Rod: I like a lightweight, yet powerful 9 foot 6 weight fly rod with a soft tip. I want a good mix of accuracy and muscle. On any given carp flat you will be expected to make multiple precise casts from pointblank range to 80 foot bombs off the top of a dam. Although I will often drop down to a 5 weight when the light is bad or the water is too off color to see into the water far enough to make long casts necessary. I will, however, never take out a rod heavier than a 6 weight. In fact, some modern 6 weights are too stiff so make practical carp rods. You are much more likely to be faced with nothing but very short shots that need to be very quick and super accurate. You just can’t do that with a heavy rod. (Favorite Rod: Sage Z-Axis)
Reel: I want a lightweight fly reel with a big arbor and smooth drag. Duh. Who doesn’t want that in a reel? (Favorite Reel: Bauer Rogue)
Fly Line: I use only one type of fly line…a weight forward floating line. But there are a ton of makes and models of fly line fitting this description hanging from pegs at your local fly shop. I have cast almost all of them. The biggest problem with most of them is over-weighting. It might read “6 weight” on the bottom corner of the cardboard box, but in many cases it is really more like a 6 ½ weight. I think too many fly line companies are making aggressively weighted fly lines because too many rookie fly fishermen are buying high end rods that are too fast for their level of casting skills. Overly weighted lines will help load a stiff rod, or dampen it, so that a bad caster can still get a fly out from under their boot. The problem is these overweighed lines land sloppy and hard on still water. Carp aren’t as dumb as trout…this will spook them! (Favorite Line: Scientific Angler’s Expert Distance) If you can’t cast stay on your nearest tailwater and leave my carp alone.
Leader: I use what amounts to a 9 ½ foot 3x leader. I start with a 9 foot 2x tapered leader, trim off a foot of the tippet and then add a foot and a half of 3x fluorocarbon tippet. I need the fluorocarbon is so much more abrasion resistant than nylon or mono. Even the tiniest nick or abrasion will spell doom with a heavy carp and a hard strip hook set.
Flies: I take a couple hundred carp every year and I use only one fly—the Backstabber carp fly from Umpqua Feather Merchants. I prefer the darker colors. Look for the new dark olive Backstabber in the 2011