Northern pike are one of the more popular types of game fish for all types of fisherman. The pike is one of those fish that makes a fly-fishing experience worthwhile. They are very rough fighters once they know they are caught; the battles will take a long time. The larger pikes will often swim out to deeper water, making them even harder to catch!
The types of techniques for Northern Pike Fly Fishing depend on Northern Pike behavior. Northern Pike in spring are feeding heavily and will take smaller large streamer flies. Try various retrieval depths, strip speeds and actions until something works. Try casting your fly, let it sink for a few secondsthen retrieve the line in short, snappy four-inch strips every second or two. Lively up and down action seems to work well in spring. Brass or other dumbbell eyes add action to large pike streamers. Northern Pike in summer tend to be a bit lazier and pick on larger food, larger fish, ducklings, small animals… Surface or Floating Flies can be a lot of fun in summer. As we get into late summer Northern Pike hunt a little deaper but still prefer larger prey, so extremely large streamers that you can present 6-10 feet down seem to work better and sometimes slower, steadier retrieves. Northern Pike do not seem to be significantly particular about flies matching bait colors closely and some of the best Northern Pike flies are very large and brightly colored. Remember, Northern Pike a predators first, and eater second (winter time is a different story). Googly eyes on Northern Pike flies seem to be very effective for Northern Pike. One of the best type of equipment to use on the northern pike is the fly rod. (www.wildernessisland.com)
Usually a good technique is to cast into the shallow water and then control the retrieve so that the fly drops down as the water gets deeper. Also try to retrieve the line at varying depths since pike is an ambush eater and will jump on anything that comes near them. Try to make the fly look as if it were alive, varying its speed and direction to make it less predictable to the pike; this will perk his interest. A good way to archive this effect is to cast the fly, let it sink a few seconds so it will be about 30cm from the floor, then retrieve the line in short, snappy 10cm strips every few seconds. Don’t make this a very rythmic action, since the pike would be able to spot the fake bait. If the fly sinks very slowly try to bring it in about a foot each time, let it float and dip near the pike and pull again. This floating and dipping will look so appetizing to the pike that it will often strike right after you start pulling the line in. If nothing you do will make the pike strike, change the fly. Try a red one, or a very large one. Always have at least five different flies with you when you fish for pike since different pikes prefer different types of bait.
Always look at the pike to see what its response is. If it isn’t responding at all try to speed up the process, then slow it down. What you want to see is some kind of response from him. Interest is shown by the pike lining up with the bait and attempting to swim after it. Don’t stop what you’re doing when the pike shows interest, he will not try to bite if he notices that the prey is not moving. Sometimes the pike comes over to look at the bait, then swims away, losing interest. When this happens try to let the fly sink to the bottom and stir it up a bit. Often the pike will then pounce on the fly.
The best time to set out to catch a pike is when the water is free of ice and when it isn’t their spring breeding season. After the new pikes spawn is when the pikes will be the hungriest; since it is still spring there isn’t that much food and they also need to build up their resources again after the breeding and winter season. This is usually about two weeks after the ice breaks up on the lakes. As the water gets warmer the pike will also slow down but it can still be caught for about 6 or seven months in northern Canada. Usually the best days for pike fishing will be the clear-sky,warm and sunny days, when the the air is humid and hot. The pike usually dwell near things like weeds, logs, reefs, shallow bays, or where there is stream flow. They often blend in with the background since they are ambush eaters and will suddenly move and trap its prey. Try casting in clowdy water since the pike can blend in with the background.
When a pike has bitten your line the response will vary from a slight tug or tension to a sharp downward dip of your pole, or even just some slight vibration of the line. Whatever the response is, you should investigate and start pulling the line in slowly. If you bring him in too fast, the line will be too tight and often the pike will rip away. Give him line, since as mentioned above he is a fierce fighter and it will be a long battle to get him all the way out. When you retrieve the pike slowly they may not notice the movement that much and won’t fight as much. That way you also have a better chance of striking again since the other pike won’t panic. Just keep the line barely tight and pull it in slowly. Sometimes the pike will not even open his mouth to let go of the hook even if it isn’t hooked. With this method of retrieval he won’t know it is trapped until that last tug when you take him into the boat.
Another type of fishing is with the floating fly. This technique is much harder since you want to keep the fly out of water and yet very close to the surface, again try to imitate the observed behaviour of flies. This method is best when the sun is at a slant since the pike can see the fly with more ease. Try not to have very smooth movement, but have the fly jerking and moving in series of short, unpredictable moves. This will produce a sound as well. The pike will often turn towards that sound and then strike. The floating fly should be used near the same fishing locations as above, i.e. near shallow warm water with hiding places in it. If one fly doesn’t work, again use a different kind, try out ones that produce a louder sound or one that is more like the humming of a dragonfly. Try to use flies that have gold, pearl or silver flash strands to get the attention of the pike. (Notice that often flies have shiny bodies or wings which would reflect the light back at the pike too.) The retrieval is the same as for the other fishing technique.