We have started our salmon season early this year and took advantage of the early opening of the salmon season in Scotland. We fished the river Tay and the river Dee. Two very different rivers in fishing and character. On the river Tay we have been fishing 2 beats:
BalticFlyfisher is happy to announce that from season 2017 we are starting a new business relationship with Scottish Salmon Fishing Surgery- better known as “SSFS”. SSFS offers tailored made salmon fishing holidays on many of Scotland’s finest and most exclusive salmon rivers.
This is the fourth and final of my articles on fly fishing for Salty-Pike, in the first I gave an overview of the gear we use, the second presented a brief insight into tactics, the third was all about the flies I use and this one tries to give you some tips on casting pike flies. Enjoy it.
Casting Pike Flies
You don’t have to cast far to catch Pike but as with most types of fishing it certainly helps – the more water you cover the more fish see your fly. I always begin by making a few short casts immediately in front and to the side of me before gradually lengthening the cast to cover greater range. As mentioned in my second article of this series Pike often lie in very shallow water so take it easy and don’t splash in without fishing the shallow water first
Casting large pike flies can be tricky, especially in the wind. Increasing line speed helps, and a good way to do this is to double-haul but this needs time and practice.
Try not to fight the wind, use it to your advantage; shoot high in a tail wind or turn round and “beach cast” (release on back cast) if the wind is blowing into your casting arm.
I would advise newcomers to book casting lessons from a certified instructor (of course I would wouldn’t I 😀 ). Casting is not about muscle and strength its all about technique. No matter how hard you try you will not ‘force’ big flies out into the water. A few lessons from a professional will teach you the basic techniques and help you jump the curve. Learn good habits from the outset, it can take years of hard work to re-program “bad” muscle memory!
But before you all rush off and book casting lessons with me 😀 here are a few tips to help you get along:
- use a short head
- use a short and thick leader
- after retrieving the fly, do a roll cast before false casting again
- choose a heavier line weight
- when false casting make sure your cast has fully straightened out
- drift whilst false casting
- if the wind is blowing from the “wrong side” turn round and beach cast
Just because your casting feels crappy doesn’t mean that it is crap – casting big flies is everything but elegant at the best of times.
See you on the water.
This is the third in my series of articles on fly fishing for Salty-Pike, the first gave an overview of the gear we use, the second presented a brief insight into tactics and this one describes the type of flies we use.
Flies for [Salty]Pike
I was first introduced to Flashabou Pike flies by a guy called Lasse Karlsson (now my husband 😉 ) on my first trip fishing for Salty Pike back in about 2004. The fly Lasse uses is a slightly modified version of a pattern which was originally developed by a Danish Fly-Tier called Morten Valeur. The fly is made up of a tail section and two dubbing loops of Flashabou. The result is a relatively easy to tie, easy to cast, highly visible durable fly with fantastic movement – all the characteristics of an excellent pike fly.
There are lots of different types of flash on the market, I have tried many of them but because of its softness and wide range of available colours, I personally prefer the original “Flashabou” by Hedron. The classic colours for Pike flies are silver, gold, copper or mixtures of these and in more recent years black holographic or pink flash have emerged (I use black for cod but that’s another story). The most successful colour combinations in the places we fish are red/kelly green and dark bronze.
I normally fish for Pike with a slightly weighted fly, I personally use bead chain eyes from the d.i.y store, but you can of course use a cone-head, epoxy eyes or thin tungsten wire if you prefer – its also a good idea to have a few unweighted flies in your fly box for fishing in shallow water.
Step by Step
Hook: Barbless Pike Hook, size 2/0 to 6/0
Head: Conehead or bead chain
Tail: Flashabou approx 1.5 times hook length
Hackles: Two dubbing loops of three bunches of Flashabou
Preparing the Flashabou
- Cut two bunches of flashabou – one in each selected colour
- Cut one in the middle and the second in one third and two thirds, your bunches of flash should now look something like the picture above.
Making the tail
- Mount a barbless hook in the vice or press down the barb
- Tie in the bead chain and fix it with super glue, or alternatively slip the bead over the hook bend up to the eye, tie it in and then fix it with super glue.
- Advance the thread to the rear of the hook
- Cut a decent bunch of flash in one colour and tie in as a tail (approx.1½ – 2 x hook length) so that roughly 2/3 points to the rear and 1/3 to front.
- Double back the forward facing 1/3 and tie the tail, whip finishing and fixing it with varnish or super glue
The first dubbing loop
- Make a large dubbing loop and attach a dubbing spinner
- Advance the thread to the bead behind the hook eye
- Put a long bunch of flashabou in the loop close to the hook shank
- Follow by a medium bunch and a short one
- Spin the loop horizontally making sure that the fibres do not tangle
- Hold the loop in a pair of hackle pliers and cut off the dubbing spinner
- Groom and order the fibres with a bodkin or dubbing needle
- Turn the hackle in close turns, carefully stroking back the fibers as you wind towards the eye
- Unwind the thread to the point where the hackle ends, tie down and cut off surplus
- Make a whip finish and varnish or super glue the knot
The second dubbing loop
- Advance the thread to a point behind the weighted eyes/bead head
- Repeat the dubbing loop routine this time ending up right behind the weighted eyes/bead head
- Whip finish, cut of the thread and varnish or preferably super glue the knot
- With a bit of luck your fly should turn out looking something like the one below
A Few more Flashabou Pike Flies
So that’s how we tie the Pike flies we use, hope you enjoyed the article. I am interested to find out what type of flies you use for Pike so please send me some photo’s of them, I’d love to see them.
Get out there ….
… after those Pike. See you on the water – Silja 🙂
In my previous blog article I wrote about the most exciting Pike fishing I know of in Northern Europe namely fly fishing for salty Pike in the Baltic. There are several aspects which make it one of my favorite types of fly fishing be it wading, the picturesque landscape of the Swedish archipelago and last but not least the salty Pike itself.
These coastal Pike cruise the brackish water looking for food. The size of the fish vary, but a fish under 3 kilos is rare, and specimens of up to 10 and 12 kilos are not uncommon. Like all Pike, the salty Pike is a great predator. It is a fully blown professional in ambushing its prey; it hangs almost motionless in sandy holes, behind big stones or in the seaweed (bladder rack) jungle, to aggressively explode out of its hide to engulf its prey with vicious deadly precision. The take is mind blowing and as fast as lightning it is followed by silence… until the fight begins.
Structure is the key to success as it not only provides hiding places for the Pike but also for the bait fish such as, Eels, young Pike, Ide, Cod (yes), Sea Trout and I am sure the occasional Salmon. Drop your fly close to rocks, strip it across a gully, by all means cast out as far as you can out over a drop-off but do not and I must repeat do not ignore the area behind you in towards the shore (beach); contrary to what you may think, the Pike are not necessarily in the deeper water, but will rest calmly in thigh or even knee deep water. Consequently you need to find them, staying on the move, walking and wading, popping your fly in all the nice little spots will probably bring you more fish than staying put near a “likely looking spot” and waiting for the Pike to come by! We often walk 5 or 6 kilometres or more during a days Piking. The fish are blitz fast and attack the fly viciously. Very rarely do they not “get hooked.”
The Pike flies I use is the subject of a seperate article in this series and for now I will just summarise briefly. Pike are in general not selective feeders and attack anything which looks like foooood. Rather than imitating the Pikes actual prey I use un-weighted and slightly weighted streamers made of Flashabou. These flies have a voluminous body and the Flashabou makes the fly not only glitter 😀 but also gives the Pike fly a sexy, pulsing movement under water. They are very effective, believe me!
Retrieval speed basically depends on water temperature; use slower strips in cold water and faster strips in warmer water. I try and cause the fly to undulate by combining both and building in [sink]pauses. I have found that on some days the Pike like loooong strips, other days short strips. But remember this is fishing, so there are no absolutes so don’t be afraid to think out of the box, experiment and do something completely different to what “the experts say”. I can remember one occasion a couple of years ago when I caught half a dozen or so Pike on a surface gurgler, in extremely cold weather (it had just started to get cold so the sea hadn’t frozen over) just a few days before Christmas. According to “tradition” gurglers and poppers are only for the warm days of summer!
Hooking, Landing and Releasing
When I first started fly fishing for Pike I used to set the hook by striking with the rod. I lost quite a lot of fish, either at the “strike” with the hook not setting properly or midway when the Pike “got out.” Something was wrong. I watched how others (mainly men) did it and I noticed that most of the Pike catchers did a strip-strike. Since teaching myself to “strip strike” – by this I mean when you feel a take just keep stripping until the line tightens, then clamp down on the line, lift slowly into the fish and allow it to turn away – the numbers of Pike I lose now approaches zero. This first rush of a Pike is for me “the drug” of Pike fishing: the line whizzes through your fingers, the water boils and the Pike surges away in a bow wave!
Landing a Pike might seem dangerous to your fingers, but grabbing it with your hand under the jaw between the gills is safe, however you may prefer to use something like a boga-grip.
I release them in the water and if you have a set of long nose pliers, unhooking the (barb-less) fly is easy, most of the Pike I have caught were hooked in the snout, only very occasionally do they take the fly deeply. Do not attempt to use your fingers! Pike have dozens of rows of razor sharp teeth, they will bite you… and you will bleed.
What tactics do you use Fly Fishing for Pike – let us know, tell us your story, send us some pictures!
I hope to see you on the water … Silja