The Carp Box

The summer of 2016 was really hot around here, and coupled with a vacation to a place along Lake Michigan, I (Caleb) was looking into what exactly it took to catch carp on a fly rod. Between Jay Zimmerman’s great book, The Best Carp Flies: How to Tie and Fish Them, and a number of good articles on that (including this one), I was intrigued. I’m still learning a lot, so I’ll admit up front that I’m not an expert at all.

In fact, I’ve only landed one carp on the fly (last October) but it seared a place in my memory by being one of the best fights I’ve had on a 5-weight rod. Since then I’ve targeted some on Spring Creek, and while I’ve turned fish to my fly, I haven’t gotten another one.

So why bother? Well, glad you asked.

  • It improves sight-fishing, and slowing down to observe what’s happening in the water.
  • It slows my pace in order to take things in better (angle of approach, casting distance, direction the fish is moving, which fish is a “player”, etc.).
  • I need to have an idea of how much a fly weighs in order to get the most effective sink rate.
    • Also, an awareness of how the fly behaves in the water and how it should be presented.

Over the summer I had a conversation with some guys in one of our local fly shops about fishing for carp and got a good tip on a place to try out. (It was pointed out that some of the ones I was targeting on Spring Creek were too difficult and would only serve as an exercise in frustration – yep… That’s true.) The gentleman went on to say, “You know, if trout behaved like carp there would be a whole lot less people fishing for them.”

I wanted to point that out to a guy I ran into while gearing up to fish high water last month, who said, “Carp? I don’t go for that [crap].” once I mentioned I had caught one tailing on the bank in high water last year.

It seemed only natural that another box would be appropriate, so I was going back and forth between a few, until I remembered an article on a DIY Bugger Beast and thought those principles could be applied to other boxes too. Enter the Flambeau 3030 box, which happens to be the same dimensions as a Cliff Day’s Worth (5 5/8″ x 3 5/8″ x 1 1/8″). Since I’ve made the DIY Bugger Beast before, I already had some spray-on adhesive, and purchased some 6mm craft foam to complete the project (color options were limited). It’s the perfect size for a pocket in a fishing shirt or cargo pocket in pants!

The box doubles as a solid warmwater fishing box as well, when all I want to do is go out with some tippet, nippers, hemostats, and a rod. It’s typically kept in my regular fishing bag as a “just in case,” since some of the smaller streamers also work well for trout around here.

Note: one pattern that’s missing from the box is a Squirmy Wormy, which I’ve heard works quite well for carp around here (and trout too).

Here’s the Carp Box:


Left side:

  • Top Row: Cohen’s Carpnado variations, John Montana’s Hybrid Carp Fly
  • Middle Row: Hex/Eastern Green Drake nymphs, Barry’s Carp Fly, one stray hook-up Clouser Swimming Nymph
  • Bottom Row: Lead-eye bugger (in my favorite color combo), articulated damselfly nymphs, articulated Green Drake nymphs, Clouser Swimming Nymphs in regular and hook-up versions

Right Side:

  • Top Row: Reynolds’ Carp Bitter, S.C.O.F. Sick Little Monkey variations
  • Middle Row: Zimmerman’s Ball Peen Craw, Erdosy’s Carp Crab, Crayfish experiment, some Crazy Charlie-style flies, Zimmerman’s Backstabber
  • Bottom Row: Hammond’s Soft Clam, McTage’s Sculpin Helmet McLuvin, Erdosy’s Carp Crab, McTage’s McLuvin, Grass Clump Fly

Looks good with a Nate Karnes Art carp flag on the front!

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