Northern pike could be carefully associated to muskies, however they’re not muskies. They’ve very completely different feeding habits. They exhibit completely different predatory behaviors. Pike are additionally smaller. But regardless of this, I’ve seen that many fly anglers wish to deal with pike like muskies with regards to gear. That is very true with novices. Visions of 50-inch pike captivate them, main them to imagine that larger and heavier sort out is the best way to go. Chasing northerns on the fly is certainly one of my favourite issues to do, and I’ve carried out it throughout North America. What I’ve discovered is that much less is commonly extra with regards to being profitable. As fall creeps in and people water temperatures drop, I begin getting revved up for pike, however what I received’t be doing is spending hours on the vise or strengthening my arms to get after them. You shouldn’t both. Right here’s why.
Skip the Meat Stick
Muskie anglers have a tendency to make use of a minimal of a 10-weight fly rod. In some excessive circumstances, I’ve seen muskie fly freaks bump all the best way as much as customized 15-weights. This, I can guarantee you, has little to do with needing that type of energy to battle a muskie. In muskie fly fishing, nevertheless, you do want a heavier rod to throw huge, heavy flies. It’s additionally useful for driving the hooks into their jaw as a result of keep in mind, you would possibly solely get one shot a day, so that you need no matter benefits you will get. Lastly, a powerful fly rod means that you can put critical warmth on a muskie and get it to the web rapidly. When you concentrate, muskie guys—each fly and traditional—don’t let the fish run. They need it within the bag immediately. However as quickly as you step right down to pike, utilizing a 10- to 15-weight fly rod makes little or no sense.
When you occur to stay someplace loaded with pike that continuously hit the 40-inch mark or higher, completely different story. The truth, nevertheless, is that fisheries like that exist in only a few locations. For many of us in pike territory, you’re catching massive numbers of smaller fish with the occasional trophy blended in. Subsequently, carrying your self out throwing a 12-weight on the off probability a forty five incher reveals up is type of foolish. You’re now overpowering 90 p.c of the smaller fish and dampening their preventing skill. Likewise, it’s not unusual to get dozens of photographs at pike per day, so having a rod that can get each fish within the web in 3 seconds isn’t needed—should you lose one or two, it’s a not a giant deal. I exploit an 8-weight rod for pike no matter whether or not I’m fishing regionally for fish that common 20 to 25 inches, or in Saskatchewan the place a shot at a 50-incher may be very actual. If that fifty eats my fly, I’m not apprehensive, as a result of I do know an 8-weight has loads of energy, and extra importantly, I understand how to correctly battle a big fish with a fly rod so being barely under-gunned is OK.
You’ll be able to solid an 8-weight all day with out getting worn out, and I’ve used one to land my personal-best fly pike, which measured 46 inches. That pike, by the best way, ate a 6-inch fly, not some 12-inch mass of feathers, hair, and flash that took 4 hours to tie. This brings us to fly choice.
Skip the Meat Flies
An enormous muskie would possibly snatch a giant meal as soon as a day, possibly even as soon as per week. Level being, there may be worth in creating gym-sock-like flies that match enormous forage, transfer extra naturally, ramp vibration, and use no matter accoutrements essential to journey a fish’s set off. Muskies typically require critical coaxing to open their mouths. Pike, however, are usually simply extra prepared eaters (which is why I like them greater than muskies). That’s to not say there aren’t situations and situations that make pike choosy, however for probably the most half, in the event that they’re hungry, they’re not very discerning. Consider that larger probability that you simply’ll rating a pile of pike in a single day, and you’ll financial institution on having quite a lot of flies destroyed. When you’re throwing $15 customized muskie flies, that hurts.
I tie most of my very own pike flies, and I hold them extremely easy as a result of I anticipate getting one or two fish per fly earlier than it’s relegated to the trash bin. My desire is a 5- to 7-inch streamer with some flash and a tail that has some motion. That may be so simple as some lengthy hackle feathers, a pinch of tinsel, and a gob of artificial dubbing for a head. One other favourite is a Dragon Tail with a flashy dubbing head—which takes lower than 5 minutes to tie.
These streamers present a sufficiently big profile to enchantment to trophy pike, however they’re not too huge to show off smaller specimens. They’re additionally sparse and streamlined sufficient to ship effortlessly on an 8-weight rod. When you don’t tie your individual flies, spend money on some Whistlers, bunny snakes, and easy artificial baitfish patterns.
Skip the Cable
As a result of a muskie angler would possibly solely get one shot at a fish in a day (or per week), it’s not unusual to see them incorporate heavy metal cable or 200-plus-pound fluorocarbon into their leaders as chew safety. It’s an insurance coverage coverage, and I get it, however the actuality is that muskie enamel aren’t any sharper than pike enamel, and I’ve by no means had a pike—together with 40-plus-inchers—chew via a skinny piece of metal wire.
My go-to for years has been Cortland’s Tie-Ready Stainless Metal Chief Materials, and whereas it’s accessible in as much as 50-pound breaking energy, I’ve but to come across a pike that would reduce via the 20-pound. The fabric is coated in inexperienced nylon to cut back glint and visibility, and it’s supple sufficient to knot with out slippage. This makes it straightforward so as to add simply 10 to 12 inches of wire to the tip of my chief while not having crimps or a barrel swivel.
Most significantly, utilizing a skinny, versatile wire lets your flies have most motion. While you’re coping with a large, material-packed customized muskie fly, it could transfer sufficient water resulting from its bulk that an extra-heavy chew wire could not have an effect on its motion drastically. However should you’re utilizing smaller, less complicated streamers for pike, too heavy of a chew tippet can squash the motion. If the sunshine wire will get bent or twisted after a number of fish, it’s straightforward to easily clip one other piece off the spool and change it. I additionally wish to tie a small duo-lock snap to the tip of my wire so when certainly one of my flies will get too chewed to carry out, I can rapidly swap it out and hold hammering.