Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fly Interview: John Bartlett of Carp on the Fly

For those of you who missed last years interview, check it out here. This year we decided to update, reflect, and talk about whats what in the carp industry right now with John "Montana" Bartlett, author of Carp on the Fly and creator of one of the most successful carp patterns, the Soft Hackle Hybrid.

John is a modest man, he won't admit that he is one of the industry experts when it comes to catching a carp on the fly. And when it comes to size, not many match the caliber of fish he catches...often. Both his knowledge and expertise on fly fishing for carp have recently been made obvious through his name making the "acknowledgments" section of Kirk Deeter's The Orvis Guide to Carp on the Fly and Orvis itself using him to help put them where they are today in the carp market. John is also a pro staffer for CarpPro. Without further adieu, here's what John had to say in our exclusive interview...

1.   Last year you gave us the low down on who you are and where your from, what got you into carp on the fly, and what you thought about then, current gear. Now that anyone whos anyone in the warmwater fly game know who you are, over the last year, looking back to last summer, what has changed in the carp fly fishing game?

-I think you are vastly overstating who I am, but thanks for the kind words!  As for what has changed in the has become immensely popular, seemingly overnight.  Just a couple of years ago there was a relatively small community of carpers.  Lots of guides chased em, but your average angler wasn't interested.  Obviously that has changed.  Kirk Deeter wrote a book, articles sprung up all over, Carp Pro led the charge into the fly fishing world and we saw big companies like Orvis dive in with both feet.  Orvis is sponsoring 5 tournaments this year with big time prizes..that flat out wouldn't have been the case several years ago.  The last year has been huge for growth, but the groundwork was laid a long time ago by lots of die hard carp on the fly guys.

2.   How is Carp on the Fly? Any significant progression over the last year?

-I never intended for the blog or subsequent Facebook page to be anything other than an outlet for me.  I don't get to write in my day job, so the blog was a way for me to do so.  Frankly, as the sport blew up and the blog got more and more popular I considered shutting it down.  It got pretty intimidating to keep up with all of the messages, questions, etc.  In the end though, I decided to try to keep it fun. I write when I have something to say, never feel obligated and I love all the messages and questions. I honestly have no semblance of a plan with it, but I love seeing more and more people having success with carp and hope to help when I me, I know how steep the learning curve is!  My friend David (an excellent carper) came up with a logo, and we might sell a few hats and shirts for fun, but mostly I just hope to keep writing and trying to help people catch carp.  Right now, the blog is a lot of fun...I hope to keep it that way.

3.   We saw that your using a lot of Orvis gear now, more so than last year, can you give us the lowdown on what that’s all about and why Orvis over other brands?

-Orvis gets carp.  I have gotten to know a bunch of people at Orvis working on Carpocalypse, and get to fish with Adam, the manager of the Portland store a lot.  Those guys all simply love carp.  They all fish for them, enjoy the challenge and were really excited to see and help carp grow.  They helped Stonefly Press sponsor Kirk Deeter's book, came out with a carp line that I got to test and have been running an unbelievable set of photo contests through their carp central website.  Like no other manufacturer, they are excited to see anglers branch out into carp and dive into the challenge.  As I worked with them on more and more things I got to fish and use their gear, and they have some outstanding gear.  The Helios 2 is the best fly rod I have ever cast, and the only rod I have fished this year.  They are not the only big company that loves chasing carp, but they have really spent money and helped get people excited about carp opportunities.

4.   What do you think of Kirk Deeters “Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing for Carp”?

-I wrote a review on the blog, but in a nutshell, Kirk nailed it.  I spent some time on the phone with Kirk while he was working on it, and it was obvious he knows carp.  My big worry was the book would be too much of a what to do and not enough of a how to figure it out...but he nailed it.  Carp are different from water to water, and Kirk gave a ton of info that will help any angler get started after carp.

5.   Tell us about the evolution and birth of the Soft Hackle Hybrid fly.

-They hybrid has been deadly...just deadly this year.  My friend Travis Hammond is the genius behind the idea.  For years we have fished a two fly rig of a San Juan worm and a green soft hackle.  The idea being the worm to imitate a clam foot and the soft hackle to imitate the nymphs that escape when they dig out clams.  Deadly rig.  Well, Travis came up with a fly he called the "soft clam."  It was basically a brown bodied nymph with palmered hackle...and a worm tail.  Being the lazy tier that I am I jumped on the worm tail and stuck it on my standard green soft hackle and the hybrid was born.  I have caught about 75% of my fish this year on the hybrid.  It flat out works.

6.   What’s your new ideal setup?

-Orvis Helios 2 in a 7 wt (tip flex), Cheeky Mojo 425 reel and an Orvis Hydros carp line in a 7 wt. 

7.   If you were going out for the perfect full day on the water, what gear would you bring from head to toe?

-The aforementioned rod and reel combo...then I turn into a Simms catalog.  I love their gear.  Simms guide boots, wading socks, guide pants, guide shirt...a buff (I have a couple), costa 580g glasses and my sweated out Orvis H2 hat.  I typically carry a fishpond double haul backpack (but I leave the chest pack off).  12 wt work weight sun gloves, clip my net to the backpack and I am off!  9 times out of 10 I forget both food and water.

8.   Whats your ideal situation to get tight (cruising carp, feeding carp, air temp, wind, distance, etc)?

-Number 1 is full sun...out here, you better see the fish eat and sun is key there.  That generally means it is hot, so I cover up...I like about 7-8 mph winds.  Chop on the big c is good. Dead calm is bad, 20-30 mph changes things a bunch, but is totally doable.  I want two things on my river...tailing fish, or slow cruisers.  I am willing to walk miles to find em.  Lastly...I try to get close.  The vast bulk of fish that I catch are within 25 feet of me...long casts are tough out here!

9.   Slow long strips or fast quick ones?

-No strips!  Speaking big C carp here...they are clam eaters and clams don't run away.  The goal out here is to show them a fly within 4-8 inches of their mouth without spooking them...and then let them eat it.  On lake MI, I am very much a "read the fish guy."  We hop the fly, but let the fish almost catch up and tease em like a cat.  Bottom hard rules when it comes to carp!  

10. Why carp?

-Because no other fish in freshwater can test an angler in so many different ways.  The method for carp is interesting.  You hunt and stalk an individual it, plan an approach and then must be technically proficient in order to present the fly into its window without spooking the fish. have to detect the take, hook the fish, and play a fish that frequently exceeds 10 lbs and is the strongest fish in freshwater.  Combine these items with the fact that you have a legitimate chance to catch a 20+ lb fish on the fly...why carp?  Why is anyone NOT fly fishing for carp.

11. Where can we find you (social media and website)?

-You can find me through my blog, Carp on the Fly as well as the blog's Facebook page and Instagram.

A BIG thanks goes out to John for joining us this Carp Week and for dropping some knowledge. Be sure to check out Carp on the Fly through their outlets and give him a like. His updates and photos will blow your mind.

Boom...The TLTFF Crew

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