Fly Colour

I was reading a thread about fly colour over at Shallow Fish about fly colour and whether it really maters or not. The general opinion is that it does not – at least that is my opinion anyway when it relates to Pike. I left a comment agreeing with another reader that I suspected movement of the fly is more important and I stand by that. Trout flies I am not so sure about – there have been days when trout would only take my electric green klinkhammer but shunned everything else – so the jury on trout is still out.

Anyway, as you know I have been catching pretty much all my pike on a pink bodied sparkly thing and I thought I had hit the nail right on the head with that little combination. However, I have now read I have been doing it all wrong – pike don’t take pink flies – in fact they are supposed to be imitative – greens and black work extremely well – and in murky water you are supposed to be using a dark fly as the silhouette shows up better in the pikes vision.

Good job I did not know that when I was catching those pike on my pink fly – might have put them right off!


  1. glad to see im not the only one that sticks to the “rules” , i would agree, an enticing action on your fly has to be more important, needless to say my dreams of attacking the canal today were scuppered by rain, spose theres always friday..

  2. I find the pike flies with the best movement are Bunny Bugs .The rabbit fur has an irresistable wriggling motion in the water.If you add dumbell eyes,this also imparts an added up and down movement when you retrieve.Orange or black ones have done well for me in the canal over the past few years.

  3. Scott – sorry to hear you did not manage to get out today – am I right in thinking heavy rain screws up the Pikes senses making it difficult for them to locate prey ?

    Paul – Orange you say ? Hmm that sounds interesting – are they difficult to tie? I looked up Bunny Bugs on google but all I could find was pictures of a cartoon rabbit – are they tied with zonker strips?

  4. Hi Alistair.Yes they’re tied with zonker strips.
    Sorry but i cant seem to find a step by step anywhere,if you google “bunny leech” there are more photos of the flies.
    You basically tie in a zonker strip at the eye of the hook ,wrap it down the shank,and leave whatever length of tail you want.I usually add a few strands of something sparkly.If you want to weight them you can use dumbell eyes or metal coneheads.
    Hope this is helpful!

  5. Right cool – they seem pretty easy to tie – They look as if they should make more of a disturbance in the water on the retrieve – how are they to cast? Does the rabbit fur soak up a lot of water ?

  6. Yeah they aren’t the lightest flies to cast when they’re wet,but i find i never need to cast very far on the canal anyway.

  7. Totally agree with you guys, movement beats colour hands down. However a small range of colours in the same pattern can mean the difference between success and failure some days.

    If you are not getting hits, try switching colours around every dozen casts or so. This sometimes stirs up a bonus fish. Stops them getting bored I reckon!

  8. Hey Steve – do you think it might be the shade/contrast of the fly that is important rather than the colour – like you could have every shade of grey from white to black and it would be the shades rather than the colour effecting the Pike taking the fly – a vision thing maybe ?

  9. Congrats on your recent pike bonanza. Agree with you guys on the movement thing. The other important factor is size and bulk. Ideally, you want at least 6″ of prime christmas decoration with a grappling hook on the end.

    keep the stories coming!


  10. Well done with the Pike Alistair, hopefully I’ll be emulating your success soon…. Fingers crossed.
    With Trout flies I’ve always believed the importance order is size, shape then colour. Tests I’ve done with all Black, all white and all orange flies years ago helped convince me. With Pike I think colour will still have an effect but it’ll be waaaay down the line after size and action. As you know I’m no expert but thats my 2p….
    By the way, for bunny leeches, Lakeland has nice crosscut rabbit and muskrat zonkers… g.a.c. should carry them as well. Great flies, my biggest fish on holiday this year fell to a black one.
    Good Luck.

  11. Alistair, don’t know about using black, white and various shades of grey in between, you could always try?

    Most research I’ve seen suggests fish do see actual colours though a hell of a lot that is written conflicts, but that’s true of most things!

    I tend to think along the lines of offering something that looks like it maybe food and gives the impression of being an easy meal. Whenever a certain fly pattern works well on a water it becomes the standard. Thats when I like to use something different, sometimes it works, other ties not.

  12. Hey Jim – thanks for commenting – I am going to get a little selection of zonker strips for next week 🙂

    Steve – I think Pauls bunny bugs will look like small bait fish to the pike – I think someone else has said about vibration.

    Hmmmm – can you buy zonker strips in pink ?

  13. i dont know if the rain affects the pike much but it certainly destroyed my motivation haha, as for the bunny bugs, ive got a couple in my box and they look great in the water, as my fly tying skills are extremely limited ive not tried to tie any up myself, but considering they are about 3 quid each i should really try!

  14. Like I said the other day, I have seen jack pike taken on worms on the canal, so I think pink or red must be pretty attractive to them a fair amount of the time. There are also roach in that stretch, pinky red flies might do a fair approximation of a fish with translucent red fins, where a predator with a small brain living in murky canal water is concerned.

  15. There are loads of fishing shops there, we fish down there often and pretty much all the decent size towns have a fishing shop. My advice, if you have time, is to stop in at John Norris in Penrith.. it’s a good shop and the fly tying stuff is always well stocked.
    Only problem is that it’s one of those shops you never just have a quick visit to. Could cause friction with the missus….. haha

    Have a good weekend.

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