The scenario today was this - several carp milling around in the back end of this small pocket off of the main lake. Not much wider than my canoe and both banks littered with downed brush (or lumber as Miles would say). Maybe two feet in depth throughout.
I am fitted for disaster with a 5x tippet and a willingness to put a fly on these fish despite the circumstances. My first cast is off but turns out to be close enough. A loner breaks from the group and casually picks the fly up. As expected, the carp makes for the lumber on the hookset and dives hard into the branches. And I let him. Encourage him, even. I lower the rod tip and feed him line. He weaves in and out of the woody maze and then stops, I assume, to consider the situation.
At this point I slowly begin unraveling the fly line from the branches while the fish sulks, pausing here and there to reel in line gained. As I near his lie, the carp moves deeper into the jumble of limbs, taking back a few feet of line each time. We repeat this process several times. Each time he moves further into the brush, he also moves closer to the open water of the main lake. When we finally reach the end of the line of brush, he bolts for open water and loses his advantage. The end game follows fairly soon thereafter.
This year I've lost several fish trying to turn them from submerged obstacles like downed trees, etc. Trying to turn a hot carp during its initial burst is often a losing gambit, especially when a light tippet is involved. And wrestling a carp from the brush rarely works. In both instances the tippet usually gives.
So I've been rethinking this approach and have been experimenting with another tactic. Rather than attempt to turn the fish, I just let him run into obstacle. I let him run the fly line into the limbs and then begin the process of working it free after he stops and settles down. If I'm patient and constantly keep untangling the line and moving toward the fish, eventually he'll break for open water where I have the advantage. I have been astonished at how often this works.
-The fly line bears most of the pressure and abrasion from the branches, not the leader/tippet.
-Even when a fish is in the brush, there is enough spring and bounce in the twigs and branches to protect the tippet to some degree.
-Given the spongy mouth of the carp, the hook is unlikely to fall out as you give the fish line and slack as he moves through the obstacle.
-With the pressure suddenly released as you play out line, the fish often stops his run short and hunkers down. This also protects the tippet.
-As long as you're patient and continue to work the line through the brush, the carp will eventually make a break for open water.
Anyone else use this tactic? I've landed more than a few fish with it in recent weeks in some very brush-centric situations.