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Jay Zimmerman: Master Carp Angler

Carp are most active when water temperatures are 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s very uncommon to hook up blindly, so sighting the fish is key. These large warmwater feeders have voracious appetites that support their immense sizes. They are not picky eaters, which means they can often find food and they won’t take your fly out of desperation.

Thoughts on Carp Flies and Fishing

Carp flies are often imitations of leeches, crayfish, or large nymphs.

“Carp will strike when the opportunity is right in front of them,” writes Zimmerman. “They may move forward to take a fly but will rarely turn left or right. They just can’t be bothered. So it’s important to cast ahead and strip back into their line of strike.”

Jay shares many other great tips that come from years of experience, such as how to find carp and tricks for landing them. “In deep, muddy water, carp can often be located by air bubbles breaking on the surface. Cast past the bubbles, let your fly sink, and then drag it to the carp, being careful not to bump it with the line, which could spook it.”

He also shares a technique he calls Rope-a-Dope.

“Carp need oxygen to fuel their muscles,” he says. “When the water’s warm, keeping the carp’s head up high will keep it a little off balance. It’ll make it a little easier to land.”

Jay jumps right into the second chapter with detailed information on tying flies for carp. There are dozens of how-to photos, tying tips, and full-length tutorials on how to make many different patterns. There are classic carp flies like Andrew Spinato’s Carp Bug (which was modeled after the Clouser Swimming Nymph), Dave Whitlock’s Near ‘Nuff Crayfish, and other patterns exclusive to the author.

Even though carp are mostly subsurface feeders, there is always an occasion for an exception; yes, a carp will rise to a fly. Jay created a simply fantastic dry fl y he calls Banjowood Seed. After experimenting with different materials, he decided to use some dog hair (now referred to as “carp cotton”) from the family dog, Banjo. Banjo’s hair is a nice natural white, and it is stiff enough to keep from clumping with guard hairs that are thin and gangly; it’s a perfect combination for this top-water pattern. You don’t own a shedding dog? No problem! Jay says that you can purchase a small package from Charlie’s Fly Box, a fly shop in Arvada, Colorado, where he works.

Jay also includes his most successful pattern, the Backstabber. This fly has been a staple carp pattern for Umpqua Feather Merchants since 2009.

The Best Carp Flies has a very personal feel to it; the stories, photos, and style are all very reflective of Jay Zimmerman, master carp angler. It’s a keeper!


Sharon E. Wright is a regular contributor to this magazine. She is also the author of the book, Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers (Stackpole Books.) Sharon lives in Maine

Long Shot from The Fly Collective on Vimeo.

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