Wednesday, May 30, 2012

20-20 Carp


In Montana the question came up, as it inevitably does, about the possibility of joining the 20-20 club - i.e. catching a 20 inch trout on a #20 or smaller fly.  And while I was mildly interested in this, I wondered more about the 20-20 equation as it applied to carp.

You don't hear much about this - the 20-20 club and carp. Possibly because 20 inch carp are not hard to come by. In fact, on some waters, the challenge might be finding one under 20 inches. So the real question is whether or not a carp would bother moving to a #20 fly. After all, most carp flies are large meaty offerings, the smallest being #10 or maybe #12.

#20 Indigo Child vs. a typical carp fly - Carp Crack in this case.


I wondered if a 20+ inch carp would eat, or even notice, a #20 speck in dingy water. Turns out the answer to that is yes, and he will be happy to do it.

I cast a #20 Indigo Child to 3 carp today. They all ate it without hesitation. And I mean without hesitation. They immediately moved forward and sucked the fly in.



So some initial conclusions:

-Carp will eat a #20 fly. I suspect this is especially true in stillwater scenarios where midge larvae are present year-round and a readily available food source.

-The #20 fly is unlikely to spook the carp. It enters the water with little or no commotion. Even a #10 or 12 pheasant-tail or MF'er strikes the surface with a bit of a "plip". This doesn't bother most carp and may even induce the take, but I think it gives the wariest fish pause. I have seen carp veer from even a well-presented  PT or similar fly and purposefully avoid it. Not exactly spooked, but definitely aware that something is up.  A #20 might be extremely useful for fish like this.

-I wonder where the tipping point is for large carp, when they grow too large to eat insects and move to larger prey the way big brown trout do, swapping mayflies and caddis for mice and dace as they grow larger. Caloric cost and all that. In other words, will a 30+ inch carp eat a #20 fly?

More experimentation is clearly in order, so for now I'll keep a few of these tiny flies in my carp fly box. You know, just in case.







26 comments:

Mr. P. said...

Very interesting Ty. How much visibility was there in the water you were fishing? What were the fish doing when you cast to them?

John Montana said...

The trick out here would be finding strong enough hook in that size. But this is intriguing.

Gregg said...

Ty,

Nice!!! My first carp was on a #18 brassie to a pod of carp years ago I came across while trouting. It was a short shanked hook so close to a nymph 20. And that was a 8lb. fish on 6X. But I do not believe it saw the fly, they were slurping midge pupa at the surface and I suddenly had a fish. Surprisingly I caught it. Still, a carp I had in a tank ate micro brine shrimp one by one until it discovered filtering was easier. Interesting observations and musings. And, just sweet for you!

Gregg

Gregg said...

On the other hand, it never had a problem with nightcrawlers its own length, amazing. Surprisingly it never bothered the loaches that shared the tank smaller than the worms.

Gregg

lowbrow said...

Food for thought indeed. I'll try this on laid-ups and bored cruisers in July. As an aside, how come nobody ever catches real little carp on the fly, under a foot long, say? Obviously there are a gajillion of them around somewhere.

Trevor Tanner said...

Man that is really cool. Size 20! I have been curious about the big fly big fish possibility myself lately since I sat back and realized that the 4 biggest fish I have caught in CO in the past 2 years all came on my size 4 Primordial Crust which is quite large but it could be a coincidence. I would say there is such a point but John catches absolute monsters on relatively small flies (not size 20!) all the time.

Ty said...

Mr. P, the water was pretty stained. These fish were in about a foot or two of water and I could only see the upper third of their bodies. They were cruising slowly, stopping here and there to root in the mud. So they were looking to eat.

I thought about that too John. Even if a 30 inch fish will eat the small fly, will the hook hold him? I'm thinking that gets a bit sketchy with bigger fish.

That's some interesting stuff, Gregg. I was hoping a few of you guys had some experience with micro flies and carp to confirm my conclusions. The deal with the carp and the shrimp supports that too. Very interesting. Wonder why that fish wouldn't eat the leaches? Any theories on that?

lowbrow, I have often wondered the exact same thing. I never catch carp that small, but they have to be out there. Weird. Let me know if you try the small flies this year. Be interested to hear the results.

I've been thinking about fly sizes alot lately to Trevor. I prefer to use larger flies when I can get away with it, but these tiny flies have earned a spot in my carp fly box for sure.

Gregg said...

Hi Ty,

That was an interesting post for sure and got me thinking. I think I'll start carrying my regular trout nymph box with me as a matter of possible necessity. Those were loaches, actually wild fish gathered as our canals lowered in the fall (introduced by aquarium enthusiasists in the 50's and everywhere now,) not leeches. Still, smaller than the earth worms. That carp taught me much.

Gregg

Bill Trussell said...

Ty
Amazing that these big hogs would even consider a tiny little fly, but you can be surprised sometimes. Are these grass eating crap you fish for? I know that the grass eating crap can be caught on artificial bait but the grass crap in one of our local lakes I fish seldom ever eat a fly. Just wondering??

Ty said...

Hmmmm, yeah, guess I should have caught that loaches/leeches deal. I suck at spelling. Anyway, that must have been pretty cool to have a carp like that to observe. And your comment about the trout box made me laugh. Lately I have been thinking that my carp fly box is starting to look a lot like my trout fly box!

Bill, most of the time I am fishing for common carp. I do see grass carp fairly regularly on my main carp water and I usually cast to them. But the commons are what I'm really after. And yeah, I was a little surprised they ate such a small fly so readily.

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