Carp Bitter Fly Step-by-Step

Carp Bitter Fly Step-by-Step:

 I’ve had a slow year when it comes to carp. My favorite local water was wiped out by a massive algal bloom, and I just haven’t had many opportunities to target these golden bonefish otherwise. Still, they remain on my mind, and, after hearing of a friend’s success in early October, I decided it was time to expand my carp hunting arsenal. Reviewing a few of my favorite texts and some old notes on the topic, I settled on a number patterns worth adding.

The first of those, the Carp Bitter, will be the subject of this week’s tutorial. The creation of Barry Reynolds, this fly has long proven effective in both stillwaters and riparian systems.

Gamakatsu SL45 (#6) 70 Denier (Olive-Brown) Material Lead-free Round Wire (0.20″)
Materials Marabou (Olive; Barred) Materials Barred Rubber Legs (Olive) Bead Chain (Med.; Black)
Materials SLF Dubbing (Dragonfly Dark) India Hen (Olive)Materials SLF Dubbing (Dragonfly Dark)

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Carp Bitter Fly Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:

(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge or rotate phone to landscape)

Tips and Tricks

  1. Color Selection – As was the case with all of the carp patterns previously shared on this blog, this fly is at its best when tied in Olive, Rust/Orange, Black or Brown. Having a few of each in your box could pay dividends next time you’re on the water.
  2. Substitutions – Of note, the original pattern utilizes Wapsi Crawdub Dubbing for the body. In the absence of this specific material, I elected to pivot to Whitlock’s SLF Dubbing. Perhaps a bit flashier than Crawdub, SLF (Standard-Living-Fiber) is extremely buggy and has worked well on other carp flies in the past. In the absence of both, simply select the buggiest dubbing you have on hand.
  3. Adhesives & Carp Flies – I’ve posted this previously as part of the Primordial Carp Stew SBS, but it bears repeating. At least among fish, carp have a renowned sense of smell. While that doesn’t stop everyone from using super glue, flex seal or Zap-a-Gap in their fly design, it is enough to give me pause. Personally, I’d rather catch a few fish before my fly falls apart as opposed to not catching any fish due to the smell of my fly. This isn’t to say you can’t use these adhesives and fixing agents on your fly, just keep in mind that they may be the problem if carp keep refusing your offerings.

Proof of Concept

While still unproven for carp, this fly has successfully landed a variety of panfish, exotics cichlids and even gar.

Tight Line!


Species Caught on the Carp Bitter Fly to Date:
  1. Bluegill
  2. Spotted Sunfish
  3. Mayan Cichlid
  4. Oscar
  5. Florida Gar

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