Early on this Spring after have heard how fly fishing for pike is ‘the best’, I decided that my time had come. 2014 was going to be the year that I caught a pike on the fly!
The first problem was that all my previous fly fishing had been for trout and a #7 set up was not going to be man enough for Ol’ Esox. I began to browse forums and various web sites to try and find the right gear.
I finally settled on a Vision Big Daddy #9 9ft which is designed for casting ‘budgies’ as the pike fly boys call the big flies pike take.
Again from advice received I opted for a Rio Outbound Short fly line. These are based on shooting head lines with excellent turn over properties as all the weight is in a very short forward section and they run well through the rings with minimal back casting.
As I was chasing the ‘toothy critters’ a wire trace was essential but I did not want to use the traditional trace as they are liable to kink with frequent casting. I decided to go for one of the more supple and knotable wires. So after a chat with my local dealer I purchased a spool of Cannelle Powertress. This stuff is just so soft, it does not feel like wire at all and holds a blood knot well.
All this gear is no good without some decent flies. After chatting with Sam Baxter I found a guy on Facebook who ties some excellent pike flies and six were winging their way to me.
As with all new disciplines you must start with practice, practice, practice. So I planned two low pressure trips to Rudyard Lake to practice my ‘fluff chucking’. It was just my luck that both days were wet and windy, but I though ‘If I can cast in this I can cast in any weather! I had limited success a few follows but no takes.
I was ready to have a more serious effort. I headed for a lake I have pike fished previously so my confidence was high. This was to be my first of three visits to the lake over 10 days, alone and with friends.
The visits coincided with the end of spawning so I thought the pike would still be in or near the rushes on the lake and so it proved to be.
I found that after the first few casts things were running well. The Rio line was excellent and probably flattered my casting style but that is it’s strength. I found that very quickly I was casting real close to the rushes and with practice and a change of angle I was able to cast my flies nicely under overhanging trees with the fly settling nicely in the gin clear water.
It truly is a great way to fish, it is so visual and the action of the large flies is so enticing to the pike. I started catching pike almost straight away. What amazed me was the amount of follows I could clearly see and by seeing the fish I could see what action I should put in the fly to induce a take. Sometimes speeding up and sometimes stopping and letting the fly flutter down through the water.
The frustrating thing was how many pike came up short on the fly snapping at the trailing dressing and missing the hook. I tried trimming the fly but the action was spoiled and the pike were not as eager. Oh well not to worry, it’s probable that if I was casting lures I may not have seen these missed fish.
With each cast I let the fly sink on contact with the water for about ten seconds and very often I would have an instant take so don’t be in too much of a rush to start the retrieve. The pike also took on the first twitch of the fly. All these reactions tend to mirror what we find with lure fishing.
The major difference I found though was that if I fished a mark with a lure I would usually get only one fish out whilst the stealth that a fly landing has led to numerous fish.
Playing a fish on a fly rod and line is so much fun, the direct contact retrieving a fish by hand lining much of the time is such a high. Plus by using just a single hook chinning a fish and un-hooking at the side of the kayak is so simple.
A word of advice to anyone starting this exciting method from their kayak…..try and keep your deck as clear as possible because your line will snag, it will actively seek out forceps, spare rod, flies indeed anything near by and often flip them into the water as quick as a flash.
Well did I achieve my goal?
Over the three trips I was lucky enough to catch 24 pike with two over 14 pounds. They were some of the most exciting pike sessions I have had and I heartily recommend pike fly fishing from your kayak.