Spring is here, and here at Fishwest we are prepping for the upcoming pike season. With more fly anglers targeting these incredibly powerful fish, and (in my opinion) the best way to be introduced to Esox fly fishing, we have received many emails and customers coming in with questions on the proper gear they will need to catch them. So here is a rundown of the essential equipment we use when targeting Pike.
First you need the right fly rod. Typically I use single-handed rods ranging from 8 to 10-weight or 7-weight two-handed rods when targeting pike. The action of your rod may vary depending on how you are fishing. When blind casting, whether it’s from a boat or from shore, we have found a medium or medium/fast action rod works best. Pike flies can get relatively large; the slower action in a medium or medium/fast rod will allow the rod to load properly with less line and effort, thus cutting down on fatigue throughout the day. This is the same reason I have started using two-handed rods (mainly when fishing from shore), the extra length helps to keep the fly out of shrubs and brush that may be in line with your backcast and, in my opinion, produces more power and eliminates double-hauling all-day which is can quickly start to wear on you.
If you’re sight fishing for pike, a fast action rod will do the job best, this will allow you to present the fly quickly and more accurately than a medium action fly rod, plus it will help throw those large flies when the wind picks up.
The next item to consider is your fly reel. Pike are powerful torpedo-like fish but are not known for making super long runs after hook-up, like carp or saltwater species; this doesn’t mean you want the cheapest reel on the market though. They get pretty large, so you will still want a solid drag and a reel that can hold a good amount of backing. Like I said before they are powerful, so you will want a drag strong enough to stop them and have enough backing just in-case you do hook into that monster fish, 150 yards of 20lb backing should be more than enough for these fish. When it comes to the construction of the reel I look for machined reels with a sealed or easily maintained drag system. It isn’t out of the question to hook into a 40 inch fish when targeting this species and the last thing you want is for you drag to fail or for your spool to pop off midway through the fight.
Once you have figured out your rod and reel setup, the next item to consider will be your line. First thing to consider is how you will be fishing for these guys; pike take top water flies just as much as they take streamers. For top water flies you will want a floating line of course, and for streamers you would want anything from a full intermediate line to a slow sinking line, around 1.5- 4 inches per second. We are usually targeting pike in the shallow bays, water between 18 inches to 10 feet, so heavy sinking lines are not used as often and can cause headaches in this shallow water with vegetation. A heavier sinking line may be appropriate if you are fishing in a swift moving river or throwing articulated bucktail flies that are extremely buoyant, in this case I prefer Scientific Anglers Triple Density Titan Taper with a type 5-7 sink tip.
A lot of pike flies are large and sometimes not very aero dynamic, so you will want a line that will be able to turn them over and carry them through the wind. We suggest one with an aggressive front taper, this will help turn over the large flies as well as help load your rod. An aggressive taper will also allow you to make short quick cast when sight fishing. No matter on the type of line it helps to do a little research in your area on how anglers there are catching Pike, this may help narrow down the options to find the best line for the type of fishing in your area.
Stay tuned for part two of Pike on the fly, where we’ll be talking leader setups, tools and flies. If you can’t wait for part two and need suggestions or question contact us through Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @Fishwest , give us a call @ 801.617.1225 or swing by the shop.