A comprehensive guide to all the indispensable "weapons" of a pike hunter for an artificial fly - the main fly fishing equipment, special big flies - pike streamers and other useful fly fishing accessories that will make your fishing more enjoyable overall!
As I mentioned marginally in the introduction to the FLY FISHING SPECIAL dedicated to Tackle & Equipment For Grayling Fishing, when fly fishing for large freshwater predatory (carp or saltwater as well) fish, we use equipment that is directly proportional to the size and fighting power of these fish! Of course, this is true, but I would like to add that the equipment intended for catching predatory freshwater fish should fully correspond to the most frequently used fishing techniques, the weight of the lines and the size of the lures that we will cast on it in order to catch predatory fish!
By that I mean that - in our conditions - we will only occasionally catch large and heavy predatory fish (for whose successful fighting, of course, heavier fly fishing equipment is a necessity), which does not mean that we therefore underestimate/lighten our equipment! In the following lines, I will try to explain to you why it is good to use heavier fly fishing equipment in general when catching predatory fish, and not only because of the expectation of trophy fish in every fish strike! 😉
In my previous article "Pike On The Fly", which focuses mainly on the right tactics and techniques of pike fishing with fly fishing tackle, you could read that there is only one main fishing technique in fly fishing for pike, which is primarily based on food habits of this wonderful freshwater predatory fish, namely streamer fishing - in other words - hunting for larger and large lures imitating the most common prey of pike and other freshwater predators! And you should also use the main features and rules of this fly fishing technique when assembling suitable fly fishing equipment designed specifically for pike fishing!
PIKE FLY ROD: For catching predatory fish in our conditions, I would generally choose a rigid fly rod with a fast action category 6 - 9 AFTMA in the length of 9 feet - 275 cm! The large range of rod categories corresponds to the size of commonly caught predatory fish from perch and chub, through perch, zander, pike and catfish. If I focus purely on a universal rod for streamer pike fishing, I would definitely remove the category 6/7 from the list and I would start at 7 - 8wt to 8 - 9wt. In anticipation of really large specimens and when fishing with large or heavy streamers and lines, even 9 - 10wt.
The most common task of such a rod will not be to fight trophy pike one after another, but to cast away large (strong air resistance especially in autumn windy weather) or heavier streamers (loaded or water-absorbent materials) in combination with heavier fly lines, or - at the moment of shot - pierce the tip of the hook with a hard pike jaw.
Try to realize all this with a rod from the category under AFTMA 7 and you will understand what I mean! You can win the fight with big pike (but with its great exhaustion) even on a 4wt rod, but you would have to cast a big streamer at it first. If you succeeded in the end, you would have to pirce it to her hard jaws, which is not very realistic with a soft fine rod. Of course, miracles and coincidences happen, but the aim of this article is to guide you on the right and effective way of fishing, not on fishing dilettantism, which is more than enough among Czech "sport fishermen"! 😉
Length is also very important for such a rod, because when using a rod longer than 9 feet, your hand will be unnecessarily large lever and if you cast large streamers on a rod category 8 - 9wt for a whole and for example a cold day 10 or more feet long, or you fight with some fish, your hand will clearly feel as uncomfortable as well as the elbows on the other hand, which has the task of regularly retrieving the large streamer! Your hands will simply be very exhausted!
PIKE FLY REEL: A suitable reel for pike fly fishing should - as with all other fly fishing techniques - perfectly balance the fly rod - it should therefore ideally correspond to its category of size and weight - in the case of pike fly rods should be reels in sizes 8 - 12. In modern fly fishing are absolutely standard reels of the Large Arbor (LA) type - with a wide spool diameter, which reduce the shape memory of the fly line and at the same time hold it a large amount, including backing, and therefore they are a matter of course for large predatory fish they are, of course, thicker - bulkier, mostly elongated and would simply not fit in a shallow and small reel!
The fly reel designed for pike fishing should of course be reliable, ideally with a quality disc drag, which you will gently control the resistance of the reel when fighting a large fish "through the reel". Most of the time, it will traditionally serve you mainly as a "fly line tray", but the moment you have a really big fish on your rod, you definitely don't want to experience a situation where your reel will disappoint you for some reason! Therefore, definitely do not underestimate the question of a quality fly reel!
PIKE FLY LINES: Like a fly reel, fly lines should ideally match the category and action of your pike fly rod! Special pike fly lines are always weight forward (WF) with different head shapes, which has a major impact on the length and quality of the cast when casting with large pike streamers. In addition to traditional floating fly lines, which are necessary for fishing with surface streamers such as Popper, Gurgler, etc., you will of course also use intermediate and sinking lines, or their combinations - Hover with intermediate head or intermediate/sinking S1 with sinking head/tip S3 - S5, which have the main use in fishing pike in deeper water with the gradual cooling of the water in the autumn and winter months of the fishing season!
As part of the entire fly fishing line, I would not like to write the traditional cliché that when fishing for pike and other predatory fish on an artificial fly, you can easily use your stillwater fly fishing equipment, which you normally use for trout fishing on still waters. I would rather combine the basic equipment for catching predatory freshwater fish with the method of summer fishing of large carp on a fly, in which the requirements for strength and quality of fly fishing equipment are similar!
💥 For this reason, we have prepared for you a universal Fly Fishing Set - Predators & Carp, which is - given that it contains everything important from the basic fly fishing equipment - absolutely great for fly fishing for nice pike and other predatory fish, of course!
IMPORTANT ACCESSORIES: Here I have classically selected very practical, useful and in some cases, of course, the necessary accessories for the main equipment, which will make the hunt more pleasant when fly fishing for pike, but will also help you to make beautiful catches!
◼ Steel wire or kevlar leader - Absolutely necessary additional equipment for every pike-hunter with sanity and wants to effectively catch predatory fish without the risk of biting the lure, which can lead mainly to damage to the lost fish! So take wire or kevlar leader mainly as protection for pike, not your expensive or laboriously tied streamers! Some hunters use strong fluorocarbons (min. 0.60 mm in diameter) instead of these rigs, in my opinion - the pike does not solve the steel wire in front of the streamer too much, so there is no need to forcibly approach "invisibility" with all sorts of attempts they can carry to bite the streamer!
◼ Strong tippet material - Personally, I use a 70 - 90 cm long fluorocarbon tippet of higher diameter (0.28 - 0.35 mm) to connect the fly line together with a steel wire. There is no need to buy a 100 m spool, for example a 25 m will suffice. If you don't want to invest in fluorocarbon, of course a standard nylon line will suffice, such as Stroft GTM - because of the rigidity, greater load capacity and especially because I no longer use other lines, but I prefer to follow FC. Don't really make the whole rig too long, together with the pike wire and the big streamer it will be very difficult for you to cast a long leader!
◼ Long forceps - An excellent helper in rescuing your streamer from the deep and sharp teeth studded pike throat! If you want to continue fishing after the first pike caught and not stop the bleeding from the numerous and unpleasantly painful sores of the pike teeth on your hands, you should buy an extended forceps or practical tongs, which you can also use to cut a steel rig etc.
◼ Fly line basket - An excellent accessory for both wading and shore fishing! Thanks to it, the line does not get into the water and does not sink during wading, thanks to which you can achieve longer or more controllable casts. It also protects the line from its entanglement in branches, etc. when fishing in difficult terrain, which leads to the already described positive - the possibility of better casts + trouble-free fishing, but thanks to the basket the line does not come into contact with dirt (mud, sand), which can very quickly shave off the rod blank and rod winding! In my opinion, a very practical tool for pike fly hunters!
◼ Folding telescopic landing net - Undoubtedly another mandatory necessity for pike/predatory fish hunters about whose important features and benefits you can read in my detailed article "How To Choose The Right Landing Net", where you will also find recommended specific types!
◼ Polarized glasses - They are an absolute must when fishing for predatory fish! Of course, mainly because of their ability to remove shine from the water surface (especially when "hanging" the streamer "under your feet") and also because of the protection of your eyes! Especially when casting in windy weather! At the same time, on dark cloudy days, polarizing glasses with bright lenses will serve you well, which will illuminate your hunting view! Quality polarized glasses will allow you to see the water surface, protect your eyesight or brighten a gloomy dark day!
◼ Belly Boat - An excellent larger accessory for your equipment, with which (if its use is allowed in the fishing area) you can comfortably get to otherwise inaccessible places! You can read more about all the undeniable advantages of this special fishing vessel and the hunt from it in my earlier article "Fly Fishing From A Belly-Boat".
ARTIFICIAL FLIES FOR PIKE: Special flies for catching these beautiful freshwater fish predators are the so-called pike streamers - Predator streamers, whose main task is to provoke/cause pike to strike! They should therefore be large enough - to be potentially plentiful for pike, attractive in color and appearance - either to imitate the natural pike food in a given locality, or to irritate them with fantastic colors, sounds, vibrations, etc. A common feature of effective pike streamers are big eyes. which, in general, predators throughout the animal kingdom like to attack - fish predators will certainly not be different. From our point of view, such a streamer should move naturally in the water - imitating an injured fish, or, conversely, provoked with irresistible movements, should be durable, structurally functional - we should not repair it after each throw (rolling the material over the hook arm) and most importantly it should excel in a high-quality and sharp hook that penetrates the hard jaws of the pike and at the same time lasts in it!
👉 I would therefore divide pike streamers into 4 basic groups describing their main features and specifics, namely:
(There is a mutual combination of individual groups and specific types, which leads to the gradual development of these streamers, their innovations & modifications, the complex characteristics of which a separate article wouldn't be enough!)
SURFACE STREAMERS: As I have already written, a group of these streamers are fished mainly in the summer months with the help of floating or hover lines on the surface or slightly below it, where they provoke pike with loud pressure waves for an aggressive attack. Such streamers are, of course, tied from floating materials - formerly mainly from deer and elk fur, which was subsequently shaped into specific shapes that improved the effects described above, today mainly foam materials or finished products (variously shaped popper heads, etc.) are used. This group of streamers includes mainly Poppers, Gurglers, Divers, Hair and Skipping Bugs, etc., which imitate both wounded fish floating underwater, and mice and frogs that swim on the water surface, or they are just fantastic large and noisy streamers , which pike attack only because of hunting instinct! Due to the use of these streamers even in heavily overgrown places, their typical feature is the lower protection of the hook tip with a thick fishing line or wire, which prevents getting stuck and picking up surface grasses and dirt!
BAIT FISH STREAMERS: With imitations of small fish, it is possible to fish with all kinds of pike fly lines, and therefore in any depths of the water column where pike is expected! Their main feature is that they should faithfully imitate pike prey - small fish (for example, from 10 to 30 cm in size), specifically mainly roach, perch, but also smaller bream and pike or even small trout, etc. However, it is the question of whether the predator sees natural prey in such a streamer at all... We will probably never know - we can only argue about it indefinitely. Personally, I don't think so, and I'm of the opinion that even if we want to imitate some of the above-mentioned fish species with our streamer, it will always look different for pike in the water - compared to its natural prey! Either way, pike in such a bait don't necessarily see what we see in it or we want to see - just eat it! 😉
FANTASTIC STREAMERS: After describing the previous category, then - in the case of this group of streamers - it could be written that it includes absolutely everything we cast into the water when pike fishing! 😅 Wrong, in the case of fantastic streamers, we do not think that we are imitating a specific animal - pike prey! For fantastic streamers, we mainly play on pike aggression and a strong hunting instinct, which we support with size, colors, vibrations, etc. = everything possible for pike more attractive than the natural food can offer at the moment! A very popular color combination for such streamers is the traditional red-white RH, yellow-orange, black-purple, it also includes large gold, silver and blue sparklers, striped patterns of the Fire Tiger type and other similar variations of large streamers, which are mainly based on effective pike spinning lures (wobblers, rubber rippers and twisters).
TUBE STREAMERS: This type of streamers is nowadays more and more popular when fishing for pike (and of course other fish species - not only salmon) - mainly in combination with the development of various types of special trace rigs, which offers for example large and long tube flies together with an additional hook - stinger, or with today's very popular thin rubber Wiggle Tails, which are produced in various colors, sizes and shapes, which increase the attractiveness of a large pike streamer. The great advantage of tube streamers is their unlimited size, variety of shapes, mobility - multi-part, the possibility of quick exchange and zero lever when fighting -> the stuck short hook remains in the fish mouth, while the tube fly goes up the rig and does not get confused! In the case of pike tubes, it could be said that in terms of their most common concept, it is a combination of fantastic streamers with bait fish ones streamers.
However, if you still do not orient yourself too much in the special streamers intended for pike fishing, or you don't tie your own patterns and you don't want to choose from an extensive offer of individual flies, I have prepared a unique collection of pike streamers for you, with which you definitely score points:
⭐ Be sure to read another related article from my FLY FISHING SPECIAL, which this time I dedicated to another of my favorite fly fishing disciplines, especially in the autumn and winter months, namely pike fly fishing! Combine your personal experience with hunting these breathtaking fish predators together with the information from these articles and become a specialist in pike fishing with fly fishing gear! 🎣
➡ PIKE ON THE FLY