Sunday, 19 October 2014

Been a while

Well I've not posted on here for a while.   The super hot summer days really curbed my urge to get on the river, and the days I did get out didn't last too long as it was just too hot 37 degrees Celsius in the shade is no fun at all.

Salty Fun

While I wasn't carping I did do a few salt water trips where the breeze helps a bit.  I even managed a Dolphin from the shore in Southern Chiba

Apologies for the moobs, but it was definitely tops off weather that day.

 I caught it on a silicon fat boy like this.

As the weather cooled a bit I did a bit of bass  fishing in the lakes but not on fly so it won't feature here.

Looking Forward

Now that the weather has cooled off and the typhoon season is coming to a close, I'll be spending more time out on the river chasing carp. I still expect a few really good days before the end of the year to round out what has been my most successful season of fly carping yet.  

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Freestone sculpins craws and ornmentals

Last week I was lucky enough to have a free slot in my schedule and managed to get out to a new river with recent carp convert Hideto.  Actually Hide had fished the river once before and suggested we go.  after a quick train ride we were at the venue in the outskirts of Tokyo.  The Yanase river is a beautifully clear freestone river running between Tokyo and Saitama prefectures.  

Hide was keen to show me the whole of the stretch we were going to fish before fishing it, which to be honest I found difficult.  There were just so many positive switched on fish feeding in the gin clear water I hated passing them by.  I think Hide's trout stream background maybe still has a grip as he seems to favour and upstream approach - so he didn't mind walking down past the fish to come back up at them.  I think with time I can turn him. I almost never want to present up stream to a carp as it just makes it far too easy to line them.  I mush prefer to cast down and across to almost square to a fish and let my fly drift into the feeding zone ahead of my line.  Make the fly the only thing the fish sees, that way you might get a second shot.

Anyway we started fishing in some water that was pretty deep and fast making it hard to get a good presentation, so I moved a bit further down stream and managed to get a take in the margins on a hybrid, but the fish came unstuck after a couple of runs.  after that we started moving up river.  There are some sections with big rocks and slabs have been set into the river bed creating a lot of pockets in the rough water, there were a load of good fish showing whipping in and out of the fast water and grabbing stuff that was being swept along.  The only thing  I had that would give me a chance of getting deep enough was a small Fish Skull sculpin, It almost did the job for a couple of fish that chased it but weren't willing to commit.


After this section things started to get good the river slowed  and widened a bit and it was easy enough to walk up and around fish so I could make a good presentation that I was confident in. While I was moving upstream Hide managed the first fish of the day on a tan backstabber, it was also the biggest of the day, of probably around 12-15lb (sorry no picture, I'll add it when I get one off him).  I then dropped my sculpin in front of a fish that was feeding behind a tree, the fish was clearly a player because  it moved to the fly only to reject it at the last second.  A quick change to a brown mottlebou backstabber saw me get off the mark after the same fish that knocked back the sculpin inhaled my second offering
Hide took this from the tree the fish was hiding under


as soon As I released my first fish I spotted a lovely ornamental Koi in a small eddy on the far bank.  It was a pretty easy cast to drop the fly in her face and she liked it.  This is the best fish of the year for me so far, far from the biggest but I just love the clourful ones.


After that we continued picking up a few fish before Hide left to get lunch and I stayed on the water, I took another 5 averaging about 8-9lbs while he was away, but only one was particularly memorable.
 there was a fish feeding horizontally against a concrete wall on the far bank quite near the surface, The carp was actually swimming on its side with it's back pointing at me. By this time I had changed flies to a Whitlock's near'nuff crayfish to cope with the deeper water-so not ideal for a fish that was sitting shallow. luckily the top of the wall was covered with enough water that I could drop the fly on it without worrying about it bouncing, a quick almost square lob with an upstream mend to slow the swing and let the crayfish imitation appear to creep off the ledge and dive for the bottom.  The carp loved it and charged the fly hitting so hard it hooked itself .  You can see the wall on my side  in the picture.


Near'nuff crayfish

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sharing the love

Last Monday I took my buddy Hideto from the Tokyo flyfishing blog  out to show him the ropes. He'd been carping before but like most he'd struggled and never really got in to it.  Eventually I convinced him that carp were worth chasing and he asked to come along.
I took him to a small river near my apartment, it doesn't have many big fish but it has a lot of fish so I was confident he'd get a fish or two.  After a quick coffee and explanation about the river, flies and presentation we headed up to the water.
It took Hide a little while to get to grips with the presentation and reading the fish, although identifying takers is going to take more than one session to pin down. Any way we eventually got him a small fish about 20 inches or so after which his confidence started to grow along side a healthy respect for the carp as a fly fishing target.

As the day wore on he picked up a few fish finishing with 5 or 6 nice little commons.  I didn't fish that hard as I wanted him to get  the bug but still managed 6 carp and a barbel.

We also managed a  Double hookup which was nice

These Japanese barbel (Nigoi) are odd, sometimes they go like stink, but sometimes they barely fight at all.  They are pretty fun to sight fish for because they will chase almost anything you pull away from them.

Hideto's filming.

While we were fishing Hide filmed some of the action that he later put together as a short film.  Here's the first instalment of his carp on the fly films.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Thoughts on leader construction

There's a lot written all over the internet about leaders and connections and some of it is good, some of it on the other hand is rubbish.  Anyway I thought I'd add add my tuppen'worth.  Today I changed over to my summer line on the carp set up. I use a WF 8 Rio Smallmouth Bass, in the summer here as it's just too hot for a cold water formula line.  Since I was changing back, I replaced the connections.

I start by attaching  a length of 30lb fluorocarbon to make the butt section.  I use a modified Albright Knot for this.  Basically I tie an Albright, but leave the waste end of the fluorocarbon the same length as the end you would normally leave. 
If you don't know the Albright you can find out how to tie it  here, just remember don't trim the waste like the standard knot.

The next thing I do is furl the two ends together to make a single butt piece.  To avoid putting a ton of twist in the fly line I tighten the drag on the reel and pick up the whole rig. then make sure you hold the fluorocarbon between the thumb and forefinger of one hand so that they can be pulled round each other, then spin the reel with your free hand till the fluorocarbon twists together.

Then make a loop in the furled section. A simple double overhand loop will hold fine.

To finish off I coat the fly line to butt connection with silicone.  I use silicone as it's flexible, tough and bouyant.  Other adhesives I have found can harden which I don't like.  I like this heavy butt section to be about a foot long including the loop.

This makes for a bomb proof butt section which you can attach to your leader with loop to loop connection.  I usually only change these once a year unless they get damaged somehow, but they are pretty robust.

As far as the actual leader is concerned I make a step tapered leader from 3ft of 30lb fluoro, 3ft of 20lb fluoro and 5 ft of 15lb.  I rarely go lighter than 15lb at the tip, but if I need to I just shorten the 15lb section and add a 10lb tip all connected with 2 or 3 turn water knots.  I never fish lighter than 10lb for carp, partly because I fish quite snaggy waters, but also because I never found them to be leader shy.  In fact I am much more likely to make my leader longer than lighter as I have found that to make a difference on several occasions.

This is just the way I do thing, and some people might not agree with it.  Of course you can just go with 7ft of 8b fluoro straight to a braided loop.  I just think the extra  effort to make a good leader that will turn over by itself  is worth it for the one day it makes a differenc.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Brownfish Bitters

The other week I was looking through the 2014 flyswap on FlyCarpin'.  One fly that stuck out to me was the  bitter bugger,  the wooly bugger/bonefish bitters mash up. The reason it jumps out to me is that I also went with the bonefish bitters for carp but found it lacking movement.  Even though I've caught plenty of bonesfish on it I think I only managed a couple of carp .  Anyway  I'm not a huge fan of the wooly bugger for carp, but I decided to revisit the bonefish bitters as I do like the epoxy head as it really makes for a nice stable platform for the fly to stand on.

I added a bit of bulk and sparkle with a cactus chenille body, kept the rubber legs, added a  soft hackle and dropped the deer hair wing in favour of arctic fox tied in "temple dog" style to keep it from collapsing.

The Brownfish Bitters

Fishing by the Paddy Fields

Today I went to check out a river near by that  I hadn't fished properly, it's part of the same system as the one I usually fish-they both feed the same lake.  Every time I've been it's been full of old guys bait fishing for crucian carp and it's generally pretty dirty because of the wind and the rice fields.  I actually only realised how big an impact the rice paddies make today.  So I had checked it out on Google maps and I was sure it would become more fly friendly if I followed it away from the lake and the easily accessible spots.  I was right... to an extent
Clear water, overgrown banks for cover, but very tight ad a lot of high banks.  It had quite a good head of fish including some of the biggest Asiatic barbel I've seen,  didn't catch any today though.

The river

So the nice tall grass is great for hiding, but the dead rushes and bamboo that was lying around not so helpful.  I spooked about a million fish before I actually got a shot at a nice little fish. which was perfect, except the fish flat out refused my San Jaun worm.  A quick change to the egg that was in my hat and I was off the mark.  A small fish, but it's always nice to get your first on any water.

The river stays nice and small and clear for a couple of miles, before it opens up a bit.  after the water got bigger I switched to a brown tailed hybrid and caught another couple.  The third fish took me to 150 for the year, so it's shaping up to be a good season.

Then disaster struck, and I learnt a lesson about rice paddies and fishing.

AS I was working my way back downstream I noticed that the farmers were planting and flooding the paddy fields, it seems that they flood and drain them before re-flooding after planting.  However I'm no expert and it might not be how it actually happens.  The thing is though, all these fields were connected to an irrigation system that drains into the river bringing tonnes of silt with it. As soon as I got level with the area they working on the water was like chocolate milk, forget sight fishing.
Obviously this has been going on for generations, but I still wonder how it impacts the system.  I'm sure the carp like it as they are getting mineral and invertebrate rich substrate to root around in. But I wonder about the impact it's having on the rest of the inhabitants? Problems caused by agricultural run off are well known in the west, I'm sure the natural balance must be affected here too.

Some fish in one of the irrigation canals 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Crunchy SBS

So, here's a fly I've done pretty well  on so far this year.  Since I came up with it last August I've taken a ton of fish from rivers on it.  I give you, The Crunchy.  Not specifically imitative but could be suggestive of  Dragon fly nymphs or just something edible for a hungry carp.


Owner Carp C6 boilie size 4
8/0 colour to suit
Silli legs
Hot orange sow scud dubbing
Hares ear wiggle dub
Rabbit zonker in a contrasting colour
Chopped up EP fibres mixed with some flash (I keep the trimmings from when I tie merkins and shrimp for the flats-any really coarse synthetic dubb will do)
Bead chain eyes to suit

 Put the hook in the vice and tie on a string of four bead chain eyes about an eye width behind the hook eye

 Run the thread down round the bend and tie in 4 silli legs, put a few turns of thread behind them to make them flare. 


Dubb the hot spot- I like orange but magenta and Yellow also work pretty well.  I like the hot spt to be about 1/3 of the body length.

Make a dubbing loop with the wiggle dub and wind it forward to just behind the bead chain.

Tie in a bunch of hair from a zonker strip, the hair should be pointin out over the eye- don't trim the butts. It's best if you make this a different colour from the body

Fold the rabbit back and put plenty of wraps IN FRONT of the hair to push it back against the butts.  DON'T TIE down on top or you'll make the wing collapse.  If it collapses there's no point in the folding, which is there to make the wing stand up.

Put the Dubbing for the head in another dubbing loop and dub forward, be sure to go around the eyes, and cover the inner two beads. Whip finish and cement the thread wraps, then give the body a good rough up with a dubbing brush or some velcro.

The Crunchy

Tight lines

Gettin' Jiggy

If you fish super snaggy waters like me, you probably lose a load of flies like me.  Well I'm always torn between the use of dumbells and guaranteed hook up posture and the streamlined profile of a bead with the risk of hook points.
The other day I tied a few patterns on jigs to give them a try.  Admittedly one does have dumbell eyes but these are initial patterns to be tested and refined, But I'm pretty sure they'll get eaten.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Pop up for fly

So last winter I was thinking about pop ups, the bright bouyant baits the bait guys use and I was thinking about how they behave in water and why they are so effective.  It got me thinking about  applying the principal to flies.  After a few rounds of tweaking, I got down to a final design.
carp lollipop

Basically it's  a crayfishy thing with a floating articulated section.  The back section is tied on a shank an then attached to the  hook with supple braid. What you are left with is a very light free moving tail and a heavy hook.  This is important, it makes the fly behave in a way that carp struggle with in the mouth.  i.e. it creates an anti eject function.  The tail section blows forward but the hook drops and twists, often sticking the bottom lip,  making the fish startle and hook itself-the takes are generally pretty hard on this bug, you'll feel them in your hand. I can't claim to have invented the system- I just applied the mechanics of a successful rig to a fly, but I am more than happy with the results.  The carp lollipop. Suck it and see.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

First Post's a Personal Best

Well the time ahas finally come, I've started this blog on fly fishing for carp in Japan.  Actually I've been thinking about it for a while, but just never really got round to it-plus there's already a few blogs on carp fly fishing out there, all be it not in the land of the rising sun...
Anyway yesterday was a real red letter day.  Lou and I drove up to Lake Motosuko next to Mt. Fuji on Friday night.  the plan was to arrive around midnight, sleep till sunup and fish lake Shojiko.  Unfortunately traffic was shocking and we didn't arrive till around 4, which meant we could only manage about an hour of dozing before starting.  Needles to say we were a bit delayed in waking, and when we did get up we were greeted by the sight of what looked like a billion anglers sitting it out on the lake. Not good.

Luckily in the Fuji area there are five fishable lakes and we reasoned that the lakes without black bass would probably be less busy, so we drove the fifteen minutes round to Motosuko and found it almost deserted, just a few guys out spinning for trout.  When we bought our permits the guys at the office and the three other customers openly laughed at us when we explained that we were targeting carp with fly tackle. After a slow start when it seemed we made the wrong choice, we found a weedy bay with loads of fish moving in and out of it, either getting ready to spawn, spawning or post spawn. so we waited and started targeting the fish that were moving in and out of the area. I eventually hooked a fish on a McTage's Foam Trouser Worm- a first for me on this fly- and Lou quickly followed suit on a red woolly bugger. 

After that things started looking better, with a steady stream of fish cming past us we just had to wait for  new fish to appear.  What surprised me was that the fish all wanted a moving fly, I've never experienced that before.  In fact on the waters I usually fish, anything more than a two inch twitch is more likely to spook fish than anything else.
So we carried on picking up fish on red flies and I picked up a PB of 19lb 4oz on the Trouser Worm, with Lou getting into another couple of smaller fish. 

After a slow start things were starting to look good.  After a quick lunch it was back to the fishing, but red seemed to have lost its charm.. I suppose it was down to the water getting a bit dirtier from all the commotion.  As things had slowed down Lou decided to take the car to the store for something- I don't know what but whatever.  I switched to a purple and black Zimmerman's Backstabber.  I've been thinking about purple for a while, but this was the first time I had used a purple fly for carp.  The first fish I cast to ran it down and ate it like a bonefish chasing a Gotcha.  After a quick release, I had another shot at a better fish, cast was good fly sunk to the fish's level about 6 inches in front of it. Strip strip on- another good fish.  After an epic battle inlcuding some of the longest runs I've ever seen from a carp, I slid her into the net.
ANOTHER PB!  this time 22 and a half. As I was on my own the photos weren't so good..

Lou came back just after I released the fish and just in time for me to catch another.  at the start of the fight I was telling him about the fish he missed, how it was pig and the fish didn't look as big_ it really didn't, but I hadn't accounted for the distance/depth I had seen her from.  Anyway, after a protracted contest Lou slid the net under her, looked at her and said, "I don't think you realise how big this is. She's F*****G HUGE!" then I saw it, My second PB in two casts 33lb exactly!!!

I couldn't believe it, more than double what my PB had been that morning. I just can't get enough of these fish, for me they are the best, most challenging fish in fresh water.  We stayed a couple of hours longer and picked up a few more fish before heading back to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo.