Trade - It's a Delicate Business!
By Joe Cornwall
At the World Fly Fishing
Trade Show in Denver this year as magazine made me stop and look back so fast I
almost gave myself whiplash. A very kind young lady with a British accent was
staffing the booth, and I approached with what must have looked to her like a
serious mental problem. My mouth was hanging open, my breathing shallow. My
wife was with me and smiled patiently as though having her spouse melt down in a
convention center was a normal thing. My voice was temporarily gone so Dee
spoke for me. “He’s a carp nut” she said smiling. The booth lady smiled back.
“We get them at home, too” was her response. The stimulus that had resulted in
my mental malaise was a spread of magazines targeted at, of all things, the carp
The British accent was
explained when I saw that the magazine was a UK publication. I found out this
exhibit was an early foray into the US
market, and that the idea of a carp fishing trade was something just beginning
to emerge in North America. England,
on the other hand, has been civilized much longer.
It’s been six months now and
I still look forward to every issue of
I am constantly surprised at the level of attention Cyprinus carpio
commands in the European community. Carp fishing has the level of dedication,
the array of specialized gear, and the competitive nature I see in our own
walleye and crappie fisheries. Yet the carp, in America, remains the bastard
stepchild. Loved by many, it is respected by few. It is even loathed, seen as
a spoiler of “better” species and surreptitiously (and wastefully) terminated by
an ignorant few.
couldn’t resist the urge to explore the differences in the carping sport here
and across the pond. I immediately began work to make contact with the editor
Mr. Jerry Bridger. Over a couple of months Jerry and I carried on an email
dialog. I can say right now that I made out the better in this deal.
While Bridger is an expert carper, my own experience has been limited to chasing
them with a fly rod. When I’ve caught carp on bait it was almost always
been while I was targeting another species. On the handful of occasions
that I did ground-fish for carp, I used mostly cereal baits (Wheaties) and a
dough bait whose recipe is a once-removed memory of a concoction a relative
reportedly used four decades ago. The world of high-end carping was a
strange new place for me. And, as it turns out, the idea of sight fishing
to carp with a fly rod may have seemed a bit odd to Jerry. Here is the
interview (of a sort) that came out of our email dialog:
Here in the states carp fishing is very much an "underground" fishery that
doesn't get much respect. That’s starting to change, but we are quite a bit
behind the Brits. I understand that there are carp "clubs" that feature private
water, etc. in the U.K. Is this expensive? Is this an "upscale" fishery?
In terms of the cost for carp angling the prices can vary somewhat depending
firstly on location of the fishery, secondly the stock of fish within that venue
and thirdly the type of fishery that it may be, either a private syndicate or
club water. The private syndicates are often limited to a very select number of
anglers and are often by invitation only. They can cost in the region of £1000
note- $1,960 in 2006)
per year. Club waters are more readily available to anyone who chooses to
purchase a ticket. The prices of these tickets could be in the region of £150
per year and are often much busier.
fly fishing for carp practiced at all in the U.K. or Europe? I seldom see
mention of fly fishing for carp in the British magazines. What is the history
and current state of the sport in that regard?
I would have to say that fly fishing for carp is not widely practiced although
certainly some anglers have tried this technique with some success.
Do you see interest from American anglers in traditional British techniques like
The UK has always been seen as the home of carp angling, although the popularity
of the species has greatly increased across the globe. It is interesting that
the species is still viewed as being vermin in some countries, especially when a
single 40lb fish in the UK could be worth between £5000 and £10000
$9,800 to $19,600, yikes!)
depending on the strain of fish.
say a fish's monetary value is related to its "strain". What do you mean by
that? Are these trophy fish from documented lineages? What constitutes a
valued strain versus an ordinary strain?
Certain heritage fish, which are in excess of 50 years old, emanated from a fish
breeder by the name of Donald Leney. These Leney fish, which originally came
from Belgium, were stocked around the UK many years ago. They have been the
benchmark for what constitutes a true and historic and aristocratic English
carp. There are many other fish breeders who are stocking many venues across the
UK, some of which hold more prestige than others. It is very difficult to
pinpoint because to a large percentage of the paying public a carp is carp and
whether it is a home-grown heritage fish or a legal import from Europe there is
seen to be little difference in preference to catch these fish.
see that there is a move in the UK towards adding specific amino acids into
boilies and baits. Some of the material I read indicates that specific amino
acids and flavors are used at particular times of the year or in specific
watersheds. This is pretty heady stuff. When did this scientific exploration of
carp fishing begin and what has been its driving force?
The bait formulation is a science in it's own right. It’s incredibly
complicated and I would need a degree in inorganic chemistry to understand the
flavours, appetite stimulators, essential oils, palatants and such that have
been formulated over the years in the pursuit of finding the best carp attractor
of all-time. My perception is that this practice became more documented in the
1980's with the emergence of Carpworld in 1988, and with the writings of Rod
Hutchinson and many more who were geniuses of their time when it came to bait
What are the popular baits for carp in the UK? Most American anglers are fishing
with corn, worms, and various cereals. There is a bit of an influx of prepared
baits, but it is a very small section of the market. How do various natural and
"casual" carp baits stack up in your bit of the world?
Carp angling has seen a renaissance over the past three years with natural
baits, worms and maggots especially. This trend seems to be switching back to
the boilies (boiled food baits). Off the shelf carp baits have greatly improved
in quality over the past five years, and many of the shelf baits are excellent
the US, sight fishing to tailing carp in lake flats or shallow water areas of
rivers and creeks is the rage - with a fly rod or with a spinning rod. Is this
sight fishing a technique used in the UK?
Surface fishing with floating baits is an incredible way of catching carp during
favourable weather and is probably is closest example of "sight fishing" that
you mention. In terms of market effect and popularity the cost of the floating
baits, which are nothing more than dog biscuits, is negligible when compared
with the cost of pre-prepared boilies which sell for £12 per kilogram ($10 per
pound). It is practiced by many people, but not all year round. Many anglers
are simply too lazy to contemplate this active style of angling.
Carp are very common in
many U.S. waters. In fact it's not at all uncommon to find 30lb plus fish in
many public waters. 50lb fish are possible in larger waters in most of the
states. Is there a "travel industry" for UK carp anglers? Is the U.S. a travel
destination location for European carp anglers?
I would say that the US is becoming a more
popular destination for European anglers especially because of events such as
the World Carp Championship that was held on the St Lawrence river back in 2005
and the Specialist Tackle International Carp Challenge which is now in it's
second year. Both of these events have been widely publicised within the angling
press within the UK and have firmly put the St Lawrence river especially onto
the map. The efforts of the American Carp Society have been massive in the past
few years and these guys are a huge credit to the sport and their commitment to
increasing the knowledge and participation of specialist carp angling within the
US must be noted. Holiday companies such as American Carp Adventures, a company
ran by Jerry and Marcy Laramay based in Massena, NY offer a terrific service for
European and American anglers alike and this company particularly have heavily
advertised within the UK angling press. I acknowledge that the average UK or
European angler probably doesn't see carp angling in the US away from the St
Lawrence, but that is obviously far from the truth.
There is currently something of a "gray market" for rods, reels and gear
manufactured for the European market here in the U.S. It seems that U.K. carp
culture is catching on. What do you see as the biggest difference in U.K and
U.S. carping techniques?
Without sounding arrogant many of the tactics
used worldwide for carp angling are based on tactics conceived and honed in the
UK. Many European anglers in years gone by would refer to using "English
Methods" because these were the yardstick and most successful tactics that they
had used. To draw comparisons if people wanted bass fishing equipment, then most
anglers would look to the country where the techniques were most advanced and
where the key writers were based - this causes people to follow trends.
Personally I have not carp fished in the US, so I cannot comment as to specific
What is looming on the horizon for carp anglers? What are the new, emerging
fishing techniques and tackle and what new products are you and other U.K.
carpers who are "in the know" most anxious to see?
More of the same, possibly the biggest innovation in
recent years has been a series of Underwater DVD's produced by UK-based tackle
giants Korda Developments. This company in particular has focused on the key
aspects of rig concealment and producing off-the-shelf products which aid
presentation and concealment. In terms of what is the next revolution, or the
next boilie or next hair rig - who knows !!
like to learn more about British carp fishing? Point your browser to
Matt Hayes TV
to watch some of the finest
podcasts the FFOhio team has ever seen. Excellent picture
quality and great narration really bring the carp fishing experience to
life. This is some heady stuff!
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