Great Expectations with Pike on the Fly

Isn’t it great when a fishing session you have planned turns out as expected – I mean, there has been times in the past when on the run up to a fishing trip (even a short one – the excitement usually starts on a Tuesday) my pals regale each other with tales of how many fish we could possibly catch – “it will be awesome” we say. Usually on the way home we end up discussing where we went wrong and why the fish just did not play ball.

Well, today was one of those other sessions where on the way home we had a deep sense of satisfaction due to a good mornings fishing.

Alex picked me up at 0445 to be at our place of attack at dawn – the whole journey was beautiful – the dips in the glens were bathed in mist – it felt like a true Autumn morning – in fact it probably was!

We were pleased to see only one boat moored, although it was right where we wanted to fish – we decided to just cast randomly where we thought Pike might be holding……he tried the deep water, I tried near the margins next to weeds.

First to get into a Pike was Alex – a nice Jack that took line and fought well above its weight.

We were using white EP Fibre flies with a little tinsel on size 4 hooks….I had tied up a dozen – not all in white though – I had added some extra tinsel to some of them – I had even tied up some green ones to imitate juvenile pike…

As you can see our flies gradually deteriorated after each Pike – sometimes even a pike having a bash at it was enough for the fly to look a bit bedraggled – I am thinking of adding varnish to the bodies to make them more durable.

Alex was fishing in deeper water and was getting a fair few follows and hits – landing another one while I was struggling with only a few follows -we eventually worked out the pike must have been waiting in the deeper water – waiting for the water to warm before moving into the shallows. Still, it was exciting when I took my fly out the water at the end of a retrieve and a huge swirl told me a toothy critter had been on the follow.

The action rose to what felt like a feeding frenzy….

It seemed that every few casts we were getting tugs and pulls – lots of action on the water with bait fish jumping out the water in terror as obviously a large hungry Pike was nearby – we cast near the bait fish – sometimes we would turn the Pikes head towards our giant flys….a crazy tussle would then ensue and then the Pike was back in the water safely to grow bigger – or possibly to get eaten by its BIG MOMMA

The chap in the boat (dead baiting) was looking forlornly over at us as we were hauling in Pike left right and centre – still he was happy as he got one on his dead bait eventually – a nice Pike at 17lbs.

“We would have had that if he was not there” my fishing buddy and I told each other.

The first Jack I caught did not fight hard however the second went like a steam engine…

We caught no real monsters although we did turn the heads of some bigger Pike…it is only a matter of time before one of us lands a doubler..

Look at those teeth – you can see why you need to use proper wire trace.

I was wondering whether to post this video or not as it makes us both sound like heathens – My pal with his swearing – well – lets just say he was feeling emotional shall we…

..and that was with my pal playing the fish hard with a nine weight sage. The sheer power of these fish are incredible……Every piece of your tackle must be up to the job – from your rod to your line, leader, wire trace and fly.

You must wear drab clothes as well to fit in with your surroundings – for example…

You may not see me in the above photo due to my cunning camo back pack….I know, I blend in like the trees…

Talking of tackle I reckon a new 9 weight is on the cards – I just felt that my nine weight (it is really an 8/9) is just not up to the job – it feels a little too soft to throw those big pike flies out there – I need something a little stiffer – a little more powerful to go with these dinosaurs – after feeling the raw power of the bigger beast that got away last week a strong nine weight does not feel too over the top (Hells Bells the experts recommend you use a 10 weight at a minimum)

I love it when a plan comes together!


  1. scott · August 24, 2008

    I’ve got to be honest, although i generally do well with deadbaits and even lures, my pike fly fishing has been sorely lacking….pike! However, i cant help but get inspired by your recent exploits, some serious early morning pike hunting must be done this week!

  2. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    Hey Scott – put it this way – sure the Jacks might be more inclined to go after a fly but catching several sure beat the boombas out of watching a float and then pulling in on big one πŸ™‚

  3. scott · August 24, 2008

    Definately, except i aint even gettin a few jacks haha, i reckon i just need to re-think my tactics/ waters im fishin etc
    besides, judging by the last few blog entries it’s not just jacks that want your flies!

  4. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    What size of flies are you using Scott?

  5. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    By the way – some people still seem to have theme issues – can anyone tell me if the sidebars are pushed down iether side on their screens ?

  6. Pete · August 24, 2008

    Sacrificing a few flies in exchange for fighting a few pike is a trade off I’ll always be glad to make. Good stuff. Glad to see others out there who view pike as an excellent fly rod challenge.

  7. john stirling · August 24, 2008

    where are you fishing?

  8. Andy · August 24, 2008

    Alistair – I’m a little gutted to be honest. We had fun on friday, but not quite the pike fest you guys seemed to have had… was that Sunday you fished? We went up this morning at dawn but the weather was freakin’ awful. Planning again later in the week. Is dawn the best time?

  9. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    Hey John – I get nervous about people asking about spots, however if you stick around long enough it doesnt take too long too work these things out! πŸ™‚

    Andy – It was blowing a gale this morning – I dont think time of day really matters as long as they are in a positive taking mood – at the end of the session we started to spook pike with our flies – this was pike we had not covered!(blowing a gale and wild weather should have been good I would have thought as it provides cover)


  10. Jim · August 24, 2008

    Nice one Alistair, I’ve been breaking out the EP fibers myself in an attempt to get ready for some Piking. The Trout are still calling though, through the rain the upper reaches are still giving up fish but the seasons end is in the post.
    Hopefully when I eventually get around to Pike they’ll still be chasing the odd (and I mean ODD) fly.
    If I can find a small part of the success you’ve been enjoying recently I’ll be happy.

    Well done.


  11. Andy · August 24, 2008

    you would think so eh? But no, we winkled out 1 tiny pike between the three of us. To be honest the weather was so awful and blowing right into our faces it was nigh on impossible to cast. I think we fished the wrong bits though cause we concentrated on the smaller pools and weeds. Well done though mate, you are an inspiration to us all ya jammy git πŸ˜‰

  12. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    Ach – we only caught one -we just took lots of pictures of it πŸ™‚

  13. kbarton10 · August 24, 2008


    All the canny saltwater fly fishermen use EPOXY on their fly bodies – it’s the only thing hard enough to withstand big teeth. I tied a lot of these commercially, and they used two styles; epoxy over the top of the body tinsels, or wrapping the body with a flat mylar tinsel and then winding 20lb test clear monofilament over the top.

    The mono method is a little more time consuming, but you can tie the fly in one sitting, versus doing merely the body, then setting it aside to dry. The monofilament is wrapped with each turn touching the last – so none of the flat tinsel is exposed to teeth.

    Hope this helps.

  14. kbarton10 · August 24, 2008

    I should probably mention that epoxy is used for the head as well. Tie a dozen and then apply the head all in one sitting. If your epoxy starts getting thick – hit it with a hair dryer, the heat acts as a “thinner” and will allow the epoxy to flow like a liquid again.

    They use the same technique to apply epoxy as a rod finish. A hair dryer will thin it – forcing all the air bubbles to the surface so the rod has a smooth glass finish.

  15. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    Hmmmmm – Mono sounds like a good plan – I will pick up some epoxy tommorow – I am kinda assuming I can put it on the fly now… after I have tied them all up?

  16. Andy C · August 24, 2008

    nice one

  17. scott · August 24, 2008

    I am using flies ranging from 3 to 8 inches! maybe its just my pattersn that are guff. I think i just need to save the fly for clearer water and really spend a full day with it to stand much chance of success.

  18. kbarton10 · August 24, 2008

    Surely, you can do all the heads easily enough. If the flies are already tied the body would be tough, as you’d have to pull the wing away while it dried.

  19. urbanflyman · August 24, 2008

    im going to start tying my own pike flys soon too how much is the ep fiber and do you get it in loads of colours i suppose

  20. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    Hey urbanflyman,

    The key is not to use too much fibers – I made the mistake at the start of making the most amazing looking flies – they looked very streamlined with fibre all around the hook – they were rubbish – they were a nightmare to cast and were horrible to pull.

    The key is just to use maybe a couple of inches long strip (maybe three) and maybe around a cm thick – this means the fly will end up roughly the same size as the baitfish (although if you want big pike you make big flies). I also add some tinsel – best colors would be white, green and black!

    We should meet up down the canal and I can show you !

  21. Jim · August 24, 2008

    Heres a link I found useful when I first used EP fibers, the pattern is for a salt water fly but it doesn’t matter… the tying technique works the same for all. You can adapt how you tie it to suit yourself, shape of the body or colours or extra flash materials or whatever.

    I made the same mistake to start with Alistair… Less is definately more with this stuff.


  22. Alistair · August 24, 2008

    Thanks for the link Jim πŸ™‚

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