Northern pike are perfectly camouflaged, possess a voracious appetite, and have a keen eye for prey. Hook a trophy, and you're in for a spectacle of superb leaps and explosive power unmatched among freshwater fish.
When targeting pike, explore areas with underwater structures such as boulders, rock piles, weed lines, rivers, and creek inlets, along with man-made structures. Be prepared for the exhilaration of a strike, and remember to execute a strip set (no trout setting on these toothy critters).
Now, let's gear up for your next trophy (40+ inch) pike-on-the-fly adventure:
Rod: Opt for a fast-action 9 ft / 4-piece rod in 8 wt, 9 wt or 10wt . I rely on Thomas and Thomas fly rods, particularly the Exocett and Sextant models, for tackling big fish.
Reel: Equip yourself with a large arbor reel boasting a smooth drag, essential for handling trophy pike. Ensure it can accommodate at least 100 yards of gel-spun backing plus fly line. My go-to choices are Ross reels and Abel.
Line: Use a floating line (for 8-9-10 wt rods/reels) with a power taper designed for casting heavy flies. Investing in a high-quality line is crucial for an optimal experience. For deeper waters, consider a full sink line ranging from 250 to 350 grains. I like the Airflo fly lines for their durability and PVC-free construction.
Flies: Prepare your fly box with a variety of colors, sizes, and styles. Match your fly to the prevalent forage; for instance, use a perch pattern if pike in the area feed on perch.
Leader: RIO offers a tapered leader for "tooth critters" in 20 lb to 45 lb test. Opt for a wire leader instead of a snap (snaps tend to break!).
Leader and Tippet: Create a DIY wire leader using 5-7 ft of 25-40 lb mono or fluorocarbon line, ending with 1 to 2 ft of 40 lb wire bite leader material. Connect the line to the wire with an Albright or surgeon's knot, adding a drop of super glue for security. Tie the fly line end with a perfection loop and attach the wire bite end to the fly using a simple Rapala knot or non-slip loop knot.
If you prefer a store-bought leader, many tackle/fly stores offer tapered leaders with wire bites. Use a shorter leader with a sink line and a longer one with a floating line.
Pike Candy: Opt for flies in the 1/0 to 6/0 size range with lengths of 3 to 8 inches. I tie a lot of the pike flies myself. Remember to go barbless for the fish's benefit.
Here are some top flies for Northwestern Ontario pike:
- Charlie Bisharat's pole dancer
- Frog popper with weed guard
- The classic Dahlberg diver
- Lefty’s deceiver
- Flash tail whistler
- Perch pattern streamer
- Walleye pattern streamer
- Twister tail streamer
- White and orange, black and red-bodied flies with dumbbell eyes
- Clouser minnow
- Classic woolly bugger
- Black strip bunny leech
- Jiggy bunny