Ready for Pike?

On May 8th pike and walleye season opens for the majority of waters east of Calgary.  Several members of our team look forward to throwing big flies for big fish each year during this season. You may have also noted that our fly tie Tuesday posts this month have been focused on pike.

We figured now is also a good time to share a few thoughts on equipment, flies and set up.

Before we get to equipment suggestions, we want to alert you to some access/usage issues that may arise due to the Covid situation. For those who like to use trailered boats please check very carefully to ensure the respective reservoir's boat launch is open. The vast majority of pike reservoirs fall in the EID. Here is a link to their website (go to the recreation tab). Please pay particular attention to the invasive species procedures and possible boat launch closures as the season opener approaches. We have a detailed response from the person responsible for invasive species in the EID reservoirs and the following has critically important information (Thanks to Jeff T):

"I am responding to your email regarding your questions about the launches, AIS Program etc.
 
Only non-trailered watercraft (canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, car toppers, etc. – any watercraft where it can be dragged in and not backed in) are allowed to launch on the shorelines but they are still required to register for the AIS Program and still have to call into the EID at 403-362-1400 before launching. 
 
Trailered watercraft (pontoons, ski boats, fishing boats, etc. - any boat that sits on a trailer) are only allowed to use the approved launches and are required to register for the AIS Program:
·         Lake Newell = Lake Newell Resort marina at the north end and Kinbrook Provincial Park marina (when it opens)
·         Crawling Valley = the campground marina
·         Rolling Hills = the campground marina
 
To fill out your registration form and receive your sticker you can visit Rolling Hills Campground, Crawling Valley Campground, or Lake Newell Resort Marina (the offices at the campground are not currently open but they will have someone on site every day to register watercraft – if there is no one around please call me at 403-363-9694 and I will register you). Yes, every time you access any EID reservoir you need to either check-in with the staff on-site and present your sticker or call me at 403-363-9694. Your sticker can be displayed on your boat in a way that is easily accessible and doesn’t require anyone to go into your boat (ie. windshield, boat trailer, by the engine, by the hull #, etc.) or can be kept in your vehicle but has to be displayed every single time you go through the on-site staff.
Brandi Doekten Land Administrator Aquatic Invasive Species
Eastern Irrigation District"
 

Also remember that the 2-meter social distancing rule applies to people in boats the same as it does for people walking dogs, using community pathways, etc.

Rods

We recommend 8 to 10 weights for pike fishing. Heavier rods allow you to toss the larger flies you need when you go after the bigger fish. 

Good options that won't break the bank include the Redington Predator, Echo Boost SW, TFO Esox or Axiom II.  Abe wants an 8’9” Echo Prime which is one sweet stick.

There are many other good rods that will do double duty as pike, salmon/steelhead, and saltwater. If you just want to try pike fishing without targeting large fish(over 15 lbs) and you plan on using your Bow River sized streamers you can use a 6wt without much issue.

Reels

You don't need a fancy - sealed drag, anodized - reel for pike unless you want a reel that will serve double duty for saltwater. On the budget side, the Redington Behemoth is a great choice. The TFO NV or the Lamson Remix are also very good options.

Lines

Fly lines are a bit of a challenge depending on how deep you need to fish. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Airflo Bass/Muskie (our most popular floating line).
  • Airflo Streamer Max or Shovel head for an aggressive sink tip.
  • Rio InTouch Outbound Series - the intermediate is excellent.

Tippet/Leaders

Pike anglers have options these days. One thing we strongly recommend is to make sure you have wire tippet. 

  • Ready-to-go options: 
    • Rio or TFO Pike leaders with 30lb wire tippet.
  • Do-it-yourself
    • Mono Portion
      • Tapered - To make your own all you need is a Heavy Butt (30-50lb) 3 to 4 foot section tied to about 2' of 25 pound test. The size and air resistance of your flies will help determine how heavy to make your leader. 
      • Non-tapered is the simplest approach - and requires 6 feet of 25 pound test Maxima (as long as it turns over your fly) 
      • Swivel portion  - xx size swivel
      • 18 inches of  Rio 20 or 30 lb Powerflex Wire Bite knottable tippet or AFW 20lb Surflon Micro 

Directions to make a tapered leader:

  1. Tie a perfection loop into the back end of your butt section that will loop to loop with your fly line
  2. Tie a double-uni or Blood Knot from your Butt Section to the 25 pound tapered section.
  3. Tie on the swivel using an improved clinch knot.
  4. Tie on the wire tippet using a 2-3 turn Clinch Knot.
  5. Tie on your fly with a Non-Slip Mono Loop

To tie a non tapered leader simply eliminate Step 2 above!

Some people are comfortable foregoing the wire and using straight MONO or FLUOROCARBON tied directly to the fly, which works most of the time. You just have to decide if the possibility of losing that one trophy of a lifetime fish is worth it....  David's opinion is it's “Not worth it.”

Flies

There are many options for flies ranging from your standard Bow River Streamers all the way to huge 13-16” articulated monsters!

Some Favorites are:

  • Pike Bunny #2/0 (black/red, red/white, chartreuse/white, yellow/red, pink)
  • Clouser Minnow #4 to #2/0 colors same as above
  • Whistler #2/0-3/0 (Red/White, Yellow/Red)
  • Musky Mash (red/white)
  • Bow River Bugger #2 (White or original Black/Olive)

Another important piece of equipment that is often overlooked is a thermometer to check water temperature. In the early season this is as important, or more, than your fly! 

Get out there, have fun, and watch your fingers!

 

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