Much has been written during the past few years on floater fishing, and various tactics have been developed to continually deceive carp and a whole host of other species. Why then have I written a piece on fly rodding for carp, as it is certainly not new? Well, the answer to this cannot be found in one cold clinical fact, but relates to presentation, enjoyment, and finding answers to challenging situations.

Firstly, fly rodding for carp does not mean fly-fishing for carp. Typically the idea is to use the fly outfit to present baits such as crust, chum mixer (or any pet biscuit based product), casters etc either at close range, with a degree of control above that of what is termed standard coarse fishing gear. (I hate the discrimination between disciplines but that is another topic). Also, casts can be made with delicacy, at ranges that would require additional weight otherwise.

When fishing for carp, I personally use a 9-weight outfit as targeting double figure fish and larger, in what maybe snaggy situations makes the use of 5-6 weight outfits ridiculous. If however you are looking for some great fun, a 5-6 weight outfit at a water with fish averaging 2-6lb will see your reel playing tunes regularly throughout the day.

To complement rod selection I would suggest a large diameter reel, vastly expensive reels are not required. I tend to use a large Rimfly model for much of my carp fly rod experiments and find they perform fine. The main reason for the large diameter is to enable you to recover line faster and also to hold more backing, as in open water large fish can run and run! Coupled to this I use a subtle coloured floating line such as green, tan etc to minimise spooking fish. For leaders I have to admit that I find no advantage to using a tapered leader set-up for this style of fishing. Instead I use 5-9 feet of fluorocarbon (personal choice is Riverge and Riverge Grand Max) in breaking strains from 6-12lb dependant upon the size of fish/number of snags in the water, and also the choice of bait being used. Simply attach the hook and you are ready to go.

The use of actual baits such as mixers, casters, floating maggots, crust etc. is fine for marginal and close range work but some baits either depart rapidly from the hook or become damaged when hauling out a longer line. In such cases it is often better to substitute the real thing for artificial bait. For example a cork ball coloured brown and soaked in flavouring, or rubber maggots (featured in my article “Dummy Baits” early this year) can be cast amongst free offerings with confidence that the bait will be on the hook. When fishing at longer ranges (I am not referring here to distances associated with distance legering for carp, my casting is not that good!) such as 30-60 feet the use of a 8-9 foot leader is advisable to minimise spooking fish, whilst creeping around marginal weedbeds requires only 5 feet. A negligible amount of line will be on the water anyway, and much of the time a significant amount of this can be laid over marginal undergrowth and weedbeds to disguise the presence of the line.

So, having gone on at length about tackle, bait and approach tactics, what are the advantages of using a fly rod? Firstly, anyone fishing a water where numbers of anglers use surface fishing approaches to deceive fish can or will at some point come across a particularly desirable specimen that refuses their best efforts. Nothing may be wrong with the presentation, other than line thickness, with either the sight of the line spooking the fish, or more commonly the thickness of the line affecting the presentation. Typically, the bait drags against the drift very slightly, or when nudged by the fish does not behave in the same manner of the free offerings. The use of a fly rod allows the use of a leader lighter than that of even a 1.5lb test curve carp rod. This is due to the comparatively soft action of the blank found in fly rods, compared to carp rods, whilst having the power in the butt section to control fish (providing the rod chosen is suitable). A number of companies produce suitable rods, some examples being, Leeda, Shimano, Diawa, Masterline etc. and they do not cost a fortune in comparison with the Sage’s of this world! As an example, I have caught fish from around marginal weedbeds on 6lb fluorocarbon with the fish being 16lbs - and not just on a few occasions. Each time I have been able to control the fish due to the rod literally soaking up the carp's power. By comparison, I have lost probably less fish than in similar situations with heavier standard floater gear and had more fun in the process.

With such advantages at short to medium range, it makes you wonder why rods based on 9-10 weight fly blanks are not more widely on offer as standard carp fishing models? In my next piece I will address the concept of using artificials to target carp on the fly in the more traditional sense, covering nymph and dry fly tactics.

Late summer and early autumn is a great time to catch off the top, get out there and try it!

For more information e-mail me at