How to rig a fly rod for pike. Complete guide
With pike fishing competitions like fly vs jerk, we have seen how effective this technique can be. To develop the technique even further there are so many things specially made for this fishing to be as effective as possible. Here I will go through everything about the equipment and answer every question imaginable. At least I hope so. What I sure know is that it is a great guide if you interested in starting pike fishing with fly rod or you are constantly bothered by your friend that doesn't stop asking you questions about your setup. Just send them this link.
Fast attach, coated wire, wave tails, rolly polly with sink 3. What is all this? I try to cover it all by using links to where you can find great how-to videos and texts about the different things you can do in 4 different ways to approach it, depending on how hard core you want to go into it.
Option 1: Everything prepared - Here you find the premade stuff so you can start fishing as quickly as possible Option 2: DIY Basic - Do it your self guide for how you can set things up as easy as possible Option 3: DIY Advanced - Advanced things to spice up your pike fishing Option 4: Master Level - How to rig things to be at your sharpest when you are on the water
Rod and reel
#9 it the go-to rod and reel size to look at. If I would pay more for one before the other I would look at a more expensive rod. Not to be able to cast longer or put better pressure on the fish but rather to be more comfortable casting for a long day. The rod setup is quite heavy and a quality rod is both lighter and transmits your casting stroke better. Some fly rods come with a foam handle, this is very suitable for a pike rod. #8 and #10 rods are also used for pike fishing. With a #8 rod, you can not cast as big pike flies as with a heavier rod but it can be a good start if you already have a rod in this weight class. With #10 you can cast flies that are huge and fight big fish that are standing in places where you need to fight them hard like in Tjuonajokk.
Everything prepared: Vision Pike 2.0 set
DIY Basic: Vision Big daddy 9' #9, Kalu Big daddy reel
DIY Advanced: Vision Big Mama 2.0 9' #9, XLV reel #8-9
Master Level: Vision Merisuola 9' #9, XO reel #7-8
Fly lines and leaders
When selecting a fly line it is important to look for a fly line in a weight suitable for your rod. I have been testing most combinations of Vision rod and line combinations you can come up with and can say that if you choose the #9 line it is good to go with any #9 weight rod suggested above. A general idea if you are going to select only one line is to choose a slow intermediate line if you most of the time are going to fish water less than 2 meters deep and a normal intermediate sinking line if you mostly fish 1,5-3 meter deep waters. One misunderstanding when selecting a fly line, it to only base the choice on the depth of the lake. With a heavier sinking line like a Vision big mama sink 7 line that goes down through the water column like a stone. You can fish your fly 1 meter down at high speed. Something very effective to fool a passive summer pike.
When selecting leader you should use a quite thick one for good turnover of the fly. The general idea of a leader is to have a leader that works as the weakest point in the chain, but I ask you to don't do that. Have a very strong leader that won't break if you get stuck in the bottom. Instead, pull until the hook breaks or straightens. This way you also save your fly. Important to know is that you can not do this with a weak fly line. Then the actual fly line will break before the hook gives up. Even the prepared low price setup suggested earlier comes with a very strong and quality fly line made for pike fishing. Don't buy a line that isn't made for this.
Everything prepared: Vision Pike 2.0 set includes what you need
DIY Basic: Big daddy fly line #9, ACE 15' 0,43mm (shorten the thinner part)
DIY Advanced/ Master Level: Big mama line #9, SpaceFluoro tippet 0,60mm
Here you have a video on how to rig this:
Wire and fly connection
Here is where the styles go apart on whether you decide to use a hook fly or a tube fly. If you are like me, the first thing that comes to your mind is what is the best of the two. You will do fine by just using one of the two options when fishing but there are moments when one works better than the other. In general, you can say it is easier to make a fly more hovering when tied on a tube and you can tie a more jigging fly diving with the nose first tied on a hook. As a guide, I am taught to always give a clear answer so if I need to have an opinion to this a hovering tube fly works best in cold water and a jigging hook fly works best in warmer water.
A wiggle tail or dragon tail is very popular to use, it gives such a good impression to the fly so here below you only see rigs that work with wiggle tail. You can, of course, skip this part. To do so you just simply use only one large hook in the end and no titanium wire and no fast attachment clip.
Tube fly Rigs:
Everything prepared: Dobb daddy hook rig for wiggle tail (just give the dobb to a friend) or Bauer Pike Rig for wiggle tail and add the Vision 35 lb wireline and bauer pike shrink tubing yourself.
DIY Basic:Tie your own rig, add Vision 35 lb wireline and bauer pike shrink tubing.
DIY Advanced: Tie the same rig but use the 40 lb partridge bauer pike wire leader, bauer pike shrink tubing.
Master Level: Use the 60 lb partridge bauer pike wire leader for the strongest and most reliable wire
Video on how to make a rig for tube flies:
Hook fly rigs:
Shoose the wire you preffer out of these options
DIY Basic: Vision 35 lb wireline
DIY Advanced: Partridge 40 lb bauer pike wire leader
Master Level: Partridge 60 lb bauer pike wire leader
Video on how to make a rig for hook flies:
I want to make a statement about how I think pike fly fishing should be done. Use barbless hooks. This will be safer for both the fish and for you. It is so easy to release the fish. Since I started to always fish barbless flies for pike I rarely even need a plier to take the hook out. When the fly is hooked in a visible place you can just take it out with your hands. If it is hooked further into the mouth you no longer need to have a long procedure of removing the hook. The amount of fish I lose is marginal, if you are skeptical about a small margin of lost fish. Then try a fiberglass big daddy rod. With so much bend like this rod has it is not likely for the fish to get loose. There are many times I have hooked myself, especially when taking a gill grip or removing a hook from a pike. One time it happened in front of the camera when filming Fly Tv mountain mamas. Those times you will be happy that it is easy to remove.
Flies are the most creative part about pike fishing. You can tie very realistic fish imitations but also the most abstract thing and still get a pike to attack it. Add florescent colors to your flies. That is colors that react to UV light. Fish see this in another way than we do. That can make a big difference between two flies that look pretty much the same to our eyes but the fluorescent fly have so many times delivered more fish for me.
Everything prepared: You can purchase ready tied flies both on tube and on hook online or in a well equipped fishing store.
Some of my favorites are: Bauer´s UV Herring, Bauer´s UV Bleeding Black and Bauer's Copper John
You can also find wiggle tails tied to a fast attachment clip. This product is called Dobb Daddy Wiggle tail- pack
When the wiggle tails first came out on the market it made a big difference in what a pike fly was. Now there is custom painted versions for more of a fluorescent effect on the fly. There is also wave tails and dragon tails. A well tied fly with a slim and high profile with a wave tail gets a nice side to side movement. A dragon tail gets a bigger impression in the water than a normal wiggle tail. You can experiment with all of them.
Video about fishing with wiggle tails:
Retrieve your fly
How you retrieve your fly is very important. It can do the whole difference if you catch fish or not. The three different styles I would recommend is:
1. Short, quick strips
2. Rolly polly
3. Long, slow retrieve
Note that rolly polly can not only be used in high speed like in this video but also very slow. That can be most effective sometimes.
What is the best method for each individual moment is difficult to give an answer to so I suggest that you try to alternate between then. What is important is to note what you where doing when you caught fish. There will be periods during the day when there is a longer time between the bites, to know what retrieve that has been the key to get the fish to bite earlier in the day is useful to know.
Hook set on a fish
Pike is an aggressive predator, when they go to attack your fly, they have the intention to kill and eat the fish. I see them as quite impulsive and their biggest advantage on the hunt is their sharp teeth and their attack speed. What sometimes happen is that they miss the fly. You only get a tug in the line. Set the hook by pulling in the line. When doing so the fly stays near enough for the pike to go for a second and third attack if it ain't hooked the first time. Here is a link for a video about hook setting properly.
Adding weight and getting the fly deeper and move more actively can be done in many ways. If you just want the fly to go deeper you can add cone heads on the wire or use a sinking line. If you want the fly to have more of an jigging movement I recommend you add the weight to the fly itself. You can fix a lose cone head near the fly if you want by using a dobb daddy rubber ball. To get them on to the leader easily, just use a neadle with a hook in the front like the one that comes in the Vision strike indicator kit. Then sliding it over to the looped wire becomes easy. Leave a bit of space for the cone head, just enough for it to do a clicking sound when hitting the fly. Or you put on a XXL cone head to finish tying a tube fly or use large dumbbell eyes on a hook fly.
Video on what weights you can add to a wire:
So there you have it, perhaps the most complete guide on the web as far as I know to cover everything from being at home rigging your stuff and to get out to the water and getting the fish to bite. Both for the beginner to easily get started and some more advanced stuff to learn further on the path when exploring some of the most fun fly fishing I know and to make it the most effective technique to catch northern pike. There are so many people to thank when making an article like this. I couldn't do something as complete as this in just two hours if it wasnt for the people putting great content on the web. Each day new stuff is coming out that is possible to link here. If you have a good link you think would do something to complete this content, if you have questions or miss something. Don't hesitate to contact me.