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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Indicator Fishing for Carp: Part II (and Gregg Martin's Story)

In Part one of this sequence on indicator fishing for Carp I talked about my background with indicator fishing and about an email exchange between Gregg Martin and I. In those emails we talked about alternative materials for Blood Worm imitations and about fishing with an indicator.

Gregg has three grown sons. In 1985 he sustained an injury as a smoke jumper in Alaska. He is a T7/T8 paraplegic. It took him 9 days to regain consciousness after his accident. The injury limits his mobility and causes him continued pain. Gregg still gets out and fishes though. He says that the endorphins from fishing help ease the pain. He is exhausted after a day of fishing and needs to rest for days before he can get out again. Gregg, I don't think you realize how much your emails and your story inspired me. A quote from Gregg that I like is, "I must be flexible when conditions are poor." When he wrote this he was primarily talking about the fishing conditions. His lengthy and informative emails show that he is "flexible when conditions are poor", when it comes to his own personal condition too. Again, I'm inspired Gregg.

Gregg fishes mostly stillwater near his home in Boise, Idaho. His home waters are not very clear. He can see Carp near the surface sometimes but usually sees only bubble trails. He uses an array of flies to trick Carp; his favorite is a peach colored yarn, egg fly. He likes fishing it under a strike indicator. It appears to be his favorite method for catching Carp.

Gregg fishes in water that he describes as, "inches to say 3 to 5 feet deep". He says that even when the water isn't cloudy the glare or the algae make spotting Carp difficult. Even in shallow water he uses an indicator effectively. He sees Carp bubble trails in water up to 9 feet deep but has trouble placing the fly near the target when the water is that deep. Amazingly he fishes the fly just inches under the indicator at times.

When I am indicator fishing for Trout I start the fly a foot off the bottom and work up the water column as needed. Finding the correct depth can be very challenging at times. I don't usually have to go much farther up though. Gregg usually fishes his egg pattern on the bottom.

The guys I know who indicator fish for Trout use some slang. "Burying the indicator" means the fish pulled it under water and out of sight immediately. "Soaking it" means casting out and letting the fly just sit. Moving it is self-explanatory; it means moving the fly and not soaking it. It is important to point out though that the fly is moving VERY slowly. A slow, intermittent hand twist or slow, short strips are typically plenty fast for fishing a Chironomid or Blood Worm.

He says the takes from Carp are, "Not subtle; they are authoritative. Sometimes it (the indicator) slides slowly away". He points out that very often he doesn't need to set the hook as the Carp hook themselves.

In answer to questions about targeting fish and the bubble trails Gregg says, "...they are so obvious. Sometimes the bubbles are hypodermic like and sometimes they are like a toilet flushing under water, it's so obvious and so different from lake bubbles and fry feeding on top."

In terms of targeting strategy Gregg tries to cast to the bubble trail if it appears to be stationary and cast ahead of it if he sees the trail moving. He feels that the indicator is also a good tool for targeting fish that are, "occasionally visible".

Gregg had usually been tying his egg pattern in sizes 6 and 10. He is now tying them in size 2. He relates, "the Allen 105 #2 makes an egg 3/4 of an inch, I can't wait to use them!"

Gregg sent me a picture of his egg pattern:

Here are some of Gregg's other patterns; the all look like they would catch Carp for sure.

Gregg, you wrote to me in one of your emails, "You were so kind to answer things that may seem irrelevant." I find myself feeling somewhat like I did 25 years ago on Chopaka Lake. The difference is that I have a lot of indicator fishing experience now. What is the same is that the indicators are upstairs in a drawer and it has hardly even occurred to me to try them for Carp. Twenty-five years ago the other angler thanked me for giving him flies. I was the one who truly owed him the thank you for showing me how to use a Corkie as a strike indicator.

Gregg, I think you opened another door for me in the "house of indicator fishing". Thank you. Come spring I will commit to trying it places where I see bubble trails but can't see the fish.

Your story and your courage in the face of adversity is an inspiration Gregg. Please accept my heart felt thank you.


  1. I am so glad you posted this Mr. P. You did a better job than I would have. Besides being a truly impressive man Gregg is also an impressive carper with a unique take on things that we can all learn from.

  2. Thanks McTage; I appreciate the props. And yes, Gregg is an impressive man from whom we can all learn.

  3. Just finished knocking the duck and coot poop out of my tires from a trip 11/29. My access is a modified std. chair with mtn. bike tires and an A frame with a large ball that lifts the tiny casters off the ground. It also includes a net that extends to 115", and pruners that create back cast room and a landing to fish from, as well as an old weed whacker that is more carp relevant, taking down bullrushes, cattails, roses and such. It takes some strength to move about, proudly I'm still the 145lb. I was when injured. Mr.P was correct, I deal with chronic pain post injury, but some severe atletic injuries as well. I must carefully choose chair travel when fishing. Thus the adaptation and use of an indicator. Often I have spots, or, one "spot" to fish from all day, as is my habit. Conditions aren't always optimal when a spot is what you have. Using indicators helps alleviate poor sighting and elements that prevent classic sight fishing. You CAN CONSISTENTLY catch unseen carp! Often the water is too stained, muddy, or glare creates poor visibilty. I have found that a fly suspended under an indicator over SIGNS of working fish works, well. The best sign?, bubbles. How I fished for years and neglected their presense is beyond me, they are so obvious! When the rooting fish disturbs the bottom masses of bubbles are released from the bottom depending upon the substate and season. Often they are there for minutes, it's incredible, other times the fish is moving from very slow to exteremely fast, and then once gone they appear again showing their direction of travel and speed, allowing you to lead them. This is how I do it. Let me leave, like the fish, and return. A try this morning had me far over the allowed character limit and I lost what I wrote. Indulge me please.

  4. I continue. That recent trip was to a spring influenced pond 35 miles distant, the frosts has reduced most of the bottom vegetation and algea, the bubbles I saw were tiny most places, but they were there. In the summer they are telling, often good numbers of fish and once many hundreds, I'm excited as I write! I use an egg tie suspended at the bottom, or on occasion when fish are visable but pass from being visible to not, have it their eye level. An egg is my go-to fly now, I don't term them glo-bugs as I tie mine differently, spinning and packing glo-bug yarns or yarns of wool and synthetic blends from a craft store. As well, light colored egg ties mixed with hints of another color (marbled I call the result)far out preform neon trout colors. A #6 egg or #10 have been my favorite sizes, as Mr.P noted a #6 is a new egg size that must be promising. I used to use a fly I call "Gregg's Carp Bugger," the black bead head fly with rabbit tail and sili-legs seen above as my go-to, but carp will hold an egg tie and the most recent fish caught had it so deep I couldn't locate it, a first. Now then, when in shallow usually muddy water I see fast moving trails of bubbles with a corresponding mud trail, a carp bugger in yellow or golden stone new age chennile striped back in 2" spurts draws violent strikes from those fish I believe after fry or crawfish. When first arriving upon a spot and seeing bubbles I quickly note the behavoir, stationary fish, slow, or fast movers. The toughest part is determining the depth. Once done, expect success, this is effective! When after fish exposed to bread fed to ducks and geese, cast to the edge of the waterfowl with a SUNKEN bread fly, mine of spun and packed weighted cream wool, only inches under the indicator to say 14", even in feet of water. Carp feel much more safe taking sunk bread. The indicator I use is a bait float,manufactured by Cormel Fishing Tackle of Buda, Texas. It is called "The Little Brother Float," and is used by me in white/red, white/yellow, and white/green. I'll post their website soon, I've not their information this instant.
    Mr.P wrote a wonderful article about my techniques, I hope this adds something to it.
    I also recognize that others use egg ties and also indicators, nothing exists in a vacumn, but this is also my rationale for doing so.
    Enjoy, Gregg

  5. The float I use is from: www.floatunlimited.com/little-brother-floats-slotted.html. I use LBO75SRW .075 slim red/white and LB075SYW yellow/white. I use for dark a larger cigar shaped 1.50 slotted pegged (2 pegs) in pink and green. And above, I meant a #2 egg tie.


  6. Wow! Thanks so much for the interesting and thorough comments Gregg. It's raining here now; it's cold and getting colder. Just reading all of your contribution makes me wish it was July and I could go try it all in the morning.

    Are you using two or three colors of yarn in your peach eggs Gregg?

    Again, thanks so much for all the information in your emails and in your comments.


  7. Hello Mr. P.,

    I have a base color and mix contasting or complimentary colors to my egg ties. Peach glo-bug yarn "marbled" as I call it, with a salmon, yellow and orangish yarn was a try to replicate a pale yellow craft store yarn that made wonderful eggs and is no longer available. I think color is important, that bit of brightness especially laying on a filimentous algea layer is something the fish will check out. So saying, too bright material I've not had much success with. There are those elsewhere I read of who swear by chartruese, perhaps I've not used that enough. One thing I like about eggs on bubbles is a light entry yet a sink rate fast enough to penentrate to the depth needed. Some new egg ties I've added a short rabbit strip tail, combining two items in flies carp enjoy, and they have worked. And bubbles, everybody be cognizant of those.

  8. This is really good stuff. Thanks for sharing it Gregg !! I have fished "bubblers" for yrs, but never with an indicator. You have opened up a box of pandoras (Ha !!) for me now ... a ton of things to experiment with.


  9. Gregg, one thing ... I am assuming the eggs are tied without weight, yes ? Just the weight of the hook is enough to induce the correct sink-rate ?

  10. Hello JM,

    Very nice cobia! I'm pleased someone else has noticed bubbles, I sure do. Yes sir, I use an egg hook, an Allen or TMC 105, as noted above. The weight is enough to sink mine rapidly after I wet them and then press the air out that remains. I've had them over fish 5' deep that took within 15-20 seconds after the cast to the bubbles. I do use one also with bead cahin eyes and a short zonker strip tail, it works well and adds a bit to the sink rate. I super enjoy watching my float sit over bubbles with my heart in my throat!

    Best, Gregg

  11. Thank you for this. Appreciate it

  12. Hi, what are your preferred indicators?

  13. I use the pegged, quick release indicators. Releasing is particularly important when I am fishing deeper water.