Fixed Line Carp Fishing

Fixed Line Carp Fishing is a kick! Carp are big, powerful fish. You need a big, powerful rod - a carp rod, not a trout rod.

A few years ago there was a video below that showed a bunch of guys fishing for carp with tenkara rods. Several broken tenkara rods later, two things became obvious:

1) catching a carp on a fixed line rod is an adrenaline rush, and
2) fishing for carp with a tenkara rod is like taking a knife to a gun fight.

Tim Romano, coauthor of Field & Stream's Fly Talk blog, wrote a brief review of the video, stating "I don’t think this is a new fad bound to take off anytime soon." I agree, up to a point. I don't think this is a fad.

I do think it will take off, though, and soon, just not with tenkara rods. Face it, tenkara rods are trout rods, not carp rods. However, and this is a big however, there are carp rods. They look a lot like keiryu rods (which, by the way, have been used quite successfully for catching carp - with no broken rods to my knowledge). Even keiryu rods are trout rods, though. If you want to catch a carp, and if you don't want to risk your rod doing it, it just makes sense to use a rod actually designed for catching carp.

The first carp caught on a fixed line rod in the US that I know of was by  Randy Knapp, back in 2011. The British have been catching carp with poles for years, but most of their poles have elastic bands that absorb much of the fight. It's not the same.

It wasn't until the Tenkara Guides in Salt Lake City released their own video of carp fishing, though, that interest in it started to take off (and by the way, they coined the term "tencarpa" years ago).

Their video featured a Daiwa Kiyose 53MF but I think their rod of choice since then has been a Nissin 2-Way 450ZX stiff.

Not long after I arrived in Salt Lake City for the ONI School in June, 2015 ERiK Ostrander took me to their secret carp hole. I had never before hooked a carp, let alone landed one, but he and John Vetterli probably have more experience landing carp on fixed line rods than anyone in the US. I figured I'd have a better chance of success with him than just trying on my own.

I did manage to hook a couple carp using a Suntech Field Master 53 but I wasn't able to land either one. On one the hook pulled out pretty quickly and on the other, my lack of experience led me to make a rookie mistake. Rather than holding the rod sharply to one side, which will turn a carp, I tried to stop it by holding the rod and line directly behind it. As ERiK pointed out, that just pisses a carp off, and the result is a burst of speed and a broken tippet (or as in the case of the guys in the first video, a broken tenkara rod - no, actually three broken tenkara rods). The Field Master didn't break, but the tippet broke almost instantly.

Erik Ostrander holding a carp

As ERiK then demonstrated, and I later confirmed for myself, even though you can't stop a carp, you can turn it. The risk though, is still that a large carp will be too much for the rod. The rods that people have been using to catch carp are trout rods, and they're rated for 5X tippets.

I know ERiK pushes the envelope a bit and fishes with 4X. Even 4X, though, is probably a bit light for large fish.

Enter the Carp Rods

Angler holding a carp, with Nissin carp rod on the grass below it.Nissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod

In any event, the Flying Dragon is a lot more convenient because it collapses to about 22", the same length as tenkara rods.

Carp alonside Nissin Red Dragon Carp RodNissin Red Dragon Carp Rod

The Nissin Red Dragon is heavier than the Flying Dragon or the Kyogi. It falls between the Flying Dragon and the Kyogi with respect to flexibility, maximum tippet strength and collapsed length. I may bring it back, but its long collapsed length makes it much less convenient than the Flying Dragon. The tippet rating is 2X, which really isn't all that much stronger than 3X, so I'm not sure it is worth the extra weight and extra collapsed length.

Child fighting a carp with a Nissin Kyogi
Child holding the carp he caughtNissin Kyogi Carp Rod (also comes in Red or Yellow)

These are all two-handed rods. Carp rods do come in shorter lengths, but for carp of any size I really think you'll want a longer rod. That said, if you do want a shorter version of one of the rods listed here, do not hesitate to ask for it. I will order one for you.

Carp Rods

Nissin Flying Dragon Carp RodNissin Flying Dragon Carp Rod

Salmon, steelhead, stripers?

I get a lot of questions about rods for steelhead, salmon and schoolie stripers. There are no "striper" rods in Japan, but but I can say that a carp rod  is sufficient for schoolie stripers! Daiwa, Shimano and Suntech have rods specifically designed for salmon. They're long. Daiwa's Salmon Hunter is an 8.3m rod and their Flame Hawk P-10 85 is an 8.5m rod. Shimano's Super Game Special Salmon is an 8.3-8.9m zoom rod. They're also very expensive. The Salmon Hunter is about $700, the Flame Hawk is over $900 and the Shimano is over $1000. The Suntech Suikei Special Honryu rods are a bit over $700 or $800, depending on length

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"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
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