Common Carp / Koi

2011/10/1 Common Carp / Koi

Common Carp / Koi [jp] / 
Cyprinus carpio (Linnaeus, 1758)


Carp is probably the most commonly known fish to Japanese and recently rising its popularity in Europe. On a contrary to common recognition, one that’s fed in parks with anything thrown at them does not show the true nature of this fish. One in wild carefully select what he feeds on and he is a good challenge on a fly rod.

Great thing about carp is that they are abundant in water near city and they come in great sizes from 50cm to a meter which give good fight for 8 to 10wt fly rod. In area where carp could run away into main stream of river, you would expect it to fight to the backing line.

Sight Fishing

As carp are selective feeder from bottom to top water, best way to play with them is sight fishing. Carp has relatively good memory and distinct behavior to cruise its territory for edible objects. When they find something not familiar, they sample it, and if it happens to be not edible, they will not try again.

Key to successful sight fishing is to locate the group of carps actively feeding what is abundant in that area in that season. Nymph of aquatic insects, scuds, crayfish, and small minnow.

In below case in clear lake, group of carps were cruising near school of dace in shallow waiting for something. I was sight fishing with clear floating line for pair of largemouth bass in the same area with surf candy. Each of bass took one bite which I missed hooking, then giant carp torpedoed his way to claim his catch.   He was obviously examining fly being sampled by bass. When he figured that what was spilled out by bass can be a remain or weakened minnow, he took advantage of his large body against bass much like lion chasing off hyenas in plain.

This is one example of how they feed on minnow by selectively choosing easy one. In other occasion, crayfish or dragonfly nymph imitation yields good result, again with giving enough time for carp to examine, then let it come to take the fly.

Another interesting way to chase carp is from boat.


As proven, carp examines an object with careful observation associated with memory. Spot cruising fish coming towards shallow who is about  to feed on its dinner table.  Make sure you look around so you don’t spook the fish by alarming other nearby fish. Cast with enough lead and well over the fish. Sink your fly to the bottom then start presentation for the pattern you use. Do not over action and keep staying natural. Carps don’t hurry for the take, so let him have enough time.
I usually use short twitch and pause, which creates right amount of puff of silt in the bottom. Same technique you can use for trout or bonefish to give them clue there is something alive in the bottom.


I’d choose between 6 and 8wt depends on the size of fish and the size of water I’m fishing in. If  you are sure to meet above 70cm fish, take 10wt. Clear floating line can give you range for both dry fly and streamer. Bring sink tip for deeper water.  Use fluorocarbon leader for its durability, non-stretching sensitivity, and sink rate.


Don’t underestimate the survival instinct of big fish. Carps don’t quit easily and demand full attention til the last moment. Bring net large enough for landing and don’t rely on fish grip for it slips on capr’s rubber like mouth.

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