carpin' with the fly

I was just wondering if anyone else is interested in fly fishing for carp. I have been fishing for them for over 2 years, but have found limited resources on the subject. I have read the book entitled "Carp on the fly". I found it a bit informative but they listed some of the tactics i found myself. i have used many different flies, from homemade polyester cotton flies to beetles. There is nothing more of a rush than catching a 27 inch carp of the surface with a hand tied fly with a 8 foot 3 weight. Carp fishing can get quite hard, and they get pickier than most trout i have seen. Has anyone else experienced my joy of carp on the fly? :WINK
i think you will enjoy it.


Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
This summer I've been spending a ridiculous amount of time annoying the carp between Lyle and Bingen on the Columbia. The Klickitat's been muddy and the Yakima's too high, so that's where I've been. I read the book and I got advice from the Blue Dun shop in Spokane. Now I know to ignore the fish sunbathing over deep water. They're snoozing, not feeding. When you find them wandering the flats in loose pods, occasionally tailing, puffing mud, that's when it's just like sight casting to bonefish.

I tried the "clouser swimming nymph" from the "Carp on the Fly" book, but my ties landed with too much ker-ploop, and spooked them. I'm using a fly recommended by the Blue Dun: a black woolly worm with grizzly hackle, #8 2x long, heavy, weighted on the front. This lands softer and still has enough sink rate to get right in front of the nose of a tailer, even though it's less imitative.

I've seen surface feeders in Locke Lake but they were wallowing on top and within mats of floating vegetation. Too hard to make a presentation. I liked the Chamberlain Lake north of the road. The water is very clear, the carp are big, but the most of the tailers have their nose down in tall vegetation. Can't see the fly. And I keep getting distracted by all the bass in Chamberlain. Much easier to catch. Chamberlain to the south has some great flats, but a long walk down a tallus field to get to the brush whack though

Then I found a little pond between Rowland and Chamberlain. It's an easy short walk off the road to a grassy point with no backcast obstacles that separates nice flats on each side. One morning in early august, I had two monstrous fish break off.

They're safe until next year now, the Klickitat's shaped up.
I used to fish for carp all the time when I lived in Colorado, lived not to far from B. Reynolds, author or that carp book (as well as a few other excellent books). Since moving back to WA, I have been pretty consumed with steelhead, salmon and cutthroat, but am still very interesed in carp fishing. Problem is, I have not found any good lakes in western Wa (Seattle area). Some people have recommended lake union and lake washington, but areas recommended on lake union drop off quickly. have caught perch, smallmouth, and largemouth from lake washington but have seen no carp. Went out to greenlake but water clarity was about 0. Does anyone care to disclose a carp spot in western washington? If not I understand, I myself have a few guarded spots (in CO). I would also like to 2nd Ryans comment about beetles, in my experience are very good on surface feeders, ants too. Another fly I have heard that were very good for grass carp are white wooly buggers (in the surface film i think). ps- wheres the spell checker on this thing? lol. thanks
i have had really great luck for carp in green lake (small atractor nymphs only). sometimes i will see them feeding on the surface fairly systematically, but have had no luck. could you post a picture of your beetle patterns? it would be a kick hook them on the surface. i do agree that the water clarity makes the fishing less interesting and would really like to find some clear water carp flats. thanks
I will have to give green lake another try. As for the beetle pattern, I don't have a digital camera but there really is'nt anything special to it, just a foam bodied beetle with tiny rubber legs, should be able to find something like it at any flyshop. It is a kick to hook them on the surface, with a smaller fly and a bigger fish, you actually have to worry about the hook straighting, it can be a lot of fun. What part of green lake a the carp most likely found?

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
What a cute little fish! :BIGSMILE The columbia carp would eat him for breakfast, or at least seriously gum him. :WINK

Seriously now, what works for you on the surface. I've had the sunbathers ignore some realistic damsel nymphs, San Juan worms, and only had them turn a look at #12 olive woolly worms. Haven't tried the blackberry imitations yet. Do you think they'd like a hopper?

Brad Niemeyer

Old School Member
If they turn and look you are almost there...:THUMBSUP
keep switching flies and cast right on their nose...Carp generally don't move toward the fly like trout. Instead its like they stumble upon their meals by accident.."Oh!, that looks good...slurp"

For some reason carp like rust colored nymphs...Black also seems to draw their interest...Olive/Green has not worked well for me...Smaller is better try # 14 if #12 is not working... my carp fly is a rusty brown nymph with a black marabou tail , black marabou wingcase, and legs...ribbed body...I hear they will take dries on occaision even hoppers if you don't spook em with the kerplunk...

I'm dying to try for the bigger bruisers in the Columbia but the long drive from Seattle gets in the way...The biggest one I've tangled with was about ten pounds....are there any particularly good spots? The columbia is pretty big water....

Good Luck,

Also, fast cruising carp are a waste of time (in my opinion).
Thanks for all the emails replying to my initial message. I recently had another excellent carpin' experience on the infamous San Juan River located in northwestern new mexico, just minutes :BIGSMILE from my home. I fished for trout for the first 3 hours or so and did okay. The one problem i have with the Juan' is that it gets unbelievibly crowded. I was the first one there in the morning and 1 hour later, crowds of fishermen cloistered around me, until the point of absurdity, so i started to meander back to my truck. Then i noticed a large fish tailing in the mud, i didnt know what species it was, so i followed it back into a slough, and lo and behold there was about fifty carp. I snuck up by them, there were a few grubbin in the mud, so i snapped off my #24 almost invisible disco midge and popped on a bitch creek nymph(montana nymph). My first cast landed in front of a nice carp, and he mouthed it immediatly so i set the hook. What a rush, after 15 minutes of heated runs, i finally grabbed him(to big to fit in my net :WINK), and snapped a picture and released him. I stopped for a moment, pondering about the 20 pound carp i just caught and decided dreadfully that i had to be at work in 40 minutes.

For all you carp disgracers out there, just try to catch and land a carp on a 8 foot 3 weight rod on 3 pound tippet, i think you will change your minds quite quickly.


Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
Besides the spots between Bingen and Lyle I mentioned above, there's always large numbers of large snoozing carp in the Celilo boat basin each afternoon. But the place were they'll be tailing is a little cove on the main river 1/2 mile upstream at the overpass and sweat lodge. Crow Butte has billions. Back waters downstream of Rufus had big ones.

Brad Niemeyer

Old School Member
My carp experience has been limited to Banks lake (Eastern Wa). My goal this year was to hook ( and land) a giant goldfish on a fly. Banks lake is a long drive(5 hours) from Seattle but its thick with big carp. First trip over there I hooked and landed three common carp (in one of the side sloughs) they ranged from 5-9 pounds which seemed huge to me but larger fish can be found in that area...The fly of choice is a rusty brown marbou nymph #12. Don't believe those who say sunning/snoozing fish can't be caught ...It can be takes an accurate cast to within 6 inches of the nose of the fish. The key is a delicate presentation of a fly that "hangs" as long as possible right in front of the carp. Feeding/tailing carp are ridiculously easy to catch...

These fish make blistering runs and don't give up easily...I have not yet found carp in western WA that can be cast to...I've heard rumours of carp in Lake Wash, Lake Sammamish, and Tapps Lake but , as is the case with Greenlake, access is limited and the carp seem to hang out in deep and/or cloudy water...Fly fishing for carp requires sight fishing in shallow water...

Good luck! If you find any carp near Seattle let me know ...Carp fishing is tons o fun!