Fly Fishing Podcast
Article Index
FFOhio Team
Warm Water Rivers
Flatwater Guides
Site Map


Adventures in Fly Tying... November 2010

The Carrot Nymph
Fly and Text by Joe Cornwall
Video Production by Jim Stuard


I like orange.  Orange has always been a productive color for me whether I'm casting for panfish or bass, trout or pickerel. More than 30 years ago I created my Orange Nymph and found that the color orange worked in that petit dress as effectively as it did in a full-length streamer cloak or top-water bug coveralls. Orange and hackle is a classic combination and one need look no further than the Partridge and Orange soft hackle for a centuries-old confirmation of its effectiveness.

I first saw the Carrot Nymph in Skip Morris'  The Art of Tying the Bass Fly (ISBN 1-57188-076-3).  Morris lists the fly under the section for panfish flies and says about it; "For bluegills, I've long fished the Carrot Nymph just under the surface on a floating line, usually in the shallows, around cover.  But I've done well with it down on a sinking line.  It  is simple and deadly."  I fished this fly, along with the Crackleback Wooly Worm, as the core of my subsurface bluegill selection.

I have a fascination with carp.  I've written about it here, here, here and most recently here.  My love for things copper is not new and one day a couple years ago, while randomly surfing the Internet, I came across mention of a fly called the "Carp Carrot".  My curiosity was piqued and I followed the links, eventually drilling down to a discussion of patterns on the Carp Anglers Group forums.  The Carp Carrot was first shared by the enigmatic Mr. Pankiewicz (visit Mr P's Blog), and I immediately adopted it.  Carp in particular seem to have a sweet tooth for a fraudulent taproot. I've since had my findings confirmed through articles published on John Montana's Carp On The Fly blog, Jean-Paul Lipton's Roughfisher blog and elsewhere.  It seems a bit of sparkling, glowing orange punctuated with some buggy soft hackle appendages and enough weight to efficiently find and fish the floor is a universal combination.

The Carrot Nymph is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to a definitive pattern.  Bead heads and lead eyes are equally welcome.  A Rube Cross version of the Carrot Nymph offered orange floss as a body, but most patterns today feature spiky dubbing or, to a lesser degree, orange wool. Mr. P likes yellow pheasant rump for a hackle, while the Pacific interpretation calls for natural partridge.  These are all details.  I find it more important to carry this fly in multiple sizes, larger versions also incorporating more intense weighting for fishing higher, faster and more off-colored flows.

One variation I do find uniquely valuable is the inclusion of white.  Either white rubber legs or a tuft of white marabou or fox fur as a tail can propel this pattern from uncannily productive to mind-bogglingly dependable.  The result is not so much because the fish can see the white legs, but because the fisherman can.  That little spot of white is often enough to make it possible to follow the subsurface progress of the fly and set the hook when the fish "flashes" on the take.  I like this pattern in sizes 6 to 12, seldom smaller.


Hook:   Mustad 3906b or similar 1XL heavy wire wet fly or nymph hook
Thread: Black or orange 70 denier 6/0

Body:  Dubbed orange rabbit, squirrel or synthetic or a mix of the three

Hackle:  Hungarian partridge, yellow pheasant rump, natural game hackle, hen hackle or anything else that's soft and webby.

Windows Media Video  QuickTime Video 


New High Definition - 720p!

High Definition Windows Media File



It doesn't look like much, but this is a pattern that will take fish under a wide variety of conditions.  As with so many patterns, the secret is to fish it with confidence.  To that end this is a pattern that begs for a bit of personalizaiton.
A lot of materials will work for the body of the fly.  I use anything from an orange synthetic yarn (I Love This Yarn brand in color #200) to stock orange dubbing, fluorescent dubbing such as Senyo's Laser Dub, and complex custom blends featuring several materials.  At the end of the day the only thing that matters is a golden, natural carrot orange applied  in a tidy, tapered tubular shape.
Dubbing is a great choice because it's fast, easy and provides a bit more inherent motion and translucence.
Form a neatly tapered body that doesn't crowd the hook eye.
Select a well-marked hackle feather.  I like partridge, but pheasant, hen hackle or mallard breast dyded wood duck all work well.
As with any soft hackle, you need to leave room for the hackle barbs to move and swim.  Sparse is a good guidline, but I'll often tie a carp fly slightly fuller than I would an equivalently sized trout fly. 
One or two wraps is all it will take.  Don't make this pattern any more complicated that absolutely necessary.  If you take more than 10 minutes to tie one, you're working too hard.
The finished fly is a model of simplicity!


Tight lines and vegetating waters...

Copyright 2005 - 2010.  All rights reserved.  

No portion of this web site may be reproduced in any fashion without the express written consent of Fly Fish Ohio.

Send email to the Webmaster   This page was last updated 11/20/10