The more I fly fish, the more I love big pike. They are such an impressive looking fish. They are also very eager to take fly fishing presentations. In fact, one of my good fishing buddies has been keeping track of hookups with big pike for about 10-years. He’s found that fly fishing accounts for more hookups than regular gear. Sometimes on a 2-1 ratio. And contrary to what most people think, a properly equipped fly angler can boat even the biggest pike in short order. The trick is having the right gear. Just like Tyler’s well thought out message on outdoor clothing, the right fly gear will make your pike outing that much sweeter.
Here’s the goods:
First take your budget for fly gear and allocate about 50% towards the rod. This is the tool that makes most of the difference in casting large pike streamers and handling big fish. Look for a rod that comes with a substantial guarantee. Expect to pay anywhere from $250 – $700 for a good rod with a lifetime guarantee. (Let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t pay that much coin for a rod that didn’t have a lifetime guarantee!) The reason for the price is that top quality graphite makes a huge difference in a skilled fly casters hand when it comes to casting long distances and handling big fish. Choose a rod in the 8- to 10-weight category. I use a 10-weight and even a 12 for really big pike and musky. These heavy rods are also suitable for saltwater applications, so the rod is good for tarpon, snook and small sharks.
Speaking of sharks, pike have teeth that are just as formidable. So you definitely need a bite leader. I have used common 12-inch wire leaders and they work fairly well. But the heavy swivels and snaps make casting more difficult. There are a number of good tie-able, braided-wire leaders out there. I use up to 40-pound test for my pike leaders. Have that bite leader connected to the fly line with a three-foot length of 30- or 40-pound monofilament like Maxima and your set. You just need a good-sized pike streamer. Something 6-inches long or so with added flash and something resembling eyes. Pike target the heads on baitfish so eyes help them zero in. My favorite colors are black, yellow, orange, and of course red and white. Some of my streamers have weed guards on the hooks and some have stinger hooks for those days when the pike are hitting short. Make sure you have a jaw-spreader and long-shank pliers for removing the hook. You want to return from your fishing trip with all of your digits.
At present my biggest northern pike is 46-inches. I’ve caught big pike right from the Northwest Territories to Northern Saskatchewan and Eastern Quebec. But Northern Ontario doesn’t take a back seat to anyone and I hope to take a 50-incher soon. My goal is certainly possible in both the Albany and Ogoki systems so I’m hoping 2013 is my year. If you’re also interested in gunning for big pike drop me a note and I’ll point you in the right direction. Some of the biggest pike I’ve seen are lurking in Wilderness North waters.