To be honest, I am probably a better fly tier than I am a fly angler. Truth is, I spend more time at the vise than I do on the water. That is probably true for most fly anglers. All that said, fly tying is in many ways equally as fun as getting them in front of the fish. As you tie classic trout patterns such as the pheasant tail nymph, the parachute Adams, or Clouser minnow you get excited thinking about the thrill when your indicator stops suddenly, or a trout sips your dry fly off the surface, or your streamer gets whacked on the swing. For many (myself included) the excitement increases when you get back to the vise and think of ways to tweak, adjust, or otherwise improve your patterns to achieve greater success on the water. With many trout patterns though, your creativity is typically limited to the extent that the pattern fails to resemble any stage of aquatic insect life (attractors are of course an exception). To be clear, I love fly fishing for trout and I love tying trout flies. But we are talking about carp here.
With most carp flies, you do not need to fret over whether your hackle fibers are too long (or too short), you do not need perfectly evenly spaced wraps of wire on the abdomen, nor do you need bifocals in order to thread a micro bead on a size 26 midge emerger hook. Not at all. What you need is permission from yourself to say, "hey, I know my carp and I know what they like. To heck with all the rules with fly tying. I am going to create, experiment, and catch a ton of carp on the flies that I tie - even if I never get approached by Umpqua."
Here are my recommendations for getting into carp fly tying. These are based on my own experience and what worked for me.
1. Go to youtube.com and type in "how to tie carp flies" and skip the rest of this post.
2. Pick up some Gamakatsu bonefish hooks or Carp-Pro hooks. You will be thankful for the indestructible nature of these hooks as well as the wide gap to keep the carp buttoned-on. Get some size 8 and 10 but also get some of the big fella size 4 hooks too.
|Carp hooks need not be large. But they better be strong.|
3. Create hook-point up or head-stand style flies using bead chain or dumbbell eyes. I use headstand looks on crayfish patterns as well as nymph patterns. Bead chain eyes provide a touch of weight and enable a slow back-and-forth action when falling through the water column (think of dropping a piece of paper from high up). Also, the hook-point up feature will prevent snags along the bottom.
|Bead chain or heavier dumbbell eyes help keep that hook off the bottom and enhance the action of carp flies.|
5. You know those mottled India hen saddles with feathers too big for conventional trout patterns that you have had in your bench since two Christmases ago? Yeah those. Time to do some collaring soft-hackle style! Hey, you don't even need to strip off the webby stuff at the bottom of the stem.
|The natural tans, browns, and orange colors on India hen saddles are ideal colors for carp flies.|
7. Tie your patterns in natural colors such as black, brown, green, orange, and yellow. Tie up a few bright obnoxious colored patterns as well. While I err on the drab colors, carp continue to surprise me.
|Yes, that is John Barr's "Barr Flies" book.|
8. Put new twists on the old. Tie hares ears using wide gapped hooks. Add a stub or two of rubber legs. Use extra long saddle hackle for legs. Rabbit fur and marabou are never a bad idea either. The hares ear was by and far my most successful carp pattern in 2015.
|There is no limit to how you dress your hares ears.|