Salty Pike Part 3: Flies

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.

Pike Flies

My favourite colour Pike Flies


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
Thread: Kevlar
Tail: Flashabou approx 1.5 times hook length
Hackles: Two dubbing loops of three bunches of Flashabou

Preparing the Flashabou


Flashabou Pike Flies Dubbing Loops

Flashabou ready to be dubbed

  •  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

Flashabou Pike Flies Tail

Tail tied in

  •  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

Flashabou Pike Flies First Dubbing Loop

First dubbing loop – seen from above

  •  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


Flashabou Pike Flies Stage 1

First dubbing loop completed



The second dubbing loop

Flashabou Pike Flies Second Dubbing Loop

Second dubbing loop seen from above.

  •  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


Flashabou Pike Fly
Finished Pike Fly



A Few more Flashabou Pike Flies

Flashabou Pike Fly (2)


Flashabou Pike Fly (3)


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 🙂

Salty Pike – part 2: Tactics


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.

Big Pike


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.

Perfect for Salty Pike

Perfect structure for Salty Pike


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.”

My favourite colour Pike Flies

My favourite colour Pike Flies


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!

Pike being released

She’s off …

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.


Silja and Robyn

Did you like it as much as Robyn did?

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


Salty Pike – part 1: The Right Gear

Autumn is traditionally “the time for Pike”, we make no exception. So in keeping with “the tradition” we go fly fishing for Pike …

… but not in freshwater as everyone else does, no that’s far too “traditional” for the folks @ BFF, we go for them in the sea, the Baltic sea, off the coast of southern Sweden, in the Skærgården!

Pike Fishing Country

Pike Fishing Country

When autumn is setting in over Sweden  it is time to head out to catch some salty pike. Although the Baltic Sea is salty it gets more and more brackish the further East and North you head and even though Pike are a freshwater fish, they also thrive remarkably well in brackish water. The area where we fish for Pike is the unique and picturesque landscape of the Swedish Skærgården (archipelago), characterised by its flat shoreline, scattered with small and large rocks, deep gullies, and small stone islands. In short: ample hiding places for Pike. The way we fish for them is by foot, walking and wading, stopping to fish in likely looking areas. Don’t think you have to cast into the next postcode either, in fact this approach is often detrimental to success; the Pike are usually lurking in a hiding place such as in weed (normally bladder wrack) , sandy holes or simply behind a stone. The water does not even have to be deep, hence when you are on the Pike hunt, remember that Pike can be anywhere: close by, to the side of you, behind you – everywhere. The shift of focus where the fish resides is key element for success. Get to know where and how your prey lives!

Pike are definitely not selective and will feed on anything which moves in the water; a zonker, bunny or a flashabou fly in hook size 2/0 – 4/0 will usually animate a pike to take the fly. However you might face a little irritation when casting such a big fly or “wuschel” or pike-brush (as we call it). Get used to the fact that you will probably be casting huge, barn-door size, open loops which look everything but “sexy”.  Add a little wind to to the equation, we’re fishing on the coast remember and mega frustration is bound to be near! However a few tackle tips might lessen your frustration.

Casting a Pike Fly

Fly Rods

Although personally I am a lover of light fishing tackle I would suggest not going lighter than an #8 weight rod for Pike fishing, I use an ECHO3 SW 9’0″ #8, my Dad (aka Stuart or Stui) uses an ECHO EDGE 8’4″ #8, or an ECHO ION 9’0″ #8 and occasionally one of the ECHO Switch Rods (but more about that in a future article) and my husband Lasse uses either an ECHO3 FW 9’6″ #8 or an #8 weight TCR from you know who ;). Using an #8 weight or even a #9 or #10 fly rod will certainly help to make it easier to cast big Pike flies, plus you can fight the fish harder and release them much sooner.

Fly Lines

I use the new RIO Pike line, my Dad prefers an AirFlo Sniper or a RIO Outbound-Short and Lasse uses home-made shooting heads or an ECHO Rage Compact (actually a DH shooting head) in 330grain/21g (the Rage is vaguely similar to the old Loop Pike-Booster head).  All of these set ups have  “massy” heads which helps to turn over big mama pike flies more easily. Your casting will feel much more at ease too, as the short but heavily weighted heads help get that extra ‘umpf’ into your cast – even in the toughest windy conditions.


Into a Big Pike

Silja into a BIG Pike


When casting big bushy flies you want to have a rather short stout leader and an even shorter shock tippet on the business end. You can use something like a RIO Toothy Critter or AirFlo Titanium Predator leader, both of which have the wire bite tippet built in. However you can of course approach it more pragmatically  – a length of 0.45mm or 0.50mm mono as the butt section with approx 30cm of 0.80mm Hard-Mono or a shorter piece of one of the Kevlar based tippet materials as shock tippet is enough.  Just make sure that your leader is no more than a rod length in total – even better if it is shorter. The more compact your leader and line set up is the better. Use loop to loop connections and pre-load your flies with your choice of tippet material this makes changing flies much easier, particularly when you have cold wet fingers.

Fly Reels

I use an ECHO ION 6/7 fly reel for my Pike fishing, they have plenty of capacity for the lines I use but if you use a #9 Sniper or similar then an ION 7/9 is better. But any fly reel will do but bare in mind that bulky “massy” lines like the RIO Pike line or AirFlo Sniper do require more capacity than a normal fly line. Of course if like Lasse you are a shooting head aficionado then you don’t have any problems at all with fly line capacity.

Medium sized Pike

Lasse with a small salty Pike

Pike Flies

I use flashabou flies tied on size 2/0 to 4/0 barb-less (of course) hooks mainly in Red/Green and Dark Bronze; I will be writing more about my Pike flies in a later article.

Summing Up

Choosing the right gear for your Pike fly fishing trip really means choosing an outfit that is easy and enjoyable to cast. You should enjoy the time you have at the water as much as possible – and choosing the right outfit might show that you are not such a poor caster after all!



Let me know where you fly fish for Pike


I would love to know how you fish for Pike – its always interesting to learn from others.



Organising your Spey Stuff

With all of the ECHO shooting heads, sink-tips and Polyleaders we use for chasing salmon and sea trout, the question of how to organise all of this stuff pops up on a regular basis. The guys at ECHO gave it a ton of thought when designing their current products and packaging.

To start off with, they made it very easy to distinguish the grain weight of all of their shooting heads; there are colour-coded loops (great for quick visual recognition) and if that was not enough they have clearly labeled them with the line type and grain on the front loop.  The rear loop (that’s the one which attaches to your running line) is black and provides a distinct visual break for easy load point identification.


Tim Rajeff and his crew took on the challenge of organising sink-tips and made it easy.  The ECHO Custom Cut Tips are available in a length of either 10ft or 18ft with grain weights of T-7 (white loop), T-10 (orange loop), T-14 (brown loop) and T-18 (black loop).  Each Custom Cut sink-tip comes with a colour-coded loop on one end; the darker the loop colour, the heavier the grains per foot.  So even if you have no idea what weight sink- tip you’re actually fishing, just change to a lighter or darker colour as you need to adjust to specific fishing conditions… It’s that simple.  You can fish these “as is” or cut them down to match specific fishing situations or casting preference.


Another useful tool for organising all your Spey gear is the Airflo Shooting Head Wallet.  It’s a simple soft-sided binder with zip- lock style bags and a Velcro enclosure. We use them when we go to fairs, but also when we go fishing; we have one for every rod we take with us, pre-loaded with the corresponding shooting heads and accessories. Each wallet easily contains your ECHO Skagit Compact or ECHO Skagit Switch and Custom Cut Tips for subsurface work and your ECHO Rage Compact or Scandi Compact and Polyleaders for surface and near surface work.  We also add extra leaders, tippet, flies and other terminal tackle.  That way you’ll never get to the river without the right tools.

HeadBagAll ECHO spey heads are now packaged in the same zip-lock style bags that fit right into the wallet.   Not only helping you stay organised, but it reduces unnecessary waste by eliminating the plastic spools. Plus, the wallet is small enough to fit into a hip-bag, rucksack or your waders.


It’s a great system for keeping all of your Spey gear organised.


Sssshhh Top Secret


We asked Dec Hogan what his secret is for casting a slow-ish deep loading 2-hander like the ECHO Dec Hogan series.  The preciseness of Dec’s answer took us by complete surprise:

“Slooooow down.

Not much rocket science in that … great stuff Dec 😀


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The Myth about Skagit Rod/Line Length Ratios

We have often been asked for the “rules” surrounding rod length line length ratios for skagit casting. Well who better to talk about that than the man himself  …


… this is part of a thread written by Ed Ward on the skagitmaster forum.


” ….. Skagit Rod/Line length Ratios
– Maximum Line length (belly + tip) – 3.5 times rod length.
– Minimum Line length (belly + tip)  – 1.75 times rod length.
   These figures are often stated as “rules” and for beginning/novice casters, they should be thought of as such. The max length of 3.5 has been determined by the fact that lines longer than this ratio become increasingly difficult to position and sweep without breaking the arms away from the body. “Breaking away” is counter productive to the “effortless power” aspect of Skagit casting because that effortless power action is dependent on keeping the pivot point of the sweep movement as compact and tight-to-the-body as possible.
   The minimum length of 1.75 has been determined by the fact that line lengths less than this ratio are difficult to maintain sufficient anchoring of the line on the water during the forward casting stroke to conduct that forward casting stroke without prematurely blowing the line off of the water.
   My recommendation for general purpose casting/angling or entry-level casters is a ratio around 2.75 to 3. Longer ratios of 3 to 3.5 are used for achieving maximum distance as that follows the “longer line, longer casts” rule of flycasting in general. A less-than-2.5 ratio would be selected primarily for tight quarters casting as the shorter the line, the shorter the resulting D-loop. Also, shorter ratios will increase the capacity of any given rod/line system to cast heavier tips and/or flies because “compacting” the overall weight of the line into a shorter package increases the grains-per-foot status of the line.
   As stated earlier, these rod/line ratios are presented as “rules”, but for advanced/expert casters that have established an effective, efficient Skagit casting “core” (Sweep-Turnover-Casting Stroke sequence), these rules become guidelines that can be “breached” to accomodate specialized situations. Lines longer than 3.5 can be cast by “breaking away” during line positioning movements, but one must then “re-establish” – AFTER the line is “set” and BEFORE conducting the Sweep – a “tight, fixed, central” casting pivot point… not exactly an easy action for a novice or even intermediate caster to accomplish. Lines less than 1.75 times rod length can be cast by lowering the plane of the Sweep, increasing the speed of the Sweep (to keep the lower altitude line from hitting the water) and narrowing the separation-of-planes action of the Turnover to a measurement of inches… another not-so-conducive-to-novice-casters process. These are actions that demand constant, vigilant attention and as such are only employed for VERY specialized situations, even by expert casters. …”