As carp on the fly grows and more and more fly fisherman start to chase these fish in more and more places it stands to reason that many new techniques will pop up. We are going to get better at catching these fish. We are going to lean how to catch them in different conditions. We are going to find new bodies of water. All of this makes sense, but there is one thing about carp that we must remember at all times.
They don't want to work for their food.
Granted, some carp are predatory. Some carp chase gobies and crayfish (god I love Lake MI carp) and scuttle after nymphs in the shallows. Some carp can easily be caught with big flies and a solid strip set, but most carp are omnivorous. They eat what they can, always adhering to the concept "as many calories as possible with the smallest output necessary."
So I say "stop moving your fly so much." As a general rule on my home water, I don't move the fly at all. I cast, drag and drop so the fly falls into position on the dinner plate and then wait for the fish to find the fly. I have found this far more effective than stripping or moving the fly into the same position...no idea why, it just seems to work. Once the fly is there I wait...and wait, and watch. If I simply can't wait any longer I will give the fly a tiny twitch, just sort of shaking the line or giving it a 1/2 inch strip to make the fly move a touch...then I let it sit again. If that doesn't work I will resort to really short strips, but most of the time my home carp eat the fly when it is dead still on the bottom (or falling into position).
This year when Wendy Berrell and I chased predatory carp we found that keeping this concept in mind upped our catch rate significantly. Not every carp was ready or willing to hunt down and eat a two inch long bunny leech...some just wouldn't pursue. But...when we simply dapped or dropped the same fly on them and let it sit on the bottom, we often got some head turn "Columbia river" style takes. As the trip progressed I messed around with smallish nymphs and finally a hybrid. They all worked when presented without movement. On the last day, I stuck and landed 13 carp on a size 8 hybrid, all just by leaving the fly and letting the fish find and eat it.
As much as I love watching the chase, when I really want to catch some fish, I let the fly sit. Sometimes it pays to simply stop moving your fly.
It has been quite some time since I have picked up a fly rod. Life has been busy, and I simply haven't made it to a river much of late. I intend to remedy that soon with a run to the coast, or maybe some trout on the Deschutes...until then I look at pictures and dream of warm weather. I had an MRI the other day for a suspected torn rotator cuff (negative...phew) and spent the 15 minutes in that horrid tube day dreaming of lake MI and the big C...good outings store up good thoughts and you never know when they will come in handy. A few weeks and I will be back on the water...until then, a few of my favorite "non hero" pictures.