Complete Guide to Fly Fishing For Carp

Photo of author
Last Updated:

Fly fishing for carp has become popular among fly fishermen in recent years. Carps are known to be smart and tricky creatures, which makes carp fly fishing an exciting sport for anglers. 

Like fly fishing for trout or pike, it is crucial to use the right techniques if you intend to make any catch.

This is why we have put together a complete guide to fly fishing for carp to help you kick-start your carp fly fishing career. 

fly fishing for carp
Source: Canva Pro

When is the Best Time to Go Fly Fishing for Carp? 

The time you go carp fly fishing determines how successful your fishing outing is. This is why it is important to understand the behavior of carp in different seasons.

While you can go fishing for carp all through the year with relative success, the best time for carp fishing is during the late summer months.

As a result of their cold-blooded nature, they are more active in warmer weather when the water has a higher temperature.

This makes the period between May and August the best time to go carp fishing. The behavior of carp changes with every season, so it is best to understand them to plan your fishing session. 


Spring is a period during which the water starts to get warmer. It also represents the period when carp fish begin to feed more actively after the colder months, during which they cannot do a lot of feeding.

Fly fishing for carp should be done in late spring in shallow water, as the deeper water is usually still cold. The ideal time of day to go carp fly fishing in spring is after midday. 


Summer is the most suitable season for fly fishing for carp, as the weather is warm and the temperature of the water column is high. In these conditions, you can fish easier for carp as they are agile and actively hunt for food.

During the summer months, it is best to fish in the deeper water, as carp fish move there when the shallow areas of the water become too warm. In late summer, you can commonly have big carp and grass carp under the water surface.

On bright days, carp fish take cover under aquatic vegetation. The best times of the day to target carp fish in summer are late in the evening and early in the morning. At these periods of the day, the water is not too warm, making it the perfect time to catch feeding carp.


Autumn can be a great season for carp fly fishing, as the water temperature is not too cold. Also, during this period, the carp fish are trying to get enough food in preparation for winter, when they will be less active.

The early autumn months are the best part of this season for fishing carp. The lack of adequate heat during autumn makes the deeper water a suitable area for fly fishing for carp. The warm and bright period of the day from mid-morning to early evening is the best time to catch carp fish in autumn. 


While carp are usually lethargic during winter, you are highly likely to be the only one fishing as most anglers do not come out during this period. You, however, have to be very patient and have low expectations, as carp fish are usually slow and sluggish.

Therefore, you must fish when it is warmest, generally around the early afternoon in winter. Also, use smaller baits, as they are less likely to go after big baits.

What You Need For Fly Fishing For Carp

Having the right fishing equipment is essential when you are going fly fishing for carp. With the right fly gear, you can have a successful and enjoyable fishing session.

Below is a list of fishing equipment that every angler should have when fly fishing for carp.

Fly Rods

Carp are big fish, usually weighing about 20 pounds on average. As such, you need to use a big rod. Your fly rod is used for casting your fly line and fighting big carp if the need arises, so you want to choose a long and sturdy rod.

There are two main options for you when it comes to fly rods, which are fast-action rods and slow-action rods. Both rod types have their unique benefits. Fast action rods afford you fast line speed and are also more powerful, giving you leverage when fighting with a hooked carp.

On the other hand, slow action rods are more fitting when going for a covert presentation of your fly. They are usually best for spooked carp. 

Fly Reels 

Not only are carp intelligent creatures, but they are also quite powerful. This is why you need a fly reel that can match their power. You can conveniently hold and back your fly line with a reliable reel.

The drag system is an important feature when choosing a fly fish for carp fly fishing. This is because the drag system is responsible for tiring out the fish by putting pressure on them. 

Fly Line

Fly fishing for carp is similar to fly fishing for trout because stealth is an important skill to possess. It is best to use a light taper fly line for both clear and semi-clear water. This will enable you to present the fly without unnerving the fish.

Rather than creating a big splash in the water, you want to present the fly quietly. If you are fishing in great lakes like Lake Michigan, you might require heavy sculpin patterns.

Fly lines with bright colors will spook the carp, so it is better to go for products with natural colors. Ensure to get a suitable leader to go with your fly line. 

Carp Flies

It is always crucial to imitate their food source when making flies for carp. This will help you to get the carp’s attention. While you cannot replicate the taste or smell of their regular food sources, it is important to use fly patterns that resemble them.

These fly patterns include a trouser worm and a double-up fly pattern. When fly fishing for carp in shallow waters, you can use dry flies. On the other hand, unweighted flies are reliable for fish that are just atop the water column.

For deeper water around 2ft, you might want to use bead chain flies. If you are going deeper than 2ft, use lead-eyed flies. Heavyweight or medium-weight flies are suitable for bottom-feeding and slow-cruising carp.

Common carp flies include woolly buggers and mulberry fly. Canned corn is an alternative to flies when fishing for carp. 

Understanding Carp Pattern

Carp have unique behavioral patterns, and understanding them helps every angler fish for carp better. If you see carp splashing on topwater, you are in the wrong place.

Such carp will pay no mind to your flies as it is focused on reproduction. They are, however, nice for sight fishing.

Sunning carp is a great game, as they can be enticed with an unweighted fly. Fast-moving carp are also not to be focused on, as they have most likely been spooked or tailing fish.

Slow cruising carp are looking for food, so offer them a medium-weight fly. Carp with mud around them are actively hunting, so you can make them your mission. 


Whether silver carp, black carp, or even common carp, the golden bonefish are a great prize for fly fishermen. Therefore, you must leave no stone unturned when you are going on a fishing session.

Make preparations in line with the season, and ensure to have the complete fly gear. Also, put up protective clothing and sunglasses to protect your eyes and skin.

By doing all of this, you will be sure to have an excellent time carp fishing. You can read more articles for additional information on fly fishing for carp.  

Daniel O’Neill
Fishing Expert
Meet Daniel, an avid writer and fanatic angler with a deep love for fishing. As a fly fishing guide and instructor, Daniel brings a wealth of expertise to his writing. With a degree in Business Information Technology, his analytical mindset enhances his understanding of the sport. Daniel's fishing ventures have yielded impressive results, including memorable catches like mullet, sturgeon, double-figure pike and atlantic salmon. In Ireland, he excels as a spearo, specializing in targeting pollock and bass. As a writer for Cast & Spear, Daniel combines his firsthand knowledge, educational background, and unwavering passion to create engaging content. His articles provide valuable insights, tips, and techniques, empowering readers to elevate their fishing skills and embark on thrilling angling adventures.
× How can we improve it?
× Thanks for your feedback!

We're always looking to improve our articles to help you become an even better fisherman.

While you're here, why not follow us on Facebook and YouTube? Facebook YouTube

rainbow trout size

How Big Do Rainbow Trout Get?

Are you curious how big do rainbow trout get? Rainbow trout are one of the most popular game fish in the entire world. Trout guide and fly fishing instructor Daniel O’Neill, discusses how big rainbow trout get and how to catch these larger fish.  As a child, one of my earliest fishing memories involved catching
man holding a carp

7 Popular Types of Carp: A Comprehensive Guide for Anglers

Do you want to learn more about the seven most common types of carp? Our article not only sheds light on these stunning fish but also provides valuable insights on how to identify them. Join us as we embark on a journey with professional coarse angler, Daniel O’Neill, who holds a remarkable record of landing
fly fishing vs regular fishing

Fly Fishing vs. Regular Fishing: A Comprehensive Comparison

There are many ways to catch fish, but the two that stand out the most are fly fishing and regular fishing. Not only do they use different gear, but they also have different cultures. In this article, we will go deep into the similarities and differences. The Short Answer Fly fishing and regular fishing differ
fishing with corn

Fishing with Corn: A Complete Guide to Using Corn as Bait

Are you looking for budget-friendly fish bait? Try corn! A lot of anglers swear by using corn to fish. It has a sweet scent and bright colors which can attract fish. In this article, we’re sharing how you can use corn to fish as well as its pros and cons. Our goal is to provide
tenkara fishing techniques

Tenkara Fishing Techniques (Beginner’s Guide)

Tenkara is a fishing method that originated in Japan and has gained popularity in the USA. It strips fly fishing to the basics. The technique excels at catching trout and char in small mountain streams. It employs fixed casting line lengths fastened to the rod tip, relatively long telescopic rods, and wet, dry, and nymph
types of fishing

Types of Fishing: Most Common Techniques and Methods

Saltwater and freshwater fishing are the two main types of fishing you’ll encounter. Under these two, the most common fishing techniques and methods include fly fishing, ice fishing, shore fishing, spearfishing, baitcasting, trolling, and more! Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or just starting out, there’s a type of fishing that’s perfect for you. In this