Fly Fishing For Pike With Airflo Fishing Tackle – By Ben Fox

If you fly fish for pike and predator species then you need serious tackle for the job. This fishing tackle review by all-round angler Ben Fox takes a look at  the great range of predator fly rods, lines and leaders available from Airflo.

Pike have always held a fascination with me, the biggest, basest, most beautiful predator in  UK freshwater and after years of targeting them on lures, deadbaits and the like I have finally ventured into pike on the fly. But I needed some specialist equipment. Luckily, Airflo are a one stop shop for all things fly fishing, pike included and I have now found my ideal set up.

Ben Fox Fly fishing for pike on a canal

Ben Fox Fly fishing for pike on a canal

After using the Forty Plus Expert lines from my trout fishing set up for the first few months with little to no issues, I did find I sometimes struggled to get out a longer line with a large heavier pattern into the air. I had assumed, wrongly, that this was just something I needed to work on.

Enter the Airflo Forty Plus Sniper fly line. An aggressive taper, short head, big fly specialist, predator line. Coupled with the excellent Airflo Bluetooth Nano 9” #8/9 weight fly rod, the 9 weight intermediate line was a dream to handle, the line matching with and loading the rod perfectly. I also had the Airflo titanium predator polyleader to replace my usual fluorocarbon leader to the wire trace, I’ll go into to more detail on this later.

Enter the Forty Plus Sniper fly line....

Enter the Forty Plus Sniper fly line….

The Sniper line range

The intermediate is an ideal all-round line for canals and smaller waters where fishing at great depth isn’t required (have a look at the Di3 and Di7 versions if you need to get deeper) so it was spot on for my test session on a local canal. There where two main areas I wanted to look at with the line, its ability to handle big, heavy, air resistant patterns and its ability to cast in tight spots (hoping the reduced head would help with this).

First however, I wanted to get an idea of how the set up handled with a pretty standard sized fly. A 2/0 perch pattern is one that has taken some sizeable pike for me in my short pike fly fishing career. My first impressions where good, the line didn’t struggle with the size and weight of the fly and the polyleader aided the turn over as I started to cover all the likely looking spots where pike like to lay in ambush.

Casting with the Forty Plus sniper line and Airflo Bluetooth fly rod

Casting with the Forty Plus sniper line and Airflo Bluetooth fly rod

The line behaved well with both standard and oval casting styles and only requires a short amount of the head to be outside the tip to sufficiently load the rod and shoot the running line. The line had ticked my first box – it can cover the distance required with minimum back cast making it ideal for the often cramped spots you find on UK canals and rivers.

Next for the big stuff. I had with me some tandem flies tied using two 5/0 hooks joined with a clip and a good heap of flash added to that. Heavy, wind resistant, big! Exactly what I usually hate and struggle to cast. No issues, the line didn’t struggle, feel unmanageable, loose contact with the fly or fail to turn the fly over. It felt like more than a good enough match and gave me the confidence to fish the larger heavier patterns I would usually shy away from. This has led me to buy both the floating and Di3 versions of the line and it won’t be long before the Di7 joins the ranks and I can confidently target pike in any situation!

The leader:

The Airflo titanium polyleaders feature a solid welded loop, a top quality wire trace and a strong, reliable snap swivel. The wire trace is welded expertly onto the leader with minimum disturbance to the taper and provides a strong connection which you can trust to hold.

Airflo titanium predator leader

Airflo titanium predator leader

The leader material is stiff which eliminates the possibility of kinking and aids turn over, something that for most is a must when it comes to pike on the fly. The clip used to attach the flies is solid, admittedly it did take me a while to figure it out but once you do it’s easy to use and seems impossible to split, bend or break, allowing for fast changes on the bank.

The quick change clip on the predator leader

The quick change clip on the predator leader

Kinks in leaders are a nightmare for any angler targeting toothy predators and especially while fly fishing, I believe a good wind knot would put a lasting kink in any leader. So of course after I add a few tailing loops to my cast one appears right next to the snap swivel. I expect this to be game over and another leader needed but the leader had barely changed and straightened well after being unknotted. The connection to the polyleader was solid, as tested by several sizeable snags, and the breaking strain (30lb) was more than enough to pull my fly out of the various detritus found in the canal. Sadly, I didn’t get to test it on a fish on the afternoon of the photo shoot for this review but I’m sure it will handle even the biggest pike comfortably.

Too summarise:

If you’re thinking of trying your hand at pike fly fishing I cannot recommend these lines and leaders enough, combined with the Bluetooth Nano rods and a selection of pike flies you really can’t go wrong. They’ve changed my pike fly fishing!

About the author

A qualified guide and fishing instructor, Ben Fox is based in Yorkshire but operates throughout the country. An all-round angler proficient in many disciplines, quality angling coaching or a guided fishing trips can be arranged via Ben’s website here.

Ben Fox with a magnificent fly caught pike!

Ben Fox with a magnificent fly caught pike! Source Ben Fox Facebook page.

New Daiwa ProRex Predator Fishing Tackle

Late autumn is traditionally the time when predator fishing begins with a vengeance. Water temperatures have cooled down, bait fish are beginning to shoal up and pike, zander and perch are feeding hard in readiness for winter. To take advantage of this bonanza, all you need is a good set of predator fishing equipment.

For autumn 2018 and on Fishtec are stocking the new ProRex range of predator fishing tackle by Daiwa. We believe this range offers superb value for money, whether you are looking for a rod, reel, luggage or a complete set up. In this blog we take a closer look at the new ProRex items being stocked by Fishtec.

Daiwa ProRex spinning rods – From £54.99

At last, a versatile range of lure fishing rods for almost every predatory species you can think of; pike, perch, trout, zander, sea bass, salmon, saltwater species – you can catch them all. Available in 6, 7, 8 and 9 foot options, with various casting weights through the range from as little as 7 gram to a whopping 80 gram.

What does Daiwa say?

”This Prorex rod series offers very lightweight and at the same time fast action blanks. Each rod action has been particularly adopted to suit the requirements of casting all sizes of shads and plugs; hence their crisp and tensile feel. However the HVF fibre blank features an astonishing handling and loads over the whole tip section during casting – perfect for long distances. X45 bias construction reduces torque assisting higher accuracy a smooth bending curve is realised thanks to V-Joint. The Prorex rod series combines latest rod technology with a classical design at an exceptional price-performance ratio.”

What we like

The blanks are very slim, sensitive and transmit a lot of feel when fishing a shad or bouncing a heavyj jig back. Importantly, the handles are made of cork which gives them a really nice feel in cold and wet weather. Eyes, finish and reel fittings are all top class, making these rods brilliant value for money.

Daiwa ProRex XR lure rods – from £99.99

The big brother of the ProRex rod range, the XR offers even more performance with the latest technological innovations from Daiwa.

What does Daiwa say?

”The Prorex XR rods offer the very latest in blank construction thanks to exclusive DAIWA technology. Lightweight and extremely fast each features outrageously pleasant handling, enabling you to use for longer periods without fatigue. The sensitive tip action ensures an optimal lure presentation, perfectly buffering lunges and head shakes during the fight, reducing the risk of hook pulls. The use of HVF nanoplus carbon creates a more lightweight and at the same time tougher blank. The result is a quicker recovery enabling long distance casting, with large levels of power in reserve. X45 bias construction also reduces rod twisting during the cast, thus assisting accuracy and increasing power conversion. In addition the V-Joint spigot guarantees an even bending curve. The original Fuji TVS reel seat ensures a direct contact to the blank for optimal feel and lure control. Award winning Prorex XR rods offer an outstanding price-performance ratio”

What we like

The blanks are noticeably fine diameter, and the power to weight ratio is simply incredible. The reel seat is a top of the line Fuji, while the Fuji alconite line guides offer unparalleled line flow and protection from braided mainlines. Featuring Daiwas unique moveable hook holder, these rod are nicely finished and for the angler looking for a premium lure rod are a fantastic buy. A comprehensive range of lengths and casting weights means there is a model for everyone.

Daiwa ProRex spinning reels – £119.99

A good rod demands a quality reel and once again Daiwa (some would say the masters of the reel world) have come up trumps with a superb predator fishing reel range. We stock two sizes, 2500 and 3020.

What do Diawa say

”The Prorex reels are designed for hunting predators, particularly pike. They are a large capacity, quick ratio reel featuring an aluminium frame and an ATD carbon drag.”

What do we like

Solid, smooth with full aluminum construction throughout these are great reels. It’s best not to skimp on quality when selecting a reel for hard fishing predator fish and this one is built to last. The drag here is slick, firm, has no start up inertia and is easily adjustable. A total of 9 ball bearing make this reel a reel pleasure to bring in your line or a fish with. They are suitable for a wide range of species, as well as pike.

Daiwa ProRex lure bag – £49.99

The perfect piece of fishing luggage for carrying your lure collection, or end tackle and traces.

What do Diawa say

”This bag offers plenty of space for the storage of lures and supplies. The bag includes 3 big tackle boxes of the common size 36 x 33.5 x 5.5cm. The bags rubberized bottom prevents the intrusion of moisture from below. Both front pockets offer space for the transportation of smaller boxes for jig hooks, swivels etc. The padded shoulder strap ensures carrying comfort even if the bag is fully loaded and thus heavy. All of the bag’s outer material is water repellent and restrains short showers without soaking.”

What do we like

It’s fairly compact design means it is portable and not too heavy. The free tackle boxes are a nice touch, and there is plenty of room in the side pockets for all of your lure fishing tackle and accessories. The material is very heavy duty and looks like it could withstand the worst of the UK weather plus stand the test of time. A comfortable shoulder strap makes carrying it very easy.

Daiwa ProRex Landing net – £39.99

After all the hard work of getting your quarry to take your lure loosing that fish is simply not an option. To ensure your hook-up ends with a happy capture a decent landing net is a real boon. Enter the ProRex net.

What do Diawa say

”The Prorex nets feature an aluminum frame of 1.3 cm in diameter, light and strong. Their sleeve has grip EVA high density logo Prorex. Depending on the model, the frame snaps and / or withdrawal and the handle is telescopic or slides in the head to save space.

What do we like

Generously sized at 70cm x 50 cm these nets can accommodate good sized predator fish. The frame folds up, allowing for easy transportation. The extending net handle and rim is made of a super strong yet light weight aluminum material. Most importantly, the net mesh is made of a modern rubber composite, which is incredibly fish friendly and resistant to hooks, enabling you to get on with it without risk of snagging your gear up.


Fly Fishing For Pike On Canals And Small Waters

From pint-sized rivers and drains to classic narrowboat canals, smaller waters offer some cracking pike fishing on the fly. Canal Fishing author Dom Garnett shares a wealth of tips and tricks to getting the best from these delightful fisheries.


The biggest waters might steal the headlines, but smaller venues offer cheap and accessible sport for pike.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

With so many British anglers living within a few miles of a canal, these waters could very well be described as “bread and butter” fishing. However, I don’t want to do them a disservice because the sport on offer can be truly excellent. Admittedly, most canals contain few really large predators, but they often have good numbers of fit, aggressive pike to provide year round sport, along with the odd surprise.

Canals, in particular, have a special place in my heart. In fact, I may never have got into pike fishing without the local “cut.” Virtually every time I went to catch a netful of small roach and perch, one of these predators would crash the party, stealing a fish on the way in or even attacking the keep net. Inevitably, I eventually decided I wanted to get even and land one.

Although I grew up as a bait or lure fisherman on these waters, it was the fly that was to become my absolute favourite method. On so many levels, it seemed the ideal way to fish the canal. You don’t need silly heavy tackle for one thing; an eight-weight rod suffices. Nor do you need to cast miles – and in fact some of my best fish came from right under the bank.

So where should you start when it comes to canal fishing for pike? Here are some tips  that also apply to fishing for pike on drains, fens and smaller rivers.

Which fly rod is best for pike on smaller waters?

On so many smaller waters, the pike are modest sized and you don’t need a ten or eleven weight rod. Much of the time, I use a nine or eight weight, which is fine provided you don’t use huge flies. In some ways the weight class is just a number – so do go for a rod with some backbone (a pike or saltwater model is ideal and currently I’m using the Airflo Bluetooth 8/9 for my small water fishing which so far seems a pretty decent rod without a silly price tag).

Fly lines, leaders and traces for pike


A nice fish from the towpath. Typically, canal pike will be in the 1-5lbs stamp, while a “double” should be regarded as an excellent catch.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

In terms of fly lines, go for a dedicated pike model if you can afford one. You want quite a meaty taper to turn over the flies. However, if you’re just starting out and only have a trout fly line, you’ll still manage with smaller pike flies. 90% of the time a floating line is all you need for smaller waters; in fact I’ve only ever switched to a fast intermediate on the biggest ship canals that are over ten feet deep.

Leaders must be robust because there’s always the potential for a surprise monster. There’s no advantage at all in using lighter leaders, so go for minimum 20lbs fluorocarbon. I tend to use about seven or so feet of this, attached to a wire trace. My traces are Authanic wire, or another knotable wire, but I don’t use big clips and swivels: a small, neat leader ring connects leader to trace, while a small but tough snaplink connects to the fly.

How long should a wire trace be for pike? Mine are always 18” minimum, because otherwise a good fish could wrap around and find leader to cut. I also find the ends of the trace tend to kink first, so if I start long I can retie once or twice, without ending up with a riskily short trace.

Best pike flies for smaller waters


I choose smaller than average pike flies for fishing canals. Here are some of my designs.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

So many of the pike flies for sale are massive great things. Fine for big waters and ten weight rods, but a pig to cast on lighter gear. So my advice would be to scale down to hook sizes from say 2-1/0 and flies from 3”-5”. Don’t think for a minute you need to use big flies to catch good pike!

I carry a few different sizes and colours. Natural hues are a good starting point, in roach or perch colouration. If the water is a bit dirty though, orange or pink are excellent high-vis colours. Last but not least, I think black is the all time most underrated colour for pike. Few anglers use it but it has saved me a blank several times.

Where to find pike


Pike can be anywhere on weedy, feature rich waters. However, the “shelf” on each side of the canal, along with any pieces of cover, are ideal starting points.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Canals can vary quite a lot, but the golden rule to finding pike is to keep moving and searching until you locate them! It’s no use fishing just one or two spots. All kinds of features will attract them, from overhanging bushes to bends, wides and deeper areas.

On rural canals, you might find the fish right by bankside reeds and undergrowth. On just about any water, the “drop off” on each side (i.e. just as the margins fall away to the central “track”) is also a key ambush point. That said, in the dead of winter you may find pike right in the deep centre of the canal too.

Concentrations of prey fish are also worth looking out for, of course, although you may well find the pike a few yards, or even a few swims away, because unless it’s feeding time they will seldom be right in amongst the shoal. But explore everything, because quite often a seemingly featureless spot produces pike too.

Fly retrieves for pike

Perhaps the commonest mistake for beginner pike fly anglers to make is lashing their flies in ultra fast. If the fish are up for it, or you can see prey panicking, this can work. But most of the time, a slower retrieve is called for – and I like my fly to be “busy” and erratic but not too fast. A “picky” figure of eight retrieve is quite often effective.

Do experiment, however, because pike have definite “moods”. Sometimes it’s as if they are excitable and want to chase; other days they are temperamental and need more time to lash out.

Follows, takes and hook ups


Canal pike tend to be small on average- unless you’re lucky, like The General.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Do pike always follow a fly out of hunger? I don’t think so. A lot of the time, they’re just being curious, territorial or perhaps even irritated. This could explain why quite a few fish will follow but not take. Even so, you can increase the odds by doing two things.

The first is to speed up if you see a pike following. The opposite response seems natural, but you are trying to get a reaction, not invite the pike to study the thing. Another trick is never to rush the end of the retrieve. Count to five before you lift out – and always give a few final twitches and a nice lift. Often this final burst of movement will convince a pike to lash out before dinner gets away.

Some takes will be savage and impossible to miss. Others can be more subtle and need striking. I’ve heard anglers make the case for doing this with the line or the rod. I like to do both! It sounds OTT, but pike have very bony mouths and we’re using heavy tackle so it’s safe to be bold. Pull the line firmly and shift the rod low to one side – striking upwards will often just pull the fly straight out of the mouth, rather than burying it in the “scissors” of the jaw.

Casting in tight spots

Of course, one of the challenges of canals and bushy small waters can be the lack of casting space. You’ll rarely need to cast more than ten to fifteen metres, but even that might be tricky. Side and steeple casts (where you throw the line high above an obstruction behind you) are often important. You can also work diagonally to win more space.

If you’re really struggling though, don’t panic. If there’s cover close-in you can often win a take or two by literally just flicking the fly around the margins, which is a good area. Too many of us are so busy trying to hit the far bank it’s easy to forget this.

Talking of close-in fishing, do approach each swim slowly and carefully. I usually start a step or three back from the bank and my first cast will be right into the near margin. I’ve learned to do this after spooking many pike in the near margin over the years – don’t believe anyone who tells you pike don’t spook!

Notes on pike conservation

As well as these tips on catching pike, I also wanted to include some notes on releasing them safely here. The vast majority of fishing waters will insist on a large landing net and unhooking mat, which you should always carry. It’s inexcusable to risk scratching or dropping a fish on the bank because you couldn’t be bothered to bring a mat!

You’ll also need minimum foot-long pliers or forceps to remove hooks from pike, and I recommend going and learning the ropes with an experienced angler if you’re just starting out.

Pike can fight hard and can be deceptively fragile creatures, so do play the fish quickly rather than exhausting them. The same goes for release; don’t handle or keep them out of water any longer than you need to (my recent guide to fishcare skills is a handy read on this subject).

Fantastic sport!


A well-proportioned fish, from a modest day ticket water.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

What can you expect with a typical canal? Well, they vary a great deal. The best canals for pike tend to be weedy, with fairly clear water. Those with lots of prey and cover can be prolific, and a dozen pike in a day is possible. As a general rule, I find overcast days best on clear canals and drains, while the first hour of daylight is the best time of all (lie-in addicts take note!).

Other canals and drains can be more coloured and difficult, but you may still get some joy. Indeed, you’d be surprised how well a pike can find your fly in poor clarity. Where visibility is low, you might want to go a bit bigger and brighter though.

Of course, some canals simply don’t have a huge head of pike and you may have to do some homework to seek out the specific areas they like, or rely on trial and error. Others may be dominated by other predators such as perch, or zander on the muddy, busy canals. These are another challenge altogether – but that’s another story!

A summary of top tips for fly fishing for pike

What tackle and equipment do you need to fish for pike on the fly in canals and smaller waters?

  • You don’t need heavy tackle – and eight or nine-weight rod will suffice (a pike or saltwater model is ideal).
  • In terms of fly lines, go for a dedicated pike model if you can afford one.
  • If you only have a trout fly line, use smaller pike flies.
  • Leaders must be robust – go for minimum 20lbs fluorocarbon. Dom uses about seven feet attached to a wire trace.
  • Don’t use big clips and swivels. On Dom’s set up, a small, neat leader ring connects leader to trace, while a small but tough snaplink connects to the fly.
  • For pike, use a minimum 18” wire trace.
  • You don’t need big flies to catch good pike! Scale down to hook sizes from 2-1/0 and flies from 3”-5”.
  • Use natural coloured flies for clearer water, and try orange or pink in poor visibility. Black is the most underrated fly colour for pike. Try it and see!
  • Be ready with the right equipment for safe catch and release – a large landing net, unhooking mat and foot-long pliers are essential.

What techniques help when fly fishing for pike on a canal?

  • Keep moving to find pike – try underneath overhanging bushes, bends, wides and deeper areas.
  • There’s no need to cast miles – great fish are often found right under the bank.
  • Don’t retrieve too quickly – most of the time, a slower retrieve is called for. Dom likes his fly to be “busy” and erratic but not too fast.
  • A “picky” figure of eight retrieve is often effective.
  • Lots of follows but no takes? Try speeding up to invite an attack response.
  • Don’t rush the end of your retrieve. Count to 5 before you lift out and give a few final twitches before you lift out.
  • Strike low and hard to one side, rather than upwards.
  • Don’t believe anyone who tells you pike don’t spook!

Read more from the author…


Find out more about catching these fish – grab a copy of Flyfishing For Coarse Fish, available in both hardback and digital editions.

If you’re interested in exploring Britain’s fantastic variety of canals, or indeed tackling coarse fish on the fly, Dom’s books represent a wealth of inspiration and advice! Find both Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide and Flyfishing for Coarse Fish available in signed hardback at or as digital editions from Amazon UK. If you live in South West England, Dom also offers guided fly fishing days for pike and other species.

10 Great Reasons To Watch Fishing TV!!

If you’ve been watching the latest fishing series to hit the screens in the UK, Carp Wars, you’ll know that TF Gear’s pro angler Dave Lane has been putting in a strong performance!

What you may not know is that the programme was made by a new video on demand service seeking to shake up the world of fishing television in the same way that Netflix is challenging traditional TV channels – Fishing TV.  The service is available as an app for smartphone, tablet and SmartTV, as well as being available on a variety of other set-top boxes and devices, including Amazon Fire TV Sticks.

Fed up with the mediocre, lowest-common denominator programmes on TV, they not only make their own excellent shows and films, but also scour the planet for the very best fishing content available to mankind. There are channels dedicated to every major style of fishing, but in this ‘top 10’ we’ve chosen from The Carp Channel, Coarse and Match Fishing, and Predators.

Carp Wars

Carp Wars

As mentioned above, Carp Wars is one of the shows that Fishing TV have created and produced themselves, and it acts as a brilliant example of the way these guys think about fishing and how to present it on TV.

The concept is straightforward: five of the UK’s best carp anglers and one ‘unknown’ lock horns in a series of one-on-one carp fishing matches, held over 24 hours. After 15 matches the top two anglers go through to a grand final, held over 48 hours at the Etang le Fays fishery in France. Each match is one half hour episode, and with the likes of Ian Russell, Dave Lane and Ian Chillcott taking part it really is a who’s who of the carp fishing world. The series has been airing on Sky Sports, but every episode broadcast so far is available to stream from Fishing TV.

If you like this you’ll also like: Chilly on Carp 1 & 2

Carp Up Close
Join Tom ‘The Machine’ Maker as he embarks on a quest to bag himself a 40lb carp. With narration by Nick Hancock, this sixty minute documentary style film contains some great big fish action and features, among other fish, a huge UK-caught catfish.

If you like this you’ll also like: Year of the Compulsive Angler

The Tuition with Iain Macmillan
In this feature length film professional carp fishing tutor Iain Macmillan offers practical advice and answers to the most common questions that he get asked by his clients. He covers everything from spooling a reel to fish care and plenty in between. Filmed at a private lake and with lots of fish in the net over the course of the film, this is a great watch for anyone hoping to improve their carp fishing.

If you like this you’ll also like: Carp Coach – Ian Russell

Improve your Coarse Fishing with Kev Green
The title says it all, really. The sadly departed Kev Green shares hints and tips to improve your success rate when coarse fishing in this 10-part series. He looks at a range of target species and tactics, and employs the help of a few friends along the way. In Kev’s own words “The series is all about helping people catch more and bigger fish on venues they can identify with. We are targeting many different species in many different ways”

If you like this you’ll also like: Duncan Charman’s Monthly Thoughts

Fishing with Des Taylor
Des is one of the best known angling journalists working at them moment. In this 10-part series he travels the UK to target some of our most popular species, including predators from the Thames, lake pike and, crucian carp and even grayling.

If you like this you’ll also like: Club Class

Fish of My Dreams
British angler Stu Walker has been dreaming of catching one particular fish, and it isn’t one you can find in your local lake. He’s been desperate to catch an ‘Indian Salmon’ or Golden Mahseer, to give it its proper name. And you can only find them if you’re prepared to go to… yes, India. Stu and his crew head to the Himalayas, to a roaring mountain river near the boarder with Nepal, trekking for hours, camping under the stars and risking attracting the attentions of the local leopards, all for a shot at a trophy mahseer.

If you like this you’ll also like: Welcome to Africa

The Truth about Feeder Fishing
England International match fisherman Alex Bones shares the secrets of feeder fishing, from bombs to PVA, cones to cages. He enlists the help of some of his fishing buddies – the likes of Alan Scotthorne and Darren Cox. Shhhh… the secret is out!

If you like this you’ll also like: The Truth about Pole Fishing

Hunky Dory
If predator fishing is your game then you’re sure to love Hunky Dory, a half hour examination of the strange breed of anglers who are prepared to endure sub-zero temperatures for the chance of catching a musky, the pike’s north American cousin.

If you like this you’ll also like: Musky Country

Dean Macey’s Fishing Adventures
Dean Macey is best known as an Olympic decathlete, but since hanging up the his running shoes he’s been able to focus on his other passion in life: fishing. In this 8 part series he travels the UK and the rest of the world in search of new fishing experiences, whether that’s hunting monster cats in the Mekong, Arapaima in Thailand or barbell on the River Wye.

If you like this you’ll also like: The FishingTV Show

Pike Secrets 1
Want to catch more pike? Then these films are for you. Over two hours expert angler Gordon P Henricksen covers all the things you need to know to improve your pike fishing, including examinations of different lures and baits, underwater footage and hints on how to use pike behaviour to your advantage.

If you like this you’ll also like: Lair of the Water Wolf

How to watch Fishing TV:

Fishtec in conjunction with Fishing TV are giving away a FREE Fishing TV gift card with every order over £20 this month!

The card is worth £5 and will have 20 tokens pre-loaded on it with a unique code – enough to watch plenty of fishing shows.

To get one, simply place an order for over £20 and claim the card in your basket as a free gift.

Fishing TV Gift card – Free with all orders over £20

Float Tube Fishing

Float tubes can open a whole world to the fisherman, whether you are a flyfisher or a predator specialist. In this blog we take a look at the world of float tubing and the advantages they can bring to your fishing.

Float tube fishing - a great way to fish!!

Float tube fishing – a fun way to fish!!

What are they?

A float tube (aka belly boat) is an inflatable fishing craft originally based on a tractor tyre inner tube. These early ‘donut’ designs have long been replaced with much better U or V shaped hulls designed to cut through the water efficiently. Float tubes typically have an integrated seat and a bar across the lap with a mesh tray designed to keep you from slipping out.

You propel yourself about the lake by using a pair of fins attached to your fishing waders. These fins are much like those used by scuba divers, although specialist types are available. The paddling motion required is very much like cycling a bike – but backwards.

float tube with fins

Float tube, fins and life jacket – the essentials!

Are they safe?

Float tubes in our opinion are even safer than a boat. They feature multiple inflation bladders and a thick cordura covered hull; which when taunt is very resistant to punctures. Once inside the tube it is almost impossible to flip yourself out or go into the water.

There are however a few common sense safety concerns to address:

  • Ensure the tube is fully inflated and the valves securely tightened.
  • Never walk to the water with the flippers on, put them on at the edge.
  • Enter the water slowly backwards so you do not trip over head first.
  • Choose a gently sloping bank to access the water.
  • Wear an inflatable life jacket as a back up.
  • Wear warm waders – e.g neoprene, or a thermal undersuit even on summer days.
  • Be aware of sharp objects including your own hooks.
  • Stick to stillwater – never tube in a flowing river or the sea.

Float tube techniques – the advantages they bring.

Float tubes allow complete freedom of movement, giving you a huge advantage if a boat is not available on the venue. They allow you a silent, stealthy approach – for whatever reason fish simply do not fear float tubes like they do a boat or wading angler. This allows you to get very close to them and  fish shoreline shallows where bank angling would instantly spook fish. As well as conventional casting, float tubes allow you to troll your flies or lures allowing you to cover a vast area easily.

A wild brown trout caught on a float tube.

A wild brown trout caught on a float tube.

Float tubes are most popular for fly fishing for trout –  a 10 foot long fly rod will help keep the line off the surface on the back cast. A floating line is the best option, a short headed 6 or 7 weight is ideal. Although for trolling with flies a full sinking line like an Airflo Di5 or Di7 will really come in handy.

Float tubes are also becoming ever more popular with the pike and predator community, for pike fly fishing or lure fishing with spinning rods. Float tubes can give you access to areas pike love that are often inaccessible from the bank – for example outside edges of weedbeds, off thick reed banks and on drop offs where treading water allows you to hover in position, and present your lures effectively.

A pike caught from a float tube

A pike caught from a float tube.

Where can I use one?

It would be great if you could use one anywhere, but you should always check fishery rules before you launch one. Generally natural venues such as the Lochs of Scotland, Pike loughs in Ireland and the Welsh mountain lakes are places where you can freely use a tube. For stocked trout fisheries the BFTA (British Float Tube Association) has a great list of float tube venues on their website. For predator anglers wherever you can use a kayak or launch your own boat to fish it should be a safe bet.

It’s great fun!!

Above all, the main draw with a float tube is the enjoyment factor. Nothing beats being out on the lake, fishing from what is essentially a comfortable armchair but with free mobility. For those who try, there is simply no looking back. So get out there and tube!

Fishtec stock the Ron Thompson Max float tube and also matching float tube fins. A great combination to help get you started on float tubing – available for just £164.98.

10 Stillwater Pike Bank Fishing Tips

As the autumn begins and temperatures drop, many anglers turn their attention to pike fishing, particularity on stillwaters. This blog post by Ceri Thomas reveals 10 essential stillwater pike fishing tips that will help you catch more pike off the bank this winter.

How do you catch specimen pike on stillwaters?

To catch a true specimen sized pike, you often have to fish a decent sized water to find them – places such as Chew valley lake, Llandegfedd, Pitsford, Blithfield etc and of course numerous glacial waters in The Lake District, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Pike fishing can be superb at this time of year on such large sheets of water but also extremely challenging, especially if you have to fish from the bank. To help improve your pike catch rates over the autumn and winter period, follow these 10 stillwater pike bank fishing tips to enhance your success.

Pike bank fishing on a large stillwater

Pike bank fishing on a large stillwater.

1. Keep mobile

It’s a catch 22 – do you stay put, or move if no runs are forthcoming? Sit it out or find fish? Personally I take the latter option every time. The more water you cover, the more chances of a feeding pike seeing your bait. If you have had no runs in an hour, up sticks. Carry your gear a few hundred yards down the bank and recast. Repeat every hour until you find action.

Being mobile can really pay off - a change of swim can produce instant results

Being mobile can really pay off – a change of swim can produce instant results.
(Image: Leighton Ryan)

2. Don’t ignore the margins

We become so obsessed with casting the baits out to the maximum range possible and bait boating to hundreds of yards that we forget about what is going on under our noses. Always try a bait in the margin, just off the first drop off. Pike are not always found at range, even on vast sheets of water. By all means, fish one rod at range, but keep your other bait closer in to start off – you might be surprised!

3. Make an extra effort to fish at dawn and dusk

Pike like both periods due to the cover it gives them. Turing up early can really be the difference between success and failure, the crack of dawn is a prime feeding period, as is sunset. On some pressured venues pike feed in the dark on discards when most anglers have gone home, so it pays to stay on into darkness a few hours if fishery rules permit.

Worth getting up early for - a 30lb pike at the crack of dawn!

Worth getting up early for – a 30lb pike at the crack of dawn!

4. Use fresh bait

Bait can be expensive, but if you could catch a 20lb plus fish each session I bet you wouldn’t mind paying just a few pounds more each trip! Look to change your bait every hour. Re-casting and exposure to the water quickly leaches out the oils and flavour that attract pike. Washed out baits simply aren’t as appealing. Resist the temptation to re-freeze baits and then use them multiple times. Old freezer burned bait lacks flavour, scent, and texture – these bad re-frozen baits simply don’t help you catch fish. From experience a fresh blast frozen bait will always outfish a re-used one. The bottom line is don’t skimp on bait, and you will be rewarded.

5. Don’t be afraid to try a lure

Off the bank deadbaiting is a very popular option, but don’t neglect the lures. It’s always worth running a lure through your swim a few times before you set your dead’s out. Firstly this could result in an instant fish, but if it doesn’t it can have the effect of ‘waking up’ any pike nearby through the disturbance and vibration caused by the lure. Those fish may then decide to take your deadbait.

6. Move your bait

This tactic isn’t used as much as it should be. Works best with a popped up bait. Cast out at a comfortable range, let the bait settle for 5 minutes then wind in a few yards. Repeat a few times with pauses of 5 – 10 minutes until you re-cast. Pike have a habit of simply sitting there watching a bait, and the movement can make them react. Expect runs just as the bait stops moving.

7. Don’t ignore small baits

I am talking really small – sprats, small sandeel, cut down macky tails, little joeys and smelt just a few inches long. On some waters these baits outfish bigger baits because the pike are so used to seeing massive herring, mackerel, whole blueys etc. thrown at them all day. They also work well when pike are visibly feeding on fry – it makes sense to ‘match the hatch’ and scale down your bait to the size on which the pike are feeding. Cast into the commotion and hang on!

8. Don’t follow the herd

You heard on the grapevine, social media, an online report or a mate that a certain area is fishing well and a big fish has been caught. Naturally you think that’s the place to head for. Chances are, If you heard about it then everyone else has heard this as well, and will have hammered the area already. I say find your own fish. Don’t follow the herd. Think outside the box and try a fresh area where people don’t fish very often. And when you do catch a decent fish, keep it to yourself.

A result of 'finding your own fish'.

A result of ‘finding your own fish’. (Image: Leighton Ryan)

9. Bring your fishing waders

Make sure you pack them – a set of sturdy boot foot cleated neoprene waders will do the job. As well as keeping you warm and dry in even the heaviest rain, these provide numerous advantages, especially on reservoirs with gently shelving banks; giving you access to much deeper water and the ability to wade beyond or through thick weed beds before you make your cast.

10. Release the flavour in your bait

Prick your bait with a knife to release juice and blood into the area. Also dip or inject your bait with flavoured fish based oil every time you re-cast, to ensure a slick leaks out to draw fish to your swim. Cod liver oil pills are also a good trick – stuff one down the throat of your deadbait. The coating will dissolve and leave a nice little slick of flavour around your bait.

Alternative Piking Methods

underwater pike shot

Image source: shutterstock
Pike – your chosen quarry

Want to add some more variety to your fishing and catch more predators this season? Fishing author Dominic Garnett has three killer methods to try.

One of the best things about pike fishing is the sheer variety of methods and waters to catch them, whether you enjoy casting lures or watching the tip of a juicy float.

But quite often, just a small handful of methods are used, to the exclusion of the rest. Which is fine – but the best and most enjoyable pike fishing methods are not always the most obvious. Here are three alternative tactics (and some of the coarse fishing tackle) I use every season to catch more pike:


wobbled canal pike

Re-inventing wobbled canal pike

Re-inventing wobbled canal pike
As old as the hills, wobbling or sink and draw fishing for pike was once hugely popular. It involves retrieving a dead fish rather like a lure, but has big advantages. It gives a lovely, slow presentation for one thing, and tends to work well on difficult days and waters where the pike have seen all the usual lures.

My favourite way to wobble is to ditch the multiple treble hooks and old fashioned rigs though, using a modified clip to hold the bait in place (usually a large snap link, with the arm bent straight and sharpened). I then use just one large treble hook.  A medium to heavy spinning rod is ideal, with a casting weight to match the size of the baits you prefer to use.

Rigged bait

Rigged bait

It is a seriously mobile method, best suited to coarse fish baits such as roach, rudd and small skimmers- although smelt is also a great bait. You can add a little weight too, and fish your wobbled bait at any speed – although one of the deadliest ways for bigger pike is to fish it really slow. As with dead baiting, you should strike quickly and firmly as soon as you see or feel a take. If a fish is following and not taking, you can stop the bait dead in the water.

It’s absolutely lethal, and seems to take an excellent stamp of pike, even on pressured waters.

Trotting for Pike

Pike fishing bait and float

Pike fishing bait and float

River piking is great fun, but it’s sometimes confusing as to why most anglers seem to prefer their bait on the bottom, completely static. On running water, pike tend to be fit and active, and a moving bait can work wonders.

By setting a bait under a decent-sized float to fish from midwater to just a foot or so above the bottom, you can search out a lot of water. You can use any hooking arrangement, but I quite like just one decent sized hook through the back of a smallish bait, hooking it so that it drifts upright.

Floating braid and a longer 12ft rod are ideal for this method. If you want to go ultra traditional, you could even try a centrepin reel, loaded with strong floating line.

The trick is to pay the line out carefully and let the bait search in the current.

Roach, smelt, sprats and others will all work well – and highly visible, dyed baits also appeal to predators. The bites tend to be lovely and obvious, allowing you to strike quickly. It’s definitely a method to try with just one rod, roaming lots of swims in a day.

Feeder Fishing for Pike

piking feeder method

Feeder method – well worth the effort

Whenever you are fishing on venues where the fish might need to travel a fair distance to find your bait, or the water isn’t very clear, ground baiting for pike can be extremely worthwhile. The smell of oily groundbait moving through the water attracts both pike and the fish they like to feed on.

The easiest way to try is simply by taking your usual pike leger rigs and adding a large swimfeeder instead of your standard lead. Many mixes work, but an effective approach is to mix a fishmeal based groundbait with some standard brown crumb, before adding a dash of oil.

With a heavy feeder, it can become cumbersome to cast large baits, so try a chopped half or perhaps a small sea fish or section of lamprey. Another thing I often do is to ditch the treble hooks and just hair rig with a larger wide-gape single.

When conditions are really ugly, such as in a muddy lake or when the river is flooded, the use of groundbait can make a huge difference. Sometimes I have fished my feeder rig and a standard version side by side for comparison; the ground-baited rig will often outfish the other by two or three to one.

Try one or more of these methods next time you’re out piking – and let us know on the Fishtec Facebook page how you get on!

Get more from your pike fishing this winter…

tangles with pikeDom Garnett’s book Tangles with Pike makes ideal reading for any pike angler. Packed with stories, articles and brilliant photography it covers many different methods and waters in entertaining style. Order it now in collectible hardback from, or as an Amazon Kindle Edition e-book




All images © Dominic Garnett

10 Pike Boat Fishing tips

When faced with a large sheet of water catching Pike from a boat can be a daunting prospect – where to start? If you follow these 10 Pike boat fishing tips the next time you are afloat on a lake or reservoir, your pike catches should increase dramatically.

Pike boat fishing success - a 35lb plus pike! Captor: Leighton Ryan

Pike boat fishing success – a 35lb plus pike! Captor: Leighton Ryan

1. Bring a fish finder. An essential bit of fishing gear for boat fishing, it’s like an extra pair of underwater eyes. It’s a huge advantage to invest in one. There are many to choose from, but Fishin Buddy and Deeper are our favourites.

Don't forget your fishfinder!

Don’t forget your fishfinder!

2. Bring a second anchor or mudweight. When fishing deadbaits an unstable moving boat means bad presentation. Bad presentation = no runs. Ensure you pack a mudweight, as most fisheries do not supply them. Anchor your boat at both ends, with the prow facing into the wind for safety reasons.

3. Drift with lures. Drifting and casting lures covering water will always outfish anchoring up and working a small area. The more water you cover with lures, the more fish will see them and the more you will catch! A drogue is an essential bit of kit, it will slow your drift to just the right speed on a windy day.

4. Cast your deadbaits far away from the boat.  I often see pike anglers  fishing with their floats way too close to the boat. Pike can be spooked from boat noise and vibration, especially during a prolonged period of pressure. From experience a good cast of 30 – 40 yards away from where you are anchored will get you more runs.

5. Find the contours, find the fish. Drop offs are where pike sit or patrol, and underwater spits and plateaus can literally be fish magnets. If you do not have a fishfinder check out the lie of the surrounding land and try and work out where submerged features may be found. If you can, get hold of a depth contour map of the venue, it will be invaluable.

A fishery contour map is invaluable.

A fishery contour map is invaluable.

6. Don’t follow the crowd. It can be very tempting to pull up and fish near to somebody who just pulled out a 30! Or if you see a cluster of boats in a bay fishing away, you might think there is a reason they are here – and decide to join in. It’s best to go looking for fresh, unfished areas where fish have been undisturbed. Find your own fish, don’t be a sheep!

7. Be mobile. This is the main advantage of a boat – you can go wherever you want! It amazes me when people anchor up and stay static all day in exactly the same spot, with often little to show for it. I like to pick a decent spot, anchor up and fish it for an hour max. I have lost count of the amount of runs that have come within the first 10 minutes. If they are there, have seen your bait and are feeding you wont be hanging around for ages waiting for action. No runs in an hour, up anchor and try somewhere else.

A Chew pike - result of a mobile approach, an instant run in a new spot.

A Chew pike – result of a mobile approach, an instant run in a new spot.

8. Stick it out. Where fishery rules permit try and stay on the water as long as possible. The last hour of fishing into dusk is often the best, a last knockings fish can save your day.

9. Run the lures through the area first. When deabaiting it pays to throw the lure around the boat for a few casts before you cast out your deads. You might pick up an instant fish, and even if you don’t the vibration and disturbance can ”wake up” pike nearby or draw them closer. They may then take your dead with gusto.

10. Be organised. A lot of success is down organising your pike fishing tackle. Ensure you set your gear out in the boat so clutter and mess is at a minimum. Get the net and unhooking matt ready for action before you begin fishing. Attach your drogue and assemble your rods prior to heading out from the jetty. Efficient organisation equals more free time, better concentration on the job in hand and ultimately results.

Pike fishing success in an organised boat

Pike fishing success in an organised boat.

6 Fantastic Flies To Add To Your Armoury

salmon fly on vice

Image source: shutterstock
Still on the vice, ready for the water!

Our big fishing survey revealed that that 66% of you fly anglers tie your own flies – you’re clearly a resourceful bunch!

When the weather is miserable, practising the art of fly tying is often preferable to actually fishing. Blogger Bob Walker agrees, after a recent bout of gloomy weather he: “retreated to my man-cave, fired up the heater, got some Planet Rock on the go and decided to tie a pike fly.” A wise man indeed!

We’ve scoured the net for the best additions to your fly fishing gear. So without further ado here are six new snazzy flies to add to your collection. Now just to make some room for them…

1. Organza Traffic Lights Diawl Bach

Learn how to tie this organza based Diawl Bach and land yourself more trout. The video is made by Davie McPhail, a well-known fly tyer and designer who also contributes to UK fly fishing magazines. Swing by his YouTube channel; he uploads new fly tying videos every few weeks.

2. Big flashy pike streamer Mcfluffchucker

Sometimes in life you just want to make a massive fly, just for the hell of it.” It’s a sentiment we’re sure many fly anglers can identify with! The video shows blogger Dave Mcfluffchucker making “something big and sparkly that will annoy the fish.” While this flashy great streamer is fun to tie, the main purpose of course, is it will help you catch more pike. We call that a win win.

3. The Northern spider flexi floss worm

After something a bit unconventional? Try out this multi-legged spider flexi floss worm with Level 2 Angling Coach Terry Phillips. Use in stillwaters for the best results; rainbow trout go mad for it thanks to the very realistic wobbly legs fished under a bung. Terry lists the materials in this fly at the end of the video; are you up to the flexi floss worm challenge?

4. Teal blue and silver palmer chenille lure

Scott Wilson sounds every bit the hardened Scottish fisherman, but watch as he whips up this lure with all the agile grace of a jeweller making filigree. The result is a stunning teal blue and silver lure, which looks almost too precious to use. Almost, but not quite!

Do you tie the best flies?

5. Black and orange sea trout fly

Want to catch more sea trout fly? This Black and orange fly should do the trick! This one has gained a reputation for success in Wales, but the man behind the video, David Cammiss says it’ll work wherever you are. With over sixty years of fly tying experience, David Cammiss is a man worth paying attention to. Visit his YouTube channel for a huge range of different fly tying videos.

6. Green Pearl Head Nymph

Gareth Wilson says the The Green Pearl Head Nymph is the most successful fly he has tied from Bob Church’s ‘Guide to New Fly Patterns’ – high praise indeed! You only need a small tail for this nymph; Gareth uses a pinching technique to remove the excess and make sure the tail is around the same size as the body. They key to making this nymph lifelike is to dub the body with dark olive seal fur very loosely for a very realistic effect.

Start tying!

So there you have it – six new fly ties to learn and experiment with. Which one will you be trying first? Check out our fly tying kits to get you started and remember to share your efforts on our Facebook page!

Pike Safety – Richard Handel

A very nice 21lb 10oz river pike.

A very nice 21lb 10 oz river pike.

There has been an awful lot written about Carp safety. However, Pike are a much more delicate species. And with the lack of big Pike in this country, I feel there should be a greater deal of emphasis put on this. I personally use the same equipment for Carp fishing as I do for Pike and have found that a modern style mat like the TF Gear hardcore pack-away which is very light and easy to carry, is just perfect for this job.

The TF Gear pack away matt can go from this to this in a matter of seconds!

The TF Gear pack away mat can go from this to this in a matter of seconds!

I am also a firm believer in the correct style weigh slings/fish retainer should also be used along with a decent mat.

Now depending on your swim (and your safety), once I have unhooked the Pike, I will also place the Pike in a retainer sling and put this in the river/lake. On a river, please be mindful of the direction of the current and the Pike’s head should always face the flow, with the retaining sling, I add a clip on the other end to ensure you never loose your fish in the sling.

Add a clip to your retainer sling.

Add a clip to your retainer sling.

With this you can clip the cord to and then attach using a bank stick, thus holding the fish out of the current and close to the bank for a few minutes. Do this is while you set up your photography equipment.

I use a compact Panasonic lumix DT70 camera.
This has a function of time laps shots, I set at 1 every 10 seconds until it’s done 100. I set the tripod up in front of the mat all ready and press start. Then there is no worries about holding a remote, it’s all done in your own time and the safety of the Pike. Once complete, you can safely return the Pike using the retainer sling and the fish can fully recover and move off when ready.

When unhooking pike I carry a very comprehensive array of stuff as you can see below.

An essential array of pike unhooking gear.

An essential array of pike unhooking gear.

Forceps, pliers and cutters are all essentials! I am not a fan of gloves as you can’t feel the fish very well when putting your hand in their gills and could easily damage them without knowing. If you use your hands, you are more careful in handling them and less likely to cause any damage to the fishes vital; layer of protective slime.

A well cared for pike about to go back and get even bigger!

A well cared for pike about to go back and get even bigger!

Last but very important, strike quickly – gone are the days of leave it for a minute just to be sure – we can ill afford to have deep hooked Pike, as this is a big cause of Pike death’s.

With a bit more attention to quality pike care hopefully, we may one day start to see a good head of decent 30lb plus river pike building up again around the country.

Hope this is helpful.
Till next time, Richard.