Inasmuch as I live a hurried life; always rushing in whatever I do, I am forcing myself to a slower and more measured pace in the pursuit of the elusive and unpredictable carp.
When it comes to capturing carp on the fly, there is nothing we can take for granted. That white tee shirt on a hot summer day may seem insignificant but it’s the same as waving a white flag in surrender because wearing it while fly fishing for carp is giving the carp an upper hand right out of the box. We may think the reported super-vision of carp is over-rated but my experience with these creatures confirm their incredible sense of sight.
Sometimes it’s the little things that we take for granted like being absolutely sure we cut the tag end of a just finished clinch knot. Again, this may seem trivial but it’s not and here is a good example of why. I was fishing on a Tuesday with a Clouser pattern that had produced the day before, however the carp seemed totally uninterested in the Clouser on this outing. The Clouser was replaced with a red San Juan worm ball and I was sure I’d cut the tag end of my clinch knot. As soon as the worm ball hit the water the carp started showing interested but after watching six or eight carp come to the fly, go nose down and tail up, but then suddenly spook… I knew something was wrong. Pulling the fly up for a closer look revealed the one inch tag end of tippet was still hanging and I’m convinced that is what was spooking the carp. Six or eight opportunities missed for not rechecking a small detail.
Never take for granted that just because your standing on the bank the carp can’t sense your being. Carp seem to possess an almost uncanny extra sense which I have to categorize as an awareness of the fly fisher in the area. Seriously, carp can sense movement and motion and perhaps it’s in part as a result of their keen vision but also they hear quite well. The human voice, talking to perhaps a fishing buddy across the way, can send carp into a frenzied panic alerting other carp up and down the waterway.
The after-shave we put on four hours earlier has probably dissipated from our smelling senses but can the carp still pick up the lingering effects from our hands? Chances are they can. Anything our hands come in contact with can be transferred to the body of the fly tied on. If you’re a tobacco user most certainly you’ll transfer this strong odor to your offerings. Some of the more famous fly-tyers who tie carp patterns will not use head cement because they feel the carp can pick up on that particular smell. With carp having such a strong sense of smell, it’s a good idea to wash our hands in the river or creek mud before handling the fly, tippet, or leader.
You may be an excellent caster but never take for granted you will plant that fly exactly in the vision range of the carp. As good a caster as you may be always take into consideration any wind that will come into play along with the position and tailing speed of the targeted carp. You will immensely increase the chances of capturing a carp if you fly lands in front and travels across the carp’s line of vision which is quite narrow. Throw outside the line of vision and you’ll find yourself making another cast increasing the chances of spooking the fish altogether. Economy of casting is critically important - make every cast count.
There is probably a whole laundry list of things we often take for granted when fly-fishing and lots of times we can get away with most. However, when it comes to a savvy and unpredictable fish like the carp, we should take nothing for granted.