When it comes to fly fishing for pike, we hear from many anglers who struggle with the key elements of catching pike. So we asked Fulling Mill Ambassador and piking expert, Dougie Loughridge to put together his 6 Top Pike Fly Fishing Tips to help you put more fish on the bank this Winter.
- Safety First
OK, so this is a general tip and not specifically Pike fishing related so to speak, but it should still be high on your list of priorities! If you are venturing out on a boat or float-tube, please, wear a life jacket. Not only will it (more than likely) be in the Fishery rules but you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to stay safe. Always let someone know where you’re going and what time to expect you back. Wear appropriate fishing clothing for the conditions. Think about keeping a small packable First Aid kit in your luggage – Pike teeth are sharp and you WILL get a little raker rash at some point!
- Find the Prey
In most cases, if you find the prey you will find the predator. A lot of the time this will depend on the stage of the season we’re in, but always look out for clues, such activity from fish-eating birds. A fish finder will also help you locate shoals of prey fish – when you find these either mark the location on your finder or drop down a marker float then set up your drift to cover the area around the float. The prey fish will differ from venue to venue but it’s worth having a few predator flies in your box which imitates the Pikes main food source.
- Fly choice
As a rule of thumb I usually always start off with a Flashtail Whistler or Sparkler on my trace, irrespective of water conditions – it’s just such a deadly fly. That said, from time to time on pressured waters you may find Pike following a flashy fly but not committing. When this happens it’s time to try something a little more imitative, such as a Perch or Roach pattern, this can often lead to a more positive response from the Pike. Also, the addition of a Wiggle Tail has proven deadly on many pike venues I’ve recently visited, these things are definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to try something different! Or alternatively, purchase a selection of Wiggle Tail pike flies from Fulling Mill.
- Tackle fit for purpose
Arm yourself with a 9’ rod in either a #9 or #10 weight. Saltwater rods will do but Pike specific rods with a deeper action are my favourite for casting big flies. These powerful rods will also enable you to play the fish hard and get them in quickly for a safe release. “It fought for 20 minutes” = dead Pike. Reels don’t need to be fancy with expensive drag mechanisms as long as they have a decent capacity to hold a #9 or #10 Pike fly line plus 50m of 30lb backing. Strong, short leaders of 4-5’ of 20-30lb mono or fluorocarbon are recommended attached to at least 12” of your chosen wire trace. I like 20” of 49 strand knottable wire as it negates the need for swivels or clips which add unwanted weight to the leader. Probably the most important of all the 6 Top Pike Fly Fishing Tips.
- Are you using the right fly line?
Investing in a purpose made Pike/Bigfly fly line is highly recommended. These have the right taper make up to make casting big flies much less of a chore. An intermediate is probably the line I use most but there are other times where a floater or faster sinker will be required. A type 3 or 5 sinker is also useful if you are wanting to retrieve your flies on a deeper plane with a roly-poly retrieve – this can be deadly when the Pike are up for it.
- Use a line tray
These things are worth their weight in gold. I use mine at all time when fishing for pike on the fly. They will stop your line from getting tangled around all the stuff in your boat and reduce the risk of standing on your £60 fly line! Along with regular cleaning and dressing, a line tray will prolong the life of your line and save you money. They also help add yards to your cast by keeping the line managed and not catching on stuff. If wading from the shore with a sinking line, they will stop your line from sinking and tangling around your feet. Less time undoing tangles = more time your fly is in the water.6 Top Pike Fly Fishing Tips, 6 Top Pike Fly Fishing Tips