Pro Tips: Three Flies that Carp Will Eat

Written by: Evan Jones

A beautiful carp that fell for a Clouser’s Foxee Red Minnow.

While carp aren’t for everyone, anglers who have tried pursuing them with a fly rod know they’re a lot harder to fool than their lowly status might indicate. Keen hearing, an uncanny sense of smell, and a downright lackadaisical approach to hunting prey all combine to make them a surprisingly difficult target. While practice may be the only surefire path to success, having the right fly always helps. Here are three good choices for your next attempt at catching a “Rocky Mountain Bonefish.”

1. Backstabber

Invented by Jay Zimmerman, who quite literally wrote the book on carp flies, this one is a must-have. The arrangement of the body materials keeps it naturally weedless, and the hackle collar helps to cushion the impact of the heavy dumbbell eyes, which could otherwise spook shallow fish. Arguably the most versatile pattern on this list, it works well in any color combo and with a variety of stripping techniques.

         Hook: Gamakatsu SL-45, sizes 4-8.
         Thread: Black, 6/0.
         Eye: Brass dumbbell eyes, 4mm.
         Body: SLF dubbing.
         Wing: Black marabou.
         Collar: Hen hackle.

2. Clouser’s Foxee Red Minnow

The legendary Clouser Minnow gets so much press that Bob Clouser’s other patterns can sometimes go under-appreciated, but his Foxee Red Minnow merits another look by carp anglers. Similar in design to the Clouser Deep Minnow, but better suited to shallow water, this fly excels at imitating juvenile crayfish when tied in size 8 or smaller. Try using longer, slower strips (rather than short jerky movements) when retrieving.

         Bob Clouser’s Original Pattern
         Hook:
2X- or 3X-long nymph hook, size 6-12.
         Thread: Tan, 6/0.
         Eyes: Brass dumbbell, extra-small, or bead-chain, medium.
         Belly: Cream-colored, red-fox-tail guard hairs.
         Flash: Gold or copper Krystal Flash.
         Back: Black-tipped, red-fox-tail guard hairs.

3. Mop Fly

Jim Estes’ most popular creation is a bit controversial in certain circles, but if you’ve made it this far into a post about carp flies, it’s probably safe to assume you’re not the type to be scandalized by its inclusion here. And that’s good, because carp absolutely love this one. Try matching the color of the mop to the color of the bottom for best results, or try Tim Flagler’s “Kinder, Gentler” version linked below if you’re so inclined. 

          Hook: Scud/pupa hook (here a Dai-Riki #135), size 12.
          Thread: Dark gray, 6/0 or 140-denier.
          Body: Mottled gray segment from a mop or auto wash mitt.
          Head: Gray rabbit-fur dubbing.

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