Nothing is as fun as fly fishing for pike, the top predator in many waters. Hooking into and landing a 20-30 lb. pike on a fly rod will get your adrenaline rushing and is truly an unforgettable experience. However, the shear size of these fish and the larger pike flies used to target these predators require a heavier and stronger setup both in terms of your fly rod and leader for best performance.
In this post we show you how to construct and set up a standard all around pike fly fishing leader with a wire tippet and how to tie on your pike flies.
The large flies used when fly fishing for pike require a powerful leader to properly turn over the flies. These leaders can easily be constructed by taking a 3-4’ piece of 40 lb. monofilament and combining it with a 1-2’ piece of 30 lb. monofilament via a blood knot. The last step is to tie a perfection loop in each end of the leader for attachment to the fly line and wire tippet (see below), respectively.
If you don’t want to construct your own leader we recommend buying a designated pike leader such as Rio’s Pike Leader or a salmon leader with a 0.6-0.7mm butt diameter. If you go for the latter option, cut off the tip section of the salmon leader to leave only a 3’-4’ piece of the stiff butt section.
When fishing with a full sinking line shorten the leader by 1’-2’ to prevent the fly from floating up in the water column.
The final piece of the puzzle is the wire tippet. Although sometimes a pain to work with, a wire tippet is an absolute must to prevent the pike from breaking you off during the fight.
For wire tippet we prefer to use a 1’-2’ piece of Powerflex Wire Bite from Rio in 20-40 lb. test strength. This flexible and nylon-coated wire tippet does not kink and can easily be knotted to the fly (see below). In addition, the wire tippet can be modified to include a loop in one end (figure 1) allowing for an easy and quick attachment to your leader via a loop-to-loop connection (figure 2).
If you don't want to make your own you can buy Rapax Fly Fishing's pike wire tippet.
Figure 1. How to make a loop in the end of the wire tippet:
Step 1 - Fold the end of the wire tippet over and wrap the tag end 5-6 times around the standing wire to create a loop.
Step 2 - Using a lighter heat the wrapped wire section gently to melt the nylon. This step fuses the two wires together creating a very strong connection.
Step 3 - Using wire cutters cut the tag end off close and your tippet is ready for connection to the leader and fly.
Figure 2. Connect the pike fly fishing wire tippet to the leader using a loop-to-loop connection.
We prefer to use a non-slip mono loop knot to attach the fly directly to the wire tippet. The non-slip mono loop knot is fairly easy to tie (see below), strong and allows the fly to freely swing on the loop which maintains the enticing action of the pike fly.
Create an overhand knot at the end of the wire tippet and thread the tag end through the hook eye and through the overhand knot.
Wrap the tag end about 5 times around the standing end.
Pull the tag end back through the overhand knot.
Apply some moisture and pull the knot tight. Cut off the tag end off and as a last step use a lighter to gently heat the knot to melt the nylon coating and fuse the knot together.
As an alternative to tying the fly directly to the wire leader using a non-slip loop knot, a swivel and snap can be attached to the end of the tippet using a similar method as described above to create a loop in the wire tippet.
A snap and swivel allows for quick exchange of flies and reduces line twist but comes with the risk of the snap opening up or break while fighting the pike.
Adding flash and vibration to flies is a proven way of attracting predatory fish. A great way of doing so is to spruce up your flies with wiggle tails. The life-like action of wiggle tails are hard for the fish to resist.
In this article you find an instructional video on how to attach wiggle tails to your flies using snaps for hooks and snaps for tails.
Just like many other game fish, northern pike will display seasonal patterns. These patterns are fairly universal and once you are aware of them allow you to more efficiently target structure and cover that are most likely to hold pike, whether it being spring, summer, fall or winter.
This guide will give you an overview seasonal northern pike patterns.