Book review: Author’s new carp flies book truly the ‘best’

HUNGRY? Here's a carp smorgasbord of deliciousness.(Jim Burns)

HUNGRY? Here’s a carp smorgasbord of deliciousness.(Jim Burns)

We’re currently in the salad days of books about carping, with Orvis releasing two during the last two years. Both are good, and, as they say “three’s a charm.”

For the carp enthusiast as well as fly-tying fanatic, Jay Zimmerman’s “The Best Carp Flies: How to Tie and Fish Them”(Headwater Books; $29.95) is that home run for which you’ve been waiting. Zimmerman is a wordsmith among his many other talents, penning two previous books. His care with the plume certainly shows, as the writing in this big volume is crisp, clean and engaging. I only wish the copy editor had taken more care with his marvelous prose.

After a straightforward introduction to the sport, as well as a guide to what should be on your fly-tying table, he gets into the meat of the book, 22 must-have patterns and variations. OK, so he didn’t include our river’s Tortilla Fly, but you’ll find such notables as the Swimming Nymph, Near ‘Nuff Crayfish and Barry’s Carp Fly. Each recipe comes with a couple dozen steps and color photographs. I mean, even in the era of YouTube, this book is exactly what you need to become a better fly-tier and fly fisher.image

Also, Zimmerman addresses those trying to tie the “next great carp fly.” His depth of knowledge will put you ahead in the next carp fly swap. He’ll have you checking your fly’s weight, buying a testing tank and, most probably, upgrading your equipment. This book pushed me over the edge to finally buy that rotating vise I’ve been craving. The book’s price of $29.95 is well worth admission to a greatly expanded carping world.

If you read California Fly Fish magazine, look for my detailed review in next month’s issue.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Calendar item: Peter Bennett river photo workshop slated for April 25

Peter Bennett

Peter Bennett

The Los Angeles River runs over 50 miles through the heart of a metro area populated by 10 million people. Yet in a place where water is such a precious commodity, hardly any of the inhabitants know the river’s history, where it begins or ends, or its current function. In fact, the patchwork of governments and agencies that control the river make it almost impossible to access it without trespassing. No other American city has so completely turned its back on such a resource. Most see it as a hideous scar on the landscape, a polluted dystopian highway through the heart of urban darkness. Yet, it is also a rich cultural canvas of striking visuals and unlimited potentials.

Join photographer Peter Bennett ( as he takes you along an incredible, picturesque 10-hour river adventure, designed specifically for photographers. Peter’s intimate knowledge of the river and its history allows him to assist fellow photographers in finding unique and undiscovered places to shoot, all while providing technical help and great fellowship.

Please make sure to see a slideshow of Peter Bennett’s work on the Los Angeles River published through

One-day workshop

Date: Saturday, April 25, 8:30 am – 6:30 pm

Location: The Los Angeles River. Students will meet a the Los Angeles River Center and Gardens, 570 W. Ave 26 #250, Los Angeles, CA 90065

Enrollment limit: 18 students

Skill/Experience level: Students should have a working knowledge of their camera and the ability to shoot in manual mode. A basic understanding of photography fundamentals is required.

Students should have a working knowledge of their camera and the ability to shoot in manual mode. A basic understanding of photography fundamentals is required. –

See more at:
Tuition: $250 + $145 bus, docent, location permit and lunch fee

*Fee includes: Hands-on instruction and guidance, a docent, access to all locations, bus transportation throughout the day, lunch at Hop Louie in Chinatown, and snacks & water.

A special note from Peter Bennett:

“I am happy to announce the launch of my new blog: LA River Pix –

This blog is really a labor of love as it will be a place to showcase photos of my favorite subject, a place I have been going back to for years now and still find something new and exciting to shoot (with a camera) each time. It will also be a place to teach about photography, the classes and workshops I have been leading have been going great and this will be an opportunity to supplement them and have some fun doing it.

If you get a chance, take a visit. If you like it, please support it by subscribing, and if you know someone else who might be interested, please spread the word.

But most of all, go down and take a look for yourself and see what is happening along the river’s banks. There are some exciting changes already happening, the future looks bright and I believe the LA River is on its way to becoming an iconic and integral part of Los Angeles. Also, go to the site and learn how you can be a part of a major decision that is coming up regarding the future of the river and all of LA, and make your voice heard.”

– See more at:

Summerlike heat throws LA River carp back into spawn

QUACK: Hope our friends from Canada brought sunscreen.

QUACK: Hope our friends from Canada brought sunscreen. (Jack Kelly)

By Greg Madrigal

Guest Contributor

I wanted to let everyone know what I saw yesterday, what I have seen going on in the Long Beach area where the FoLAR event happened Saturday.  I got one nice carp and my two buddies were skunked. I also caught a female turtle, chased by two males in an attempt to mate. We have a real red slider colony there.

I  also spotted mallards and Canadian geese nesting with eggs on the water, I caught a quick glimpse of an African-clawed frog zipping to the surface for air and back down into the algae. And I also saw what I believe could have been a mirror carp, and I definitely spotted a koi in reddish orange and black mottled.

We were surrounded by a cacophony of birds, including black-necked stilts, Canadian geese, mallards, seagulls, gray blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, and coots.

SLIDERS aren't just for stealing bases.

SLIDERS aren’t just for stealing bases. (Jack Kelly)

On a sad note, we have noticed on more than one occasion, snaggers throwing out treble hooks and trying to snag carp.  Yesterday, I noticed one poor carp who looked like he was nailed twice on the back by one of these large treble hooks.  He had two very large and deep gashes across its back.  Heads up to anybody heading there to anonymously call DFG’s CAL-Tip hotline (888-334-2258), if you see these guys.

Editor’s Note: Nick Blixt emailed: “I hit the river today (as did a lot of people), and wow are those fish in spawning mode. I still saw quite a few hook-ups, but people had to target the few non-mating stragglers that weren’t running up and down the currents. Al Q. and I observed one guy chucking rocks at a group of them—luckily karma took hold, and he fell in waist deep a few minutes later.”

The spawn seems to be in full swing with carp completely oblivious to our presence and boiling in packs of five- to-15 fish.

Good news for next year!

CARP-I-LI-CIOUS: Greg Madrigal grips and grins in Long Beach.

CARP-I-LI-CIOUS: Greg Madrigal grips and grins in Long Beach. (Jack Kelly)

A common and a mirror netted in Long Beach fish study

So, if you asked me, “hey, Jim, did you have the work week from hell?’ I’d pretty much say, “yup, and goodbye to all that.” Because today is Saturday. And Saturday was custom-made for fishing, just like a sweet, summertime mint julep.

Why have a workweek gloom-over when my calendar read: FoLAR Citizen Fishing event, 2 p.m.

And isn’t citizen fishing just really a wonderful excuse to fish for the best cause (science), jaw-bone with old friends, meet new ones,  and be in awe (I know I am) of both Rosi Dagit and Sabrina Drill, the biologists who keep mining our river for fishy clues? And a shout out to FoLAR’s Bill Bowling, organizer extraordinaire, and to Trout Unlimited’s Bob Blankenship.

So this marvelous (hot) Saturday afternoon, about a dozen anglers and assorted others all met to continue the conversation of what the heck is in the river in Long Beach. Observers could tell something was up from the telltale Home Depot orange buckets that lined the bank. No mullets, nor smelt. Today’s puzzle pieces: a 5-pound common carp and a slightly smaller mirror.

And it is on days such as this one that I count  

DRIPPING WET: Todd Suttle pulled in this common carp on a tortilla fly. He also found a dollar bill. (Jim Burns)

 my blessings to have many riverly friends, and feel connected to something truly awesome.

See you on the river, Jim Burns