Never Stop Casting
The first thing someone told me with regards to chasing pike on the fly was “Be ready for sore arms from casting all day.” And they were not wrong. Since most of the flies you are throwing are of the larger variety, and you’ll typically be throwing anywhere from an 8 weight to a 10 weight with the heavy sinking line, have the Bengay ready for when you get back to the car after the float.
Be Ready at All Times
Pike are predators and stealthy ones at that. If you’ve ever watched videos of them snaking slowly through brush and grass on the hunt for unsuspecting prey, you know how sneaky they can be. This means that they can hit at any time, with no warning. They could have been following the fly for a mile, or mere inches, but you need to be prepared to strip set hard as soon as you feel the fish inhale your fly!
Switch Up Your Retrieve
Similar to any streamer strategies, before you change your fly, you should always try a bunch of retrieve styles to make sure the fly is the problem, not the retrieve. Some fish want a slow retrieve mimicking a dead or dying fish, or some want the only eat a fish moving 100 mph through a hole like its a bat out of hell. With so many different variations in selectivity and forage, be sure to change the retrieve up before you make the fly change!
Fish the Back Waters
You know that little backwater that fills in when the water is up, or the muddy, weed-covered flat in that back eddy, yeah there’s probably a pike who runs those waters, and they don’t like unwelcomed guests. Next time you think, hey that looks fishy, punch a cast back there, and watch as that territorial river wolf pushes wake to destroy your trespassing fly.
Fish Where You Can’t See
Pike are primarily ambush hunters, lying in wait for their food rather than chasing it all around the water. Put your flies through those deep dark pockets, under overhanging banks, through deep weed beds, pretty much anywhere you can’t see the bottom or the back of the pocket. These areas are spots where the pike can sit and wait for dinner without exposing themselves to their prey or threats from above (like you)!
Bonus: Pack Your Patience and Some Buddies
Just like with any kind of fishing trips, most pike trips have the opportunity for a lull in the fishing. So make sure you don’t forget your patience at home and be sure to have some friends along to share the glory and the suffering with, and maybe a few adult beverages. Tight Lines!
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!