Fishing for Pike doesn’t normally turn my crank. On a recent trip, I tried fly fishing for Northern Pike. My opinion has changed largely because any fish on a fly rod is a lot of fun. Even a big slimy toothy ugly Northern Pike is a challenge to catch.
If you find a pike infested area and the bite is on, almost anything will catch them, as long as it’s gaudy and moving. That’s what makes fly fishing for pike a challenge. In order to keep a large spoon moving with a spin-cast rod, just reel it in. Then cast it back out and reel it in. If there are hungry pike nearby, they’ll chase it down and bite it. Often, if you stop the retrieve, they’ll turn away. With fly fishing, it’s a different game with casting heavy flies called streamers used to imitate bait fish or other prey. Some fly fishers (myself included) will use a mouse pattern and cast it into the reeds then yank it through. The big Northern Pike lurking in the reed think it’s a rodent that has fallen in and attack with a fury. Pike have been reported to strike their prey, or your lure, at speeds up to 30 mph. With a mouse pattern floating on the surface, the ambush is swift and vicious. You’ll definitely know when something has struck your fly.
With the speed of Pike being much faster than you can possibly strip in your line, you may as well strip quickly to attract a strike. Pike will attack if the food looks at all edible so make your streamer swim quickly with a fast stripping action.
Once on the line, you can’t hog the fish in like you would with a spinning reel or bait cast reel. You need to remember you are using a lighter tackle and different equipment. When possible, play the fish from the reel. If it wants to run, let it run. There are few sounds like the zzzzzziiiiiinnnnnng of a fly reel with a strong fish pulling at it to get your heart pounding!
Maybe the most important piece of tackle is a steel leader. Not the same steel leader as your casting line but a fly line pike leader to fend off the sharp teeth. If you try to use normal leader and tippet combination, say goodbye to your streamer and your Pike. Shock leaders, as they are normally called, are made for casting streamers with a fly rod. Another important important tackle tip is to use a heavier weight fly rod. If you normally use a 5 or 6 weight for trout, step up to an 8 weight for pike. You’ll cast the heavy streamers easier and the extra strength in the rod will help with the bigger fish.
If you’re in for an adventure, try fly fishing for Pike from a belly or float tube. Unlike trout fishing from a belly boat, pike are much large. Your net might not be big enough if you hook into a 36″ plus pike” Laying a big fish across the bow of your belly boat gives you a real indication of how much bigger a pike can be than a trout. Not only the length of the fish but the power that goes with the larger size. It’s a real thrill when you actually get towed in a belly boat by a pike or when the fish you have hooked turns you 360 degrees.