May 7, 2014

Tenkara Guides Urban fishing trip, Part II -- May 2014 CARP!!

In my last post I journaled part I of a fishing trip I took with John Vetterli  of Tenkara Guides, LLC. In the morning I fished a small urban creek for browns, but in the afternoon I fished for carp!

Ever since I started tenkara, or fixed-line fishing, I've wanted to tackle carp. I'm not usually in pursuit of large fish in my own tenkara, but carp fishing looks really fun. They are large fish that appear to by docile and sluggish, but when hooked they can be powerful and explosive.

For clarification, the fish I took were Common carpCyprinus carpio. Common carp are the most common species of carp in the United States and are common through out the world. They are the largest members of the minnow family or Cyprinidae. They are in the same family as Gold fish and are capable of interbreeding. Because they are minnows, they are schooling fish and this helps predict their behavior.

Anyway, after lunch, John took me to a urban pond that is somewhat hard to get to. We arrived at our destination after weaving through an industrial zone and parking back behind some buildings. Even at this point I couldn't see the water, but what I could see is that we were under one of the local interstate freeways! This was definitely not a place I'd ever tried to fish before!!

What a beautiful view!

To get to the water we had to scale a UDOT fence. John had thought ahead and brought a ladder to aid in our adventure. So let me ask you, when was the last time you took a ladder fishing? This was my first time, but boy was it handy!

After climbing over the fence I could see the water. It was a large pond lying right under the interstate! In fact, some of the huge pillars which supported the lanes of the freeway went right into the middle of the water!  The water was shallow and green and had a somewhat primordial look -- perfect for carp!

Getting the ladder ready.

Up and over -- it saves your waders!!

Looking around, I could tell that we were not the only guys who thought this was a great place. Lying next to one of the pillars was the remnants of a homeless camp. Maybe they fished for carp as well?

The water.

Prior habitation.

As we approached the water we could clearly see the carp. They were schooling, tailing and mudding, which means they were on the feed. There were about 15 in our vicinity and within casting distance. I knew this was going to be fun!

The dark areas in the water are carp.

The first rod I used was my Diawa 53MF. I bought this rod specifically for this purpose. Although John has taken carp with his 43MF, I didn't want to risk mine (since I really like that rod) and I went with its beefier brother. I used a 14 foot tapered fluorocarbon line and about 30 inches of 4X tippet. I extended to rod to its full length and started casting.

Two handed cast -- downstroke.

Two handed cast -- upstroke.

The rod casts nicely, despite its 17 foot length.  I used two hands to cast using my left hand to anchor the butt and my right hand to move the rod. This worked out really well. I could place the fly within a couple feet of the carp's nose without scaring it. After just a few casts, I was into my first carp!

Setting the hook!

John netting the beast.

Bringing it in.

John had me fight the fish by keeping the rod nearly horizontal and letting the rod act as a giant shock absorber. When the fish would run, the rod would bend into a parabola absorbing the energy of the fish. This stopped the fish cold and allowed me to turn its head in the direction I wanted it to go. After just a minute or two I guided it into John's net. I had a difficult time getting it out the landing net, but when I finally did it was a nice sized fish!

I was amazed at how quickly I could get the fish landed. These long keiryu rods are fantastic! As the quote attributed to Archimedes says, "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." With one of these keiryu rods he just might have been able too!

The first carp I have taken with a fly on a fixed-line rod! Who needs a reel!!

After this first fish, I took a few more of the same size or slightly smaller. About halfway through the afternoon, John let me use his Nissin 620 ZX medium stiffness keiryu rod. Coming in at over 20 feet fully extended, this rod is a behemoth!! I cast it similarly to the Daiwa 53MF but with a more pronounced arc. Using this rod I took a few more fish, with the last one being the largest at easily over 10 pounds, probably more near 15 pounds. As stated above, both of these keiryu rods are incredible. They make a "large fish" tenkara rod look like a chopstick!

The big 620-ZX rod under load.

The largest of the afternoon. It had a nice fat belly!

Happy fishers at the end of the day.

What a great day! Browns in the morning (within sight of the capital building) and carp in the afternoon.  It couldn't have been better. Again, I give a resounding thanks to John Vetterli of Tenkara Guides, LLC for such a great urban fishing package and an excellent day.

Want to fish with John, Rob or Erik of Tenkara Guides, LLC? Contact them here.  These guys are the best!

Want one of these big fish rods? Contact Chris Stewart at Tenkara Bum. He's your full service tenkara, keiryu, seiryu, and tanago source/supplier.

Here is the video of the carp fishing.  What a blast!!


  1. Wow, they are huge! What a fun time.

  2. Excellent report and video......congratulations!!!

  3. I drive over that spot daily and have only realized that there were carp in there a few years ago.. I have often thought of going alone, but I know the area well enough that I would feel more comfortable going with someone..
    Thanks for showing what you were using for a fly, I was beginning what you were using.. I hope we can fish together sometime.

    1. I still can't figure out how they got there. They are very land locked. I'll be sure to get back to SLC so we can fish together. Looking forward to it.

    2. I am from here and know the area well enough that I could probably find it. Probably! Let me know!

    3. I think it would be best to ask John or Erik. I'm not sure where I was in relation to the city. John and I were talking as we drove there so I'm not sure of the street location. You know them both, right?

    4. I know them both and am hoping to go with one of them soon.. Like I said, I am not sure I would feel comfortable going there alone....

  4. Next time, try using your right hand more as a fulcrum and pulling the butt of the rod with the left hand to make the cast. Both hands will move, but try concentrating on pulling with the left more than pushing with the right.

    1. That sounds interesting. I'll definitely give it a try. Thanks for the advise Chris!

  5. This is very interesting and full of useful informations about carp fishing with fixed line and two hand casting, thanks for sharing your experience Tom!
    The video is just impressive.