Carp Fly Fishing on Lakes During Summer & Autumn

Fly Fishing Articles

An English common carp caught while fly fishing!

Fishing for carp using the technique of fly fishing has been on the rise during recent years, with both trout anglers and carp anglers wanting a new challenge. My own interest in carp fly fishing goes back to my mid teens, when the writing and Go Fishing, TV programs of the late and much missed John Wilson were a huge influence. This early work centred around a baiting methodology, usually with floating baits to get carp feeding confidently, before casting an artificial to the fish. It’s great fun, very successful during late Spring, Summer and Autumn and constitutes what most anglers, at least in the UK, think of on hearing the terms “carp fly fishing”.

I quickly wanted back then to experiment with catching carp while fly fishing with no bait. My initial efforts started with large dry flies such as caddis and daddies during late summer and autumn, because I’d watched carp take the naturals. A year later I was using the “red hook” a trout fly, tied on a carp hook to target carp mudding up in shallow water, as they searched for bloodworm in the silt. It went on and on and while I experienced many blanks, I learned, I got better and everything I did based on what the fish taught me worked. What I mean by that is, the things I tried having watched carp and made an observation, invariably worked.

Some of these experiments formed the basis of an approach I wrote up in a series of magazine articles in the 1990’s. Since that time fly fishing for carp internationally as evolved significantly. Attitudes have changed, tackle, techniques, flies, have developed and every now and then, I receive a lovely note from someone who cites one of those early articles as a positive influence on them.

The previous 2 paragraphs should not be read as “this being about me”, rather as “this is what awaits you if you choose to take up the pursuit.” For carp are a fish that challenge you in every way. In getting them to eat your fly, you will need to endure a lot of rejection. In hooking them, you are going to miss a few😏! In fighting them, you will see new ways of landing fish on a fly rod, that make trout a complete snooze! 9 times out of 10, you are in for a fantastic fight on fly gear.

Hooked up to an English common carp while fly fishing a lake.
A common carp hooked in the margins, heads rapidly towards the far bank at speed!

Summer and early autumn are some of the best times to experience carp on fly for they are the exact opposite of trout, they thrive in warm water conditions. If indeed global temperatures continue along their predicted path, carp will inevitably become a more viable target than trout for fly fishers in search of good summer fishing, certainly within lake environments.

So, you like the sound of watching big, powerful, high stamina fish eating your fly, followed rapidly by fast, fish fighting action that guarantees fly fishing as an adrenaline sport! Here’s my general suggestions on gear: –

Outfit 6/7 and 7/8 weight, where you have plenty of open water and fish to around 15lbs. Bigger fish and/or lots of snags 8/9/10 weight outfits are a must. There is nothing clever in over playing fish, if in doubt go strong. A nine weight fly outfit sounds big to trout anglers, compared with a 3lb test curve carp rod, it’s a wand! While talking gear, ensure your reel has a good quality drag system, you are going to need it. Carp fly fishing defies that old saying that “a fly reel is just a line store”.

Fly wise have some dries focused on terrestrials, caddis and emerger styles. Subsurface fly styles covering fish fry (not big, immature stages), crayfish and worms(like bloodworm and larger aquatic worms). Damsels and leeches can also be useful.

Landing nets, must be big and wearable to aid mobility. Where stipulated in venue rules I carry an unhooking matt. However wherever it is practical, I use the best unhooking matt in the world and keep them in the water😉!

Polaroids and hats are a given requirement for fish location and sun/fly protection. Anyone who knows me, knows that’s the most important part of fishing kit, period.

That’s it, you are set to enjoy a wonderful journey, exploring carp fly fishing. If you’d like assistance with any part of the process, I’d suggest booking a half day lesson here (go for an afternoon session for maximum chance of carp feeding activity).

Best Fishes



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