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MikeL

Pike on the fly

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I have 20+ years of flyfishing experience but have never flyfished for Pike. I am wondering if anyone has some suggestions. Should I use an 8 weight rod with sink tip, sinking or floating line? What kind of flies do they hit? I am assuming that I will need some type of wire tippet. I have a pontoon boat and live in Calgary. Any small lakes near Calgary to check out? What depth of water should I fish at this time of year? Thanks.

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Others can chime in but a 7 to 10 weight is great depending on what size flies you use, the wind, and weed conditions and the body of water. I've used my double handed Spey & switch rods. The majority of flies used for pike are large and on average between 4-9” in length which requires a powerful leader to turn over the flies properly. I've also had a ton of fun using big poppers and gurglers on the surface. In addition, pike have very sharp teeth and are notorious for biting off even heavy mono tippets and a wire tippet is needed. Most shops sell wire or saltwater leaders or you can make up your own. I often use standard swivel snaps to aid in changing big flies. Keep your leaders shorter. This time of year the big girls come out to play in the shallows. 

Bow River, Dalemead Lake, Chestmere lake, Eagle Lake, Pine Coulee , Mcgreger, Badger Travers Glennifer (Dickson), Sylvan, Pine Lake, I could go on and on.  Dozens of other small ponds hold pike. Don't discredit and small bodies of water, some are never fished. Have fun

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Pike fishing is on fire right now.

I would recommend an 8wt rod.  I personally opt for an intermediate sink line for most pike fishing---even in water less than 1m deep.  Until mid-June, you can get away with a floating line.  Most of the pike will still be sitting in less than 3m of water.  When the water hits around 12-14C there is the potential for topwater pike action too.  On all stillwater, weighted flies are not really necessary because the angler just has to wait for the fly to sink.  If you feel you need it, a small sink tip will often help, but you still probably will not need more than 3IPS for next month or so.  I would rather use a weightless (or close to) fly and a sink tip over a weighted fly and a floating line.

I use a 3-piece leader system.  5' 40# fluoro leader -> 3' 25# fluoro leader -> (clasp) -> 1.5-2' NiTi wire bite tippet.  The clasp has a 20# break point, making it the weak point of the system.  You can buy a pike leader---just put a clasp on it so you do not eat through the bite tippet.

For flies---just use something 2/0 or bigger.  The humble red-n-white pike bunny is a killer pattern.  Deceivers and clousers also work.  You can use your big articulated trout flies, but be aware that a pike's teeth are designed to hold on to natural/fleshy materials (the exception being bucktail, which seems to survive longer than most materials).  So, those nice marabou flies will not see more than 10 or so pike before being completely stripped of all the nice wispy marabou.  Deer hair poppers and sliders are all great.  Big poppers work too.  Like most fly fishing, it is more how you present the fly than the actual fly itself.  So, last weekend, it was the hand-over-hand (rolly-polly) constant velocity retrieve that triggered strikes.   Do yourself a solid and debarb your hooks---you will pick a lot of flies out of their gills.  Jaw spreaders and a good set of long-handled pliers are important.  I prefer not to use jaw spreaders, but sometimes they will not open their mouths.

And remember, strip set.  A trout set does absolutely nothing to set the hook.  It is literally better to do nothing and just hang on than to lift your rod on a strike.  When you get the fish in, I actually prefer not use a net at any time.  Once in a net a pike thrashes like mad.  Grip smaller pike firmly behind the head but over the gill plates (even their gills have teeth, so watch out for that).  If you are in your pontoon, getting the gill-plate grip is important to handling the pike efficiently.

Last piece, cuts and scrapes are a natural part of pike fishing.  I highly recommend keeping a bottle of rubbing alcohol to clean any cuts when you get back to the car.  This might seem a bit paranoid, but after 2 occasions of requiring antibiotics from relatively small pike scrapes, I am a little paranoid.

Within 2 hours, there are probably dozens of places to catch pike.  Dalemead, Eagle, and Chestmere are three that are within an hour of Calgary.  Within 2 hours, there are too many options to list.  Good luck.

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I've only used a floating 7wt myself.  Different colour Clousers and a 2 inch red leech suspended under an idie have worked for me.

As for leaders, how concerned are you about loosing the odd one?  My first time out I was targeting Jacks at somebody else's suggestion and simply cut a leader back until "I thought it was stout enough".  Didn't lose any.  The last time I wasn't specifically going after them and landed my only hit on 5x tippet.  Their teeth aren't made for grinding, how much of a nick from a tooth it would take to allow one to break off, who knows?  It will happen but my limited experience is that wire tippet is not absolutely necessary.

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17 hours ago, yonderin said:

I've only used a floating 7wt myself.  Different colour Clousers and a 2 inch red leech suspended under an idie have worked for me.

As for leaders, how concerned are you about loosing the odd one?  My first time out I was targeting Jacks at somebody else's suggestion and simply cut a leader back until "I thought it was stout enough".  Didn't lose any.  The last time I wasn't specifically going after them and landed my only hit on 5x tippet.  Their teeth aren't made for grinding, how much of a nick from a tooth it would take to allow one to break off, who knows?  It will happen but my limited experience is that wire tippet is not absolutely necessary.

Consider yourself lucky.   I have landed many pike on 6# test while jigging for walleye.  I do not even know how many I have lost though---a number that is realistically in the range of dozens of jigs lost to pike teeth.  Jig heads and softbodies are cheap though.  Unless someone has full pockets of cash and/or lots of time to tie flies, some form of bite tippet is necessary.  Any size of nick to tippet compromises its strength.

When bass fishing out east, we use 13# fluoro.  We had to stop tying and fishing red/white and orange/white clousers to simply stop attracting pike.  I think our 1-day record for lost flies to pike is 13.  When a pike is chasing something, it will preferentially t-bone it then almost immediately do a u-turn.  Pike can rip through 13# test like butter.  It is possible to get away with 20# test, but it is important to re-tie the fly after every single fish.  Losing the fish is not what really hurts---it is losing the $8 fly in a situation that was 100% preventable.

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I just got home today from a fly in trip to Northern Saskatchewan for pike and lakers. My cheap/crappy pliers/wire cutters fell apart on me on the second day so I switched to running 40# fluoro for bite tippet. Worked great the rest of the day, but the next morning I lost 3 out of the first 5 pike with this setup so I switched to the pre-built wire clasp style pike leaders that you see in all the stores. This worked alright but had two come apart on me at the knot attaching the wire tippet to the leader.  Tracked down some nail clippers from a guy in our group and went back to building my own leaders in a similar but shorter style described above by Scel, except I just use a non-slip loop knot and replaced the wire tippet as I wore it down from pike bites and changing flies. This was my first trip up there focusing on using the fly rod for pike and I definitely think the extra work involved in building my own leaders with wire tippet was worth it. Didn't have any failures with that setup.

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On ‎5‎/‎29‎/‎2019 at 9:08 PM, yonderin said:

 cut a leader back until "I thought it was stout enough".  Didn't lose any.  The last time I wasn't specifically going after them and landed my only hit on 5x tippet.  Their teeth aren't made for grinding, how much of a nick from a tooth it would take to allow one to break off, who knows?  It will happen but my limited experience is that wire tippet is not absolutely necessary.

Probably the worst advice I've read on here. Don't do this. Go with a bite-proof leader. Unless you like losing fish, and leaving pike with hooks dangling in their mouth/throats.

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Pike on dryflies....stonefly. A whole new game

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Guess it shows, they'll eat anything...have had many a fine experience chugging a floating fly (i.e., bass bug) in shallow waters for pike, the bigger the wake the better, and having them come right out of the water to take it, never mind any sort of gracious slurp.

They always seem to target the front of the fly, so I'd second the thoughts above regarding a wire bite tippet.

 

 

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Caught them on damsels too. Pike fishing is all about being delicate :P

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Have seen them come out of the water to swipe at flying damsels and dragons...now if you can show one taken on a size 24 Trico, that would be something...

 

 

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