Fly fishing for pike is becoming increasingly popular. Fly fishing for pike provides opportunities to catch large wild fish on a fly rod and is exhilarating fly fishing. Most anglers who start to fly fish for pike come from a trout fishing background and although the casting is similar your flies, tackle and leader setup are likely to be different.
When & Where
Pike can be present in Rivers, Lakes & Canals throughout the UK. Firstly you need to find a venue that contains pike where you can obtain permission to fish. It is also important to ask permission to fly fish at the venue. Whilst day ticket fisheries will be used to people spinning and bait fishing for pike they may not be used to people fly fishing for pike. Sometimes venues will not allow it due to waterside paths where the public can be in danger of being hit by flies on your back cast.
I’m afraid if you are coming from a trout fishing background then new tackle may be required, especially if you are going to be casting big pike flies on reservoirs and lakes. You may get away with casting smaller pike flies on canals with your 8 weight reservoir gear.
Most serious pike fly anglers use a 9 or a 10 weight rod. This generates enough line speed to cast your large pike fly and wire trace.
A reel capable of holding a 9 or 10 weight fly line plus backing line is required. A good reliable drag for fighting those big predators is also a must.
Here’s where you want to really get it right. Go for a short taper type line similar in profile to a shooting head fly line. Saltwater fly lines designed to turn over big flies will also work well. A standard weight forward line will not really generate the line speed you need to cast big pike flies.
Use tuff fluorocarbon for the leader with a length of wire trace tied on the end. There are many different wire traces available and anglers have their own preference as to what they enjoy using.
Use a leader of between 3 foot and 5 feet depending on how well you are turning over your fly. The shorter the leader, the easier it will be to cast however the longer the leader the less likely to spook the fish
You will also need an unhooking mat, a large landing net suitable for pike and some long nose pliers to remove hooks.
What pike flies do I need?
You need a selection of natural pike fly patterns that imitate baitfish such as roach & perch as well as some bright loud patterns.
When the water is clear and the pike are feeding more aggressively I like to use natural pike fly patterns. When the water is colder or coloured I often opt for the brighter attractor pike fly patterns.
We have a brilliant selection of pike flies. Here are my personal favourites:
Pike are often ambush predators, they like to sit still and wait for prey fish to come into range before attacking. You should pay particular attention to weed beds, snags and underwater features and drop offs. These are locations where pike will be able to hide to ambush their prey.
Pike can be caught near the bottom, midwater in and around snags or weed beds and off the surface. A selection of pike flies to cover these likely scenarios will suffice. Much of the battle with pike fishing is actually finding the fish. Spend your time learning about the water and it’s features. Try and gain the advice of other experienced pike anglers or the fishery bailiff as to where the pike frequent.
Double haul casting
To cast big pike flies you will need to learn to double haul. Book a lesson with a good fly fishing coach (www.peaksflyfishing.com) or spend some time watching videos online and practice. Double haul casting is essential to be able to cast big heavy pike flies, especially if you are also battling the wind.
Just like fly fishing for trout, the speed of your pike fly retrieve will dictate the depth at which you fly fishes. As with the trout, the colder the water the more docile the pike will be, this means that slow deep retrieves may be needed through the winter months but as the pike become more active you can speed up your fishing as they will chase and attack your fly.
Handling & returning pike
Despite being aggressive predators, pike are very delicate and need to be handled with care. First time round it’s best going fly fishing for pike with an experienced angler who can help and show you how to handle the pike. I highly recommend that you crush down the barbs on your pike flies to make unhooking quick and easy.
Here’s a useful video I found on you tube:
Match The Hatch! - our weekly hatch report will help.