Fly Fishing for Carp: Flies
Carp Flies: Carp Food
Carp flies generally fall into three boxes: nymphs, streamers/crayfish, and "other", which can range from mulberries to corn to weeds. Such specialty flies are useful to have on hand but are only preferred carp food under certain circumstances. Insects, crayfish, and other water life makes the bulk of the carp diet and most carp flies imitate these items.
Carp love insect nymphs just like many other fish. High in protein and defenseless, nymphs are a staple for the carp fly fisherman. It does depend on the body of water and the life within, but the classic imitators perform well. My favorite so far is a bead head pheasant tail. In addition, Hex and damselfly nymphs are popular.
Crayfish and Streamers
It's a rare fish that passes up a tasty crayfish, and carp are not immune. My first season fly fishing for carp nearly all of them came on a crayfish pattern. The second season I branched out and caught them mostly on streamers and nymphs, including a 4" black and red Clouser. While not thought of as traditional carp food, small fish are readily available and are often eaten. In general I fish the Charlie Carp, eyed woolly buggers, crayfish, and other bottom-scooting patterns.
Try a corn fly where a lot of folks chum, and a mulberry fly in June below mulberry trees. I've seen them sip cottonwoods down in Fall Creek in May. Chum with chickpeas and tie a chickpea fly, or perhaps use a little foam and make a peanut shell or purple mulberry fly. I'm sure ant patterns and other terrestrials have their place too, especially later in the summer. The ideas are endless and it's worth trying some just for fun!
Choose or tie flies with stout hooks if at all possible. I like nymphs on Tiemco 2457 and 3769 hooks, sizes 8-12. I carry a few size 12 but the carp in Cayuga are capable of snapping them. (To be fair to the hook, it was after a 20 minute or more fight, the sun was sinking below the horizon, I was miles from the launch and already late for dinner. I horsed the fish and paid for it when the hook broke at the bend.) I even tied a few cottonwood flies with the 2457 which I hope to try this spring. If it proves to be too heavy I'll use the 2487, exactly the same shape but forged from finer wire.
For streamers, I like the Tiemco 5262 in a sizes 8-10. Perfect for woolly buggers, crayfish, and small minnow imitations. For larger crayfish and other patterns, the Gamakatsu B10S sizes 4-6 are fantastic. Extra sharp, strong, and with a huge gap, this is a great hook for many applications. In general using these or similar hooks with a high gap-to-shank ratio will keep thrown hooks to a minimum and land you more fish.
Tie woolly buggers and leeches with a tungsten bead or cone head to help get down. Always keep your hook points needle sharp! Carp have soft, easily hookable mouths, but often take flies very gently. A sharp point will prick the fish and hold for a precious second while you notice and set the hook. A dull hook may be exhaled without you ever noticing.