Magic Bullets--Go-To Patterns from JP Lipton

Top blogger and CarpPro pro-staffer JP Lipton is back dishing it as only he can. Now, hands up, don’t move, its’ time to unleash some rounds...

Everyone has their own “Go-To” patterns that they rely on.  From Clouser minnows to hares ear nymphs, most anglers have a favorite pattern or two that they can fish anytime, anywhere.  They are like a security blanket, where an angler can fish those patterns with the utmost confidence in any water, and usually with great success.  I have my own too.  Depending on whether I am fishing the flats, skinny water, or large river systems, I’ve got a pattern for each situation, especially when fishing blind or on new water.  Here are a few of my magic bullets…

Armored and Dangerous!

Without a doubt, the two most tied on flies onto my tippet are the Carp Crack and Armored Car Worm patterns.  Tied in just about any color imaginable, Carp Crack give me the ability to fish a polymorphous pattern than can imitate just about anything of interest to fish.  The ubiquitous features of the pattern can resemble an immature crawfish, hellgrammite, stonefly, large mayfly or caddis nymph, or even a small minnow.  As a result, the pattern can be fished in a multitude of ways, including dead drifted, sight fished, or stripped.  The rubber legs are the key to this patterns effectiveness, as the movement of the legs adds that life-like motion that may convince a fish on the edge to take the fly.  As for the Armored Car Worm, enough has already been published of the effectiveness of this simple pattern.  Any bug that burrows itself in the mud is fair game for a tailing carp.  The San Juan Worm is hands down one of the best flies to fish when sight casting to tailers.  The Armored Car is even better, as it has all the benefits of a San Juan Worm, but lasts four times as long and can thus catch your more fish during the lifetime of the fly than a traditional SJW.

Scud Attack!

Fishing small spring creeks often requires fishing more traditional patterns for carp.  The small confines of the creek often result in ultra spooky fish, as typically there is little refuge for these fish other than undercut banks or limited ground cover.  In addition, these little creeks also hold strong populations of suckers and redhorse, so small is key.  This is where I reach for a CZE nymph (scud) or Fresh Pimp nymph.  Both of these patterns are dense and compact, effectively reaching the bottom quick in pocket water, a requirement to fishing for redhorse and suckers.  In addition, these patterns represent a bigger meal than many of the midges, caddis, or small mayflies like tricos or blue winged olives that compose much of the biomass in these spring creeks.  Just the right amount of flash on these patterns might be enough to get a fish’s attention.  The clincher is to utilize a tight line nymphing technique, finishing with a rise of the fly off the bottom.  It is this rise, cause by the tensioning of the fly line and leader and the end of the drift that will pull a fly off of the bottom and imitate a rising insect.  I can’t tell you how many redhorse I’ve caught utilizing this technique.  It’s probably my most effective method of fishing for suckers.

Mutant Carp


For the flats, the Carp Crack is a great pattern, same with the Armored Car Worm.  When fishing big water, however, you need to super size your offerings, especially when fishing to carp in waters like the Columbia River or the Great Lakes, where carp stand uncontested as the apex predator.  I developed a few patterns while out fishing Lake Michigan that were borne out of necessity.  The Carp Crack definitely grabbed a carp’s attention, but were not enticing enough to seal the deal.  Who could blame them when four to six inch long gobies were everywhere?   Thus the Mustache Ride and Landing Strip were born. Think of Carp Crack on steroids that grew some facial hair and shit out a bunny for breakfast.  There’s almost as much hair on those flies as Sasquatch or Robin Williams. These flies are true mutants, containing large dumbbell eyes, ruffed grouse hackle, turkey marabou, heavily dubbed bodies, rabbit tail (on the Landing Strip), and rubber legs all to get your mojo going.  That, plus they’re tied on some serious bling: Size 2 and 1/0 stainless O’Shaughnessy hooks. The only things that are missing are the Bee Gees and a disco ball.  As effective as these patterns are, however, I’m not going to give away all of my secrets just yet.  Stay tuned for the next issue where I’ll feature these patterns in depth and their results fishing in the Great Lakes for monster carp.  Sea Donkeys!Pimped Out Gang Banger!

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