Back in March I published an article on Killer Flies for Pike in which I described the Go Go Ray fly pattern. I have been using this fly for a few years now and after another summer of pike fly fishing, it’s time for a few improvements to the pattern. The more I fish this fly, and another fly I created, the Iron Butterfly Minnow, the more information I can gather and put towards building a better fly.
This summer provided me a few days of stark contrast. One relatively calm day I was standing on the back of my boat casting the Iron Butterfly Minnow in the hopes of hooking a few pike.
Another boat trolled by and ask me what I was doing and if fly fishing actually caught fish. I told them fly fishing was my secret weapon, when spoons and jigs aren’t working, I pull out the fly rod. Just then, Wham!, a pike hits the fly and the rod bends. Timely proof delivered on cue. However my proof was short lived, lost the fish 10 feet from the boat. That was followed by a few more episodes of the same thing, a strike, pull, head shake, fish gone. I knew the fly pattern was good, I was getting fish to bite aggressively, but landing none. I switched to the Go Go Ray fly, one tied a few years ago that had a few battle scars.
Next hit from a pike, hooked up, netted, landed, released. Again, hooked, netted, landed. I fished for another hour, caught a few more, until the poor Go Go Ray pike fly was battered and torn apart. I retired the fly and with the sun already set, headed in for the evening.
The following weekend I was back out with one of my sons, a newly tied Go Go Ray on the fly rod. The next 5 pike strikes, back to the old pattern, a strong hit, a strong pull, a head shake, and the fish was gone. The saving grace of that evening of fishing was landing a nice walleye on the Go Go Ray.
After close inspection, I have a pretty good idea of why i have gone through streaks of losing fish and streaks of landing fish. Last summer I recall that I had a few short streaks of losing fish I felt I had well hooked. At that time, the Go Go Ray and the Iron Butterfly patterns were tied with two hooks, one facing downward, one facing upward. Still I was losing fish. So for 2020, the pike flies I tied had just one hook. Based on results, seems like a bad idea. Examining the beat up Go Go Ray fly that was my most successful fly of 2020, I noticed that although it was the two hook version which means it would have been tied in 2019. But more importantly, one of the hooks had been rotated 90 degrees, so I had a downward facing hook and a sideways facing hook. Think of a treble hook with only two hooks. My theory is that the single and double hooks were somehow laying flat in the mouth of a pike and pulling free without hooking in when the pike did the head shake.
The solution was simple for those flied with two hooks, simply grab one hook with one set up pliers and use another to rotate the other hook 90 degrees.
For flies I tied in early 2020, they flies with the highest lost fish ratio, I have taken them back to the tying vice and added a second hook, turned at 90 degrees.
One more trip out on the water this coming weekend will be the test.