Carp fishing has gained popularity in modern fly fishing. Once thought of as a ‘trash fish’, anglers are now realizing Carp offer great sight fishing opportunities and are often called the ‘freshwater bonefish’. They can be found feeding on sand flats on the Great Lakes or eating dry flies on western rivers that get warmer in the summer. Slow sections of water are usually where Carp are found on rivers but they can also be found in areas with high flow (as long as the water temps are right). These fish eat a variety of insects, baitfish, and even fruit and berries. If you’re fishing in an area with overhanging trees that drop fruit or nuts, try a berry dry fly - you’ll be surprised by how well it works! More commonly, though, they eat insects and streamers like sculpin and smaller baitfish.
You can target Carp with a variety of flies including a Wooly Bugger, Zonker Streamer, classic nymphs, and more. You don’t necessarily have to have a ‘Carp-specific’ fly to fool these fish. That being said, there are a few patterns that are well-known Carp Flies. The Bead Head Mop Fly is one such pattern. This fly imitates a variety of cased insects and worms. It can be fished under an indicator or with a tight line technique when Carp are visible. It can also be used to prospect for Carp (and trout) when you’re fishing a river blindly. This is a versatile pattern and is great at attracting the attention of a feeding Carp from a long way off.
Murdich’s Wiggler Fly is also a great pattern for Carp. While it’s generally used to catch Redfish, this fly imitates a struggling baitfish and is efficient for fooling Carp who are feeding struggling fish near the surface. It can also be fished on a sinking line to fool Carp who are feeding in deeper water. This fly comes in four different colors including Black, Root Beer, Tan, and White, and is available tied on a size 2 hook. This is a great pattern for fish keyed in on minnow movement and has a lifelike profile and solid dimension in the water.
If you’re targeting Carp in a river setting, they can also be found in pods feeding on dry flies. They usually group together in back eddies and slow water to take advantage of an insect hatch during warmer summer months. Typical trout flies work well in these instances. A ‘match-the-hatch’ attitude will increase your chances of success. You can find a large selection of dry flies by checking out our Flies category called Dry Flies and Spinners. Mayfly patterns often work well to fool Carp and double as a likely trout fly in river settings. You can also catch Carp on hoppers in the western US frequently.
Regardless of your angling technique for Carp, we have a few flies that will increase your chances of success on the water. If you don’t see the fly you’re looking for, check back often as our fly selection is always growing and changing.