Pike Fly Fishing Tackle

I haven’t been at the pike fly fishing game long at all but the experience of casting very large, bulky flies and hooking into pike lets you in on the secrets pretty quickly.

At first I thought I would be able to happily use my #6 weight rods, a Sage TCX, which as you probably know is a very stiff, powerful rod. I thought it would cope with pike no problem… wrong. Well, not entirely wrong, it is fine for small jacks and casting smaller flies but that is where the biggest limitation comes in – the flies themselves. I can upline it, stick an #8 weight line on it, even a #9 weight line and it works but it really slows down the recovery speed of the rod and makes casting size 4/0 bunny patterns a bit of a pain. But hey, if you only have a #6 weight and you’re only going to cast small flies for small jacks on a local canal then by all means give it a go! You will be outgunned for bigger fish though, bear the welfare of the fish in mind at all times.

I was told by a few well respected anglers that I should be looking at an #8, #9 or #10 weight, something beefy that will handle 20lb+ fish if you come across them, which on my local waters is a distinct possibility, and will handle heavy lines to chuck big air-resistance flies. They were right. I use a 9’ #9 weight rod and it is a far better tool for the job both in handling the flies and the fish. Which rod is up to you, pick one that you have tried and get on well with, whether that is a softer or stiffer rod is your prerogative. You should also note that pike are going to give a fair bit more of a pull than your typical sized trout which is definitely part of the appeal, so take the right rod with you.

Ok, onto the fly lines – this is probably the most important bit of kit as it will make or break your setup in terms of casting. Get something with a heavy loaded front taper, you need the weight up front to turn over the large flies. If you imagine a typical trout taper as having most of the weight in the middle to rear of the head with the line tapering out thinner towards the tip for delicate presentation, we want the opposite. We want a short front taper that is heavily front weighted. Anything designed specifically for pike fishing or throwing salt water flies will probably be a good bet. A line weight to match your rod should suffice, but don’t be afraid to overline if you feel you need a bit more weight. I use a floating line or an intermediate most of the time and use both full lines and integrated shooting heads depending on circumstance, have a play around with different setups and see what you like best. The shooting head is easier to cast further but it’s not as delicate. In simple terms that is the trade-off.

Now onto the leader make up. There are some pretty cool products on the market ranging from hard mono, a very stiff monofilament, to knotable wire, to non-kink titanium wire. Again this is a personal decision and you should probably experiment. I have used hard mono and haven’t had a problem but my preferred setup was one detailed by Dougie on Fly Forums. It’s a fluorocarbon leader joined to American fishing wire single strand 40lb titanium attached to a fastach clip. I’ve had very positive experiences casting and fishing with these. No kinks at all and very strong. The clip also makes changing flies a doddle and they will never accidentally open.

The last thing to remember is take a pair of long nosed forceps with you. Pike have large mouths; even the small ones and they have an intimidating number of teeth lying in wait to shred your fingers if you get them too close. It’ll also aid you in removing the hook as fast as possible and returning the fish to the water, oh yeah… last thing – fish barbless!


Lake of Menteith

Set in the Trossachs, amidst magnificent scenery where Highland meets Lowland, the 700-acre Lake of Menteith is a well regarded rainbow and brown trout fishery in Scotland and is reputed to be the best location for fly fishing for rainbow trout and brown trout in Central Scotland.

These attributes make the Lake an outstanding venue for some of the most prestigious fishing competitions and a great day out for all anglers. Below the December on the Lake in 2010.

Facilities on offer at The Lake of Menteith

Disabled access: Yes

Tackle Hire: Yes

Toilets: Yes

Refreshments: Yes

Day passes: Yes

Phone: 01877 385664

Web: www.menteith-fisheries.co.uk

Ten Pike Fly Fishing Tips

  1. Pike love drop-offs and ambush points; study contours and structure carefully.
  2. Although pike have an awesome turn of speed and acceleration don’t automatically think that you have to retrieve at a supersonic rate to tempt them. Quite often long and slow draws are the way to go.pike (1
  3. Pike will often follow you right back to the boat or bank. Always watch closely at such times, rather than just lifting quickly and recasting.
  4. It’s hard not to, but avoid too much lift-striking when a hit is felt. Pike will often just nudge or mouth a fly without taking it properly where a lift-strike would pull it away from them. Strip striking is often better, or just keep pulling until you feel the weight.
  5. Avoid too much natural material in your pike flies as these tend to absorb a lot of water making recasting difficult – especially in the longer patterns that are, at times, essential.pike (1 (2)
  6. Incorporating some extra weight around the head of your flies gives them a deadly jigging action in the water that pike find irresistible – you can even just roll some tungsten putty around the head, rather than tying specific patterns for the job.
  7. Do fish your flies on a loop knot such as a rapala knot or use some clips as this allows the fly to work better with a nicer and exaggerated action.
  8. If a pike is missed and won’t return try drastically altering the size and colour of the fly, this can often provoke and instant reaction.pike (1 (3)
  9. Do carry long-nosed pliers (essential) and a s/steel glove should you not be confident in handling pike. Please do also treat the big-girls with care and respect, as they do more good than damage to the waters keeping the smaller jacks at bay.
  10. Normal tapered trout lines may hinge quite badly with the larger pike flies, making casting frustrating. Pike tapered lines or lines with a short but thick belly are superb as they cope with the larger flies a lot easier. I tend to use the Airflo 40+ Extreme fly lines and they cope admirably.

Steffan runs Angling-Worldwide, a company that specialises in sea-trout fishing packages, courses, and guiding in Wales, with a history of doing so stemming back for over a decade. For further information contact:

Web: www.anglingworldwide.com
Phone: 07879 898 344
Mail: Angling-Worldwide, Crosslane, Dolgran, Pencader, Carmarthenshire, SA39 9BY

Fly Fishing For Pike

Catching Pike on the fly is one of the fastest growing branches of fly-fishing. Pike are a true sport fish which fight very hard on fishing tackle. They are one of the fastest fish that swim in our freshwaters, and in the spring and summer with warm water temperatures they will tail walk and leap just as readily as a Salmon or Trout. Whilst not making long screaming runs, they will rush and pull with bulldog tenacity with an almost unbelievable strength.

For the Fly fisherman they make a great alternative to Salmon, particularly with the state of the stocks at the moment, and they provide a similar ‘big fish’ thrill. They can often be caught in conditions that would normally be hopeless for Trout, in flat calms and hot bright sunshine. Pike fly-fishing also opens up many famous Trout reservoirs to the coarse angler in search of a specimen. Gigantic Pike have actually been caught on fishing tackle, for example the 40lb 8oz record fish from Chew caught in May.

The optimum fly rods would be a 9 foot #9 or #10 weight, the heavy line rating being needed to punch out and turnover outsized flies. 9 foot proves less tiring to use all day than a longer rod due to less leverage on the arm. To cast the big flies use a slower stroke than usual with an open loop.

14lb llangorse

The rod I normally use is the Airflo Bluetooth 9’ #8/9 which I use with a floater or intermediate WF9. The lines I use on this rod are the Airflo cold saltwater ridge floater and the cold saltwater ridge intermediate. Both have a low stretch core which helps set the hooks and detect the most delicate of takes. I also use a Bluetooth XT in the 9’ #10/11 which I use with fast sinking lines such as the Airflo depth finder 300 grain, for the occasions when the Pike are in deep open water in depths of over 20 foot.

As for reels any thing that will accommodate the line with about 50 yards of backing will be fine, your normal trout reel 6/9 size will do. You need not worry about too much backing, as the Pike will not run hundreds of yards when hooked. A great reel would be the Airflo switch cassette in 7/9, which comes with extra spools and has a decent drag system.

A wire trace is essential, there are several types on the market, the most satisfactory of which I find to be the Airflo titanium predator polyleader which incorporates a titanium trace with a snap link which makes changing the fly a simple businesses. They also never kink unlike some other types meaning that they last practically forever.

Flies need to be on the large size, I generally use from 2/0 to 6/0 wide gape chemically sharpened sea hooks, with a total dressing length of perhaps 6 inches. Flies as small as 3 inches will catch Pike, but the bigger stuff tends to attract a better stamp of fish. The fly needn’t be a perfect imitation of a prey fish; a hank of crystal flash tied to hook will and has caught good Pike. Surface wake lures can also be deadly which I tie with a big lump of plaztezote for a head. The takes to surface lures are often incredible in their ferocity and is without a doubt one of the most exhilarating things in fishing anywhere. The best and most consistent colour is yellow. Please see the Airflo Predator Ex-citer range of flies on the website, these are tried and tested lures and are based on my own patterns.

12lb 8oz Llangorse

The retrieve used is not normally a fast strip as you might think but rather a slow twitchy figure of eight interspersed with long pulls and pauses. This seems to be the most effective retrieve for them. The take to subsurface flies is usually a drawing away of the line much like a Trout taking a buzzer. Set the hook by strip striking, pull the fly home into the Pikes mouth – do not lift the rod straight away or you will miss the fish. If you do miss one cast for it again as they will usually come back for another go. I remember one instance where my boat partner actually hooked and lost the same Pike twice only for it to take my fly on the third attempt! Takes to surface lures are usually an explosive affair which may cause you to strike with a ‘knee jerk’ reaction – again what you must do is allow the fish to turn down with the fly before strip striking.

When hooked you can play the Pike as hard as you want, there is more chance of loosing them if you play them lightly as they will dive into cover, also by bullying them you will insure the hook is well and truly embedded into the hard jaw. The Airflo lines with low stretch cores will help the hook setting process greatly.

A good net I would recommend would be the McLean’s Salmon weigh net, which will comfortably swallow up monster fish. Its size and shape make it ideal for use on a boat. Long nosed forceps are a must for unhooking, such as the Dr Slick Cuda 8 ½ inch pliers.

Pike Head

Pike, despite the ferocious appearance and reputation are one of the most delicate fish when taken out of the water and need to be carefully revived until their strength returns before releasing them, particularly in warm summer water. The unhooking is a much easier job with a fly compared to lures and dead baits. Fly hooked Pike go back much better than fish hooked on a treble hook and they are very rarely deeply hooked.