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Fly fishing for pike – how to begin!

Fly fishing for predatory fish is very popular, especially fishing for pike with a fly rod. The first question that can be asked here is why? There are many reasons, we’ll just name a few here: The contact when fly fishing is more direct than in any other type of fishing, after all you hold the line directly in your hand. The brute feeling while a fish beyond the meter mark takes the fly? Indescribable!

One hears again and again that you can only catch small pike with the fly rod, but we would like to disagree here: Especially in heavily fished waters you can experience real magic moments with the fly rod, because the movement pattern of a streamer is usually perfect for the big pike because it can be something new and they often take the fly without any caution. Another argument why you should definitely fish for pike with a fly rod is availability. While trout anglers often have to drive hundreds of kilometers, you can find an acceptable stock of pike in almost every body of water. Waters around the corner mean a lot more fishing time, and more fishing time is always good!
In summary, fly-fishing for pike means pure fun and adrenaline, plus the chance to catch big fish, all right on your doorstep! What more do you want?!

Big pike caught on the fly.

The equipment – ​​the right fly rod

If you want to start fly fishing for pike, the question of the equipment always arises. Unfortunately, there is no generally valid answer here, because it always depends on the fishing situation, but above all the fly size is what you should start with. If you live in Northern Germany, the Bodden waters around Rügen are not far. There, pike fishing takes place with rather small flies, roughly around 10-15cm, the same applies to the polders in the Netherlands or smaller ditches and canals all around Europe. A #8 class rod capable of casting a head weight of around 20g is optimal here. Larger flies require a higher line weight in order to be able to cast them and therefore a class 9 rod is suitable beyond 15cm. If you are fishing from a boat in open water with really large streamers, i.e. well over 20cm, a #10 rod is the method of choice. If you come from “classic fly fishing with a dry fly” you might think it’s like shooting at sparrows with a cannon, but even a 80 cm pike still delivers a real fight on the #10 and we’re a long way from the broomsticks that are used while spin fishing. So don’t shy away from a #10 rod if the fly size requires it, it doesn’t limit the fun of fishing in any way. And quite honestly, the contrast to other light fly fishing can also make the attraction here.

The equipment – ​​the right fly line

The right fly line is absolutely crucial. We generally recommend a weight between 20 and 25g, depending on the fly size and the rod used. As already mentioned, the larger the streamer, the heavier the fly line should be. In principle, you can of course also use less than 20gr, but then you should use very sparingly tied and light streamers. The head length is a matter of taste, we use heads of about 8.5m to 10.5m. While we like to use shooting heads when fishing for sea trout, we prefer integrated/full lines when fishing for pike because, in our experience, large streamers are simply easier to control with them.

Fishing with a #10 from a boat.

Which sink rate is the right one?

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer here either, it simply depends on the depth at which you want or need to fish for the pike and at what speed. Roughly speaking, a float or intermediate is suitable up to a depth of 1.5 m, a sink3 up to 3.5 m and a sink7 is often ideal for depths of more than 4 m. The brand is also an absolute matter of taste, but after a lot of testing Airflo convinced us. The leader is then tied to the fly line, the easiest way to do this is with a loop to loop. We fish about 1.5m – 80cm (the faster the line sinks, the shorter the leader should be in order to have the best possible contact with the streamer) .50 monofilament/fluorocarbon. The bite-proof 30-50cm long leader is then tied to this, either titanium, weldable steel or very thick fluorocarbon (from 1mm) can be used here. (Caution: There are many different opinions about FC as a bite-resistant leader, and we are still testing whether this is “pike-proof”.) We have been using so-called “Fastach-Clips” for some time as attachments, which enable the streamer to be changed quickly and the material hardly fatigues, in contrast to conventional snaps.

Big pike caught from a float tube.

The equipment – the right fly reel

When fly fishing for pike, the reel plays a very minor role and is primarily used to store the line. You just have to make sure that they have enough capacity, because a size 9 float line, for example, can have a very large diameter and accordingly requires a lot of space on the reel. Of course you shouldn’t buy anything that falls apart the first time you fish it, but the entry-level models from well-known manufacturers tend to do their job.

The equipment – ​​the right streamers

Which streamers should you start with? This is a question that we are often asked and unfortunately cannot answer explicitly because we usually do not know your waters. Which streamer works best is mostly dependent on the water and also depends on the type of fishing.
Streamers differ mainly in three aspects: size, running behavior and color. Have you already caught well with jerk bait in your waters? Then streamers with a flat profile are ideal, such as the articulated jerk, the Ahrex swimbait streamer or the dubbing streamer. This profile is reinforced by the eyes that are glued on, and with the appropriate guidance, a jerk-like run can be created. The pikes in your waters react well to a monotonous run? Try the blind pushers, for example, i.e. streamers that have a rather rounded profile. These do not convince with a lot of action, but send out pressure waves to which the pike sometimes react very well. Which color is particularly good? Again, we have to point out your own waters, because a color that works very well in lake 1, for example, may not bring any reaction in lake 2. So bring your own water experience with you or do a little testing. We ourselves like to fish with black, gold and the roach design, but stimulus colors such as chartreuse or redhead should not be missing, because these often work on difficult days.

The right streamer size depends mainly on the type of fishing. What do we mean? If you fish on classic pike hotspots such as underwater edges, plateaux or vegetation, medium-sized pike streamers, i.e. around 15-19cm, are more suitable. This is also where most of the action takes place, as you can usually catch several pike a day. For some time now we have also been enjoying fishing with the fly rod in open water. There you can hardly fish streamers that are too big, even 50 pikes attack 25cm streamers there. We like to use large streamers that are easy to cast despite their size, such as Gandaalf, American or the largest version of the baitfish streamer. Those who tie themselves should try big bucktail streamers!


The equipment – accessories

In principle, pike fishing hardly requires any special equipment. However, there is one thing that we must more than suggest to every pike angler: The right pliers! When fly fishing for pike, the streamer, no matter how big, is often inhaled very far. In order to be able to release the hook quickly without injuring yourself, a large pistol gripper, or other big pliers have proven itself. If you have the chance to fish from a boat, a rubberized XXL net is often helpful, because on the one hand you can land large pike faster, on the other hand they can “swim” in the net while you unhook them and, if necessary, measure or photograph it. Furthermore, a hook grinder is useful, because if you fish shallow, you can always hit the bottom, which means that even quality hooks become blunt.

Fly Fishing for Pike – Where to Start?

In principle, fly fishing for pike hardly differs from classic pike fishing, so it works particularly well in May, for example, to fish shallow areas, while in autumn it is more about fishing where the pike food collects. The only “disadvantage” of fishing with a fly rod is that you need more back space than with spin fishing. So if you have the opportunity to fish from a boat, kayak or belly boat, you should definitely do so, because this gives you maximum flexibility. But as a shore angler, you can also fish for pike with a fly, for example the Dutch polders, smaller ditches or canals or the Bodden waters around Rügen are ideal. But your own home waters can also be easily fished with the help of waders, for example.

Bodden-Pike, caught while wading.

In the end, however, all spin fishing experience can be transferred to fly fishing, edges, plateaus, weed fields, but also the open water can be attractive pike hotspots. But here too, your own experience is the most important thing! While flat edges at 2-3m reliably bring in big pike in one water, this may not work at all in another water.

Fly fishing for pike – summary

In this article we have tried to answer many of the questions that arise when trying to start fly fishing for pike. We can only recommend this type of fishing to everyone, because spectacular bites are pre-programmed and the fun is huge. However, own experience is essential here, so go to the water and test as much as possible! The reward will be yours at some point! If you have any further or specific questions, please feel free to contact us and we will try to help you. On that note, tight lines and have fun fly fishing for pike!