A basic guide to the Fly Fishing Tackle required for Pike.
So you fancy a toothy critter on fly gear then ? Tackle is fairly simple, but certain items are crucial to success and more importantly keep you and the Pike safe.
The rod should be powerful, I would certainly go no lower than a weight 8. There are two reasons for this, firstly the flies that are needed to lure Pike are big ( 3 - 6 inches ! ), and secondly if you hook a large Pike it will lead a very merry dance indeed. With my Thomas and Thomas Horizon bent double it has still taken me 10 minutes or more to beat a double figure fish so anything lighter and there is the risk of causing the fish unnecessary stress through a prolonged fight.
Reels should be capable of holding a good length of backing, 100yds minimum and lines from 8 - 10. A disc drag is not a must but extremely helpful when trying to control an angry Esox. Large Arbour models are ever popular, but I think this is purely down to personal preference.
Lines. Now this is very important ! By far and away my top density has been the intermediate. I use a Rio Aqualux as my fast intermediate and a Stillwater Mastery by Scientific Anglers, which is still quick, but slower than the Rio. The second choice line is a Floater and finally some kind of Fast Sinker. There are various specialist tapers now available on the market which will aid turnover of big flies, but personally I have used standard Weight Forwards for all of my Pike Fishing and have found that they perform very well. You can use full lines or if you find distance a problem, go for shooting heads. These are in actual fact very convenient as they remove the need for spare spools and provide a very quick system of depth control.
Now for the interesting bit, terminal tackle ! Even a Jack Pike of a couple of pounds has a formidable set of teeth. and I really do pity the fish which have to dodge these lethal weapons each day of their lives ! Straight mono leaders are a waste of time and while I have seen it written and heard of people using mono to get more takes and hook ups I can see no point in this whatsoever, when your hungry fish bites straight through the leader as if it were butter. I have even tried 30lb Hard Mason, a very tough saltwater nylon only to have it returned to me minus the fly which took half my fly tying box of materials to create! The standard set up I would recommend is 6 - 8 ft of good quality mono in 20 -30lb, looped to the fly line and then using an Albright Knot splice in at least 1 1/2 ft of 20lb twisted steel strand wire. This allows for fly changes and takes where the fly is engulfed. It is not uncommon to remove the fly from well inside a Pikes mouth and this means that the teeth have clamped down on the trace. To attach your chosen pattern thread on a couple of crimps, pass the wire through the eye of the fly and secure 1/4 inch up from this point by closing the crimps with pliers. This allows the fly to swing loose and aids movement once in the water.
Flies ! A selection should include plenty of large streamers. This is one game where it can be said that often " the bigger the fly, the bigger the Pike ! ", that said it doesn't stop the little ones having a go ! Black is a top colour providing a very strong silhouette, along with White and Chartreuse. One of the finest flies I have come across is nothing more than a couple of grizzle saddle hackles, a thick tail of crystal hair and a body consisting of stacked marabou. These are easy to tie but also available through Turrall ( 01805 804352 ) at a very reasonable rate. Poppers are also very useful and can consist of either spun and clipped deer hair or a block of plaztazote. One of my favourite flies, the ' Edgewater Wiggler '. uses shaped foam to provide a girgling, popping motion which any self respecting Pike finds hard to resist. In conclusion any big, hairy, shiny, fishy looking pattern will gain the attention of Pike !
The net should be strong, with plenty of room to fit a large Pike without risk of damage to scales etc., in short while the fish is within the folds of the net it should lie straight not be bent double ! Next you need an unhooking mat, something I have only recently aquired and an absolute must. To sort the hook out a pair of foot long predator forceps are required which ensures easy removal of the hook without risking serious injury if a Pike decides to snap its jaws closed. Many people also use some kind of glove, often the heavy duty garden variety, for extra protection.
So along with the normal line snips, flask of coffee and sandwiches you are now ready to go after your first Pike on Fly. Let us go fishing ! Click Here for Pike Article 2
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Stuart Cowley (Essex) - Guided Salmon Sept 2014