Many of you must on occasion have had my experience. You fish all day and get nothing. But come dusk the fish get active and the bite lasts well into the night. People do fly fish at night for other species (like brown trout during the hex hatch) so I wondered "why not carp?" What follows is what I have developed, largely by experimentation, for fly fishing in lakes for carp at night.
Casting at Night
It's weird. And difficult at first. You will get more "wind knots" than you ever imagined. You have to learn to cast by feel rather than by sight. After several frustrating evenings I finally started practicing during the day. I set out a target and cast to it several times as I usually do. Then I started closing my eyes on the back cast. And finally I closed my eyes for the entire cast. It eventually comes.
Don't use a light. It will only attract biting and annoying insects and you don't need one to cast. However, I usually wear a headlamp which I turn on for netting and unhooking. Better yet, fish with a buddy and let him/her hold the light and attract the mosquitoes.
Chum Where You Cast
It is essential to put out ground bait in a small area where you expect to cast. Like casting this is difficult at night. I have tried two systems and they both work. If you fish the same spot most of the time (like off the end of a dock) try a "dock block". This gradually releases bait over a period of days (even weeks) in the same area. Or use a spod. I set up the spod rod during the day by casting to the desired spot and putting the line through the clip on the spool of my spinning reel. Try to pick out a casting target that you can see both day and night, like a house with a yard light.
There is a third alternative row out in your fishing boat and dump in a bucket or two of chum at about sunset. Of course this deprives you of the challenge of spodding at night, so just forget I even mentioned it.
Carp can sense fly movement at night and can see a fly if it is silhouetted. But your best bet is to use a fly that doesn't depend much on sight. The fly I use is called a rattle crayfish. It makes a sound like a fleeing crayfish which carp can hear and zero in on from a long distance. Before I cast the fly, I dip it in a scent or spray a scent on it. I have several crayfish scents and they all seem to work. But then so does banana extract from the grocery store. Experiment. Directions for tying the fly are at the end of the article.
Assuming you have chummed a tabletop sized area, cast the fly to just beyond the chum area (you did check this out during the day, didn't you?). Let it sink to the bottom, then give it one short jerk and take up the slack. You will often get a take on that first jerk. If not, pause and repeat the sequence of short jerk/take up slack until you get a take or the fly is all the way into shore. At night carp will swim remarkably close to shore so don't overlook the chance of capturing their attention there. Reapply scent, if necessary, and cast again. Every 15 minutes or so switch to the spod rod and cast out another load of groundbait.
hook: size 6 streamer hook
thread: black 8/0
tail: dark olive or black marabou
body: dark olive or black medium ice chenille
rattle: small glass rattle
eyes: lead dumbbells
Start the thread near the eye and cover the shank with thread.
Tie on the lead dumbbells near the eye with figure-of-eight wraps and secure
with Zap-a-Gap. Tie on the rattle on top of the shank just back of the
dumbbells. Cover the entire rattle with thread and secure with Zap-a-Gap.
Move the thread to the hook bend and tie on the marabou tail. Tie in the
chenille and move the thread to the eye. Wind the chenille forward and
tie off at the eye ahead of the dumbbells. Tie off the thread and secure
with head cement.
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