Published Dec 15. 2002 - 13 years ago

Flyfishing for Perch

Perch is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite sportsfish. They are splendid to see, they're aggressive fighters and you can waylay them with light equipment.

Eddie Bourma - Eric Onrust

Perch is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite sportsfish. They are splendid to see, they're aggressive fighters and you can waylay them with light equipment.
Besides, catching perch with the fly is excellent, in fact, sometimes there is no better bait. A spinner, spoon or shad is a great alternative when specifically fishing for bigger perch, but when fishing for smaller perch, which lives in shoals, a small streamer is a better match.

Any type of water

Perch can be found in almost any type of water. They are small fish - a fish longer than 30 centimetres may be considered big, but in some waters you can find prehistoric monsters which exceed the magic length of 40 centimetres. In the big rivers and lakes catches like these are reported regularly. In the region where I live are no rivers and I think the lakes are too big to find the fish, so I restrict myself to some local sand quarries. Sometimes big shoals of hunting perch are active along the banks of the Schildmeer. In these periods you'll definitely find me out there fishing. The large quantity often compensates for the small size, especially when you're able to use light equipment. A #2 rod is sufficient in weak wind conditions. When the fish stay deeper than 2 meters I prefer a sinking flyline. These sinking lines are not available in light classes so you have to switch to a heavier rod.

Light rod

I nearly always use a fast #4 rod. On this rod I use a fast sinking line, a Teeny 130 shortened with a 2-meter (6') line. This line casts perfectly on my rod and sinks about 10 centimetre or 4 inches per second. My leader is simple - one meter or 3 feet of 0.32 millimetres, which is about 1X. The tippet is the same length but 0.25 millimetres or 2-3X. This may be a little overdone, even for very big perch, but very handy considering the regularity with which water-plants, which grow on the bottom of the lake, are hooked. The thickness of line has no visible influence on the fly action.

When I fish for perch I only use two types of flies. When I'm after the big ones I use an up-side-down-fly (#2/0) which looks like a Crazy Charley. When I'm on the hunt for perch in the wintertime or fishing the shoreline of the Schildmeer I exclusively use a small streamer which is called "de Schildmeer speciaal" by my friends. This small streamer has a deathly action. Last year I often managed to catch more than 50 perch in less than a day. Because the streamer is barbless you can quickly unhook the fish and release them undamaged back into his element.

Fishing from the shoreline

It's early when my alarm goes off. I did all the necessary preparations yesterday, because I don't want to loose valuable time today. Within 30 minutes I'm on my way. Today's destination: the Schildmeer. It hasn't rained for the last couple of days and the wind is weak. These are favourable conditions - so the water will probably be very clear. The Schildmeer has a peaty bottom. When the wind blows hard the groundswell muddies the shallow water on the shoreline. When it rains for several days the surplus water is drained and the whole lake is filled with muddy water. Flyfishing for perch is in these conditions is very difficult.

Clear water is not only better for the catch, but makes fishing a lot more attractive. When the perch are very active you can expect a shoal of hunting perch following your streamer with every cast. It's a magnificent sight to see these monsters chasing your streamer. My fishing pal, Ben Koning, told me that the perch has been hunting the shoreline for several days now so I'm full with confidence.

Inspect the water

When I arrive at the lake the first thing I do is inspect the water. The water is very clear and sometimes I see hunted fish just underneath the surface. The smaller perch live in shoals. Sometimes you may find a slightly larger perch, as long as your shoe, swimming among the smaller perch. I suspect that the really large perch, with a minimum length of 40 cm, prefer a solitary existence, because I never manage to catch two in a row.
My weapon is the fast #4 rod with the shortened Teeny 130. In some places the depth is less than one meter, but because my stripping is very fast the streamer runs too high when I use a floating or intermediate line. The fly I use is "de Schildmeer speciaal". The small fish, which usually swim in front of the shoal, are often the first to take the streamer. Of course I try to selectively fish for the bigger ones in the shoal. A bigger hook seems obvious, but every time I use a bigger hook the size of the catch decreases. In the end I used hook size 4/0 and even the 20 centimetre or 8" fish take it as if it were size #20 pheasanttail. This is one of the reasons why I use only "de Schildmeer Speciaal".
The shoreline of the Schildmeer consists mainly of reed. Of course you can catch some perch out there but the places where we fish consists of varied structures.

Eddie Bourma

It's partytime out here

Ben, my fishing mate for today, and I finally start fishing. Our first spot is an old dilapidated scaffold. We walk carefully from ledge to ledge. Usually you can catch perch along the poles of this old scaffold - today's no different. Together we catch a dozen fish, all about 20 centimetres or about 8 inches. It's beautiful out here. The sailors are still sleeping and the only sound I hear is from the waterfowls. A half an hour later we decide to go to another hot spot. We walk along the first harbour. You can catch some fish out here, but it's better in the wintertime. It's about 3 meters or 10' deep and I didn't have much success in the summertime. Just before the second harbour is a dam, we decide to give it a try. It's strange; usually the perch in this spot exceeds 30cm - but not today. I think I felt a bite, but maybe my steamer touched the bottom.
My favourite spot at the Schildmeer is near the little white bridge. From the lake a small stream runs to a pond. There's a strange flow, which attracts perch. It's partytime out here. In 2 hours I must have caught 25 fish, one after the other. They were not big fish but that's not our goal for today. Ben also caught a lot.
There are more hot spots at the lake, but we are running out of time so we decide to go the place where the channel runs into the lake. This is often a hotspot for perch but today it seems as if all fish have disappeared.
It was still a great fishing day and I will definitely be back soon.

Eddie Bourma
Eddie Bourma

Fishing for big perch out of the floattube

When I'm after really big perch I always use my floattube. The main reason is not because you can't find the big perch along the shoreline, but rather that the pools are not easy to fish from the banks. Sand quarries usually form these pools, which are hemmed in by a lot of trees and shrubs. Wading along the shoreline is possible but has some restrictions. The sand quarries which I have selected are at most 4 meters or 12' deep, simply because I can't go deeper with my Teeny 130. I keep my "Schildmeer speciaal" in my flybox when I'm after the big monsters. For this type of fishing I did a lot of research, like reading a lot about fishing for small- and largemouth bass. After lots of experiments with poppers, zonkers and big wets a fly which looks like a big Crazy Charley seems the best choice. Yellow/White, Yellow/Green, Yellow/Red, Blue/White and Black/Red all do very well.
Because this fly bounces with the hookpoint up over the bottom of the pool obstacles are no problem. The jigging action provokes the perch. When perch are hunting on the surface I start stripping as soon as the fly hits the water. I don't use poppers. I think the fly I use is the best for any water depth.

Big perch live a lonely life

I've never actually noticed if perch have a wind direction preference. You would expect the shore on which the wind blows to be the place to fish, because insects and other food are blown in that direction. I still haven't been able to confirm this. What I do know is that when fishing from a floattube and drifting along the shore it's a pleasant feeling when the wind blows from behind. Should it be necessary, just a few paddles and you're on course again.
The reason I fish the shoreline is because I have no depthfinder at my disposal. Perch can be found in various structures, which means they can also be found along the shoreline. The colour of the water, shallow banks or an old tree lying in the water can all indicate places where one can expect to find big perch. Naturally I often fish these spots.
Big perch live a lonely life. In some cases they live in shoals but I think that this is more the exception than the rule. When I catch small perch I usually relocate after catching a few fish. It's my opinion (and experience) that the big fish never swim near the smaller ones - but let's go fishing now.

Eddie Bourma

What a catch!

It's a windy day and the weather forecast is bad. Naturally this doesn't discourage me. Full of confidence, I launch my floattube in the water. I decide to sail to the opposite side, because the wind is blowing that way. On my way I drag my streamer behind me; you never know. It's quiet out here. The pool seems to be cut-off the outside world and I'm astonished that I don't see hikers or bird-lovers in this beautiful landscape. I start fishing the shoreline with concentrated accuracy. Cast after cast I place my streamer in places where I expect big perch. After an hour I feel an enormous pull on my flyrod. The vibration betrays the size of the perch. It's a beautiful marked fish, 41 centimetres or more than 16 inches long. Splendid, what a catch!
Of course I try to catch another one in this spot but, as expected, it's the only one. I fished nearly the whole eastside of the pool but nothing happens for a while and I decide to cross the pool and try the other side. Starting with the corner, which has been successful so many times before. Immediately after the first cast I've got a hit, but it's not a perch. Noticing it's ceaseless attempts to flee I know it's a pike. I need 5 minutes to land the 71 centimetres or 28 inches long fish. It takes another 2 minutes to take a picture and to release the barbless hook before the fish is back in the water. Fortunately I hooked the fish in front of its mouth; pikes have extremely sharp teeth. A steelwire is a handy tool, but has such a negative influence on the action of the streamer that I decide to take the risk. Besides my stripping is very fast so I hook them almost every time in front of the mouth. Later that day I caught 2 small pikes and another 41cm perch.

Of course there always are days when nothing works out the way you planned. But days like the ones I've described here keep you sharp and definitely make up for the unsuccessful days.

Pattern type: 
Eddie Bouma
TMC 8089, Size 2. I use the model with the nickel finish.
Bead chain
Two colours of bucktail, six strings of crystal flash
Mylar tubing
Very easy
  1. Place the hook into the vice and put some glue/varnish on the hook shank.
  2. Cut off a piece of mylar tubing, matching the length of the hook shank. Place the piece of tube over the shank, and fasten it to the end of the hook, by winding the nylon thread a few times around the shank and secure it with a whip finish knot.
  3. Bind the mylar tubing behind the hookeye, leaving enough space to able to fasten the remaining materials.
  4. Put the eyes on and secure with varnish or superglue.
  5. Turn the hook upside down and tie in a small bundle of bucktail (the light colour) and secure with varnish.
  6. Tie in six strings of pearl crystal flash and secure with varnish.
  7. Tie in another bundle of bucktail (dark colour) and secure with varnish.
  8. Tie off with a whip finish knot and secure with varnish again.
Martin Joergensen
de Schildmeer Speciaal
Pattern type: 
Wet fly
Eddie Bouma
TMC 100, size 8
Bead chain, large
Cactus Chenille
Two strings of pearl crystal flash and red marabou
  1. Fasten the thread behind the hook-eye and attach the eyes (by winding the thread around the bead chain). Secure with varnish or superglue.
  2. Cover the hook with thread, and tie in two strings of clear crystal flash almost same length as hook shaft right at the bend.
  3. Tie in a little red marabou as tail.
  4. Tie in a brown hackle and a string of cactuschenille (I use claret coloured) at the rear end of the hook.
  5. Wind the tying-thread to the hook-eye and cover the hook shank with the cactuschenille.
  6. Fasten the chenille just behind the eyes.
  7. Wind the hackle over the body and secure it just behind the eyes.
  8. Complete with a whip-finish knot and secure with varnish.
Martin Joergensen


Have tried de schildmeer special on lakes in Indiana U.S.A. Haven't caught perch, all I seem to catch are large blue gills and bass. Great fly

Hello. I"m new to lake fly fishing (although fishing trout in streams for 40 years) and I tied several variations of your Schildmeer Special to take my new kayak out to a lake in Western Pennsylvania (U.S.). Perch, Crappie and Blue Gill were all over it! Very nice pattern. For those of you lake fishing for perch and crappie in the U.S., I'm happy to share a few other patterns that were outstanding.

Sorry for the incorrect email:


Eddie Bouma
Eat, Sleep, Fly Fishing!

Thanks for the article, I really enjoyed it. I am new to fly fishing and want to use the method exclusively, I believe it to be much more fun than other methods. I have not caught any perch on the fly yet but I am sure with the advise you give my luck is about to change.

Thanka for the info, I fish a small chalkstream in Dorset UK, mostly for wild brownies, have had the occasional perch by mistake! Will now have a proper go! Jim.

I tied a few of the Speciaal flies and will try them out at our sommer house in the archipelago outside of Stockholm (Sweden), there are some nice perch there. Thank you for a good and inspiring article.

Good article the upside fly is similiar to the blonde series tyed by the late joe brooks,still a good fly goes by #1 rule (K.I.S.S.) Keep it simple stupid,I use a all white one for bass and panfish works great for a slower sink rate I use stick on eyes with hard head head cement over works great.

Martin Joergensen's picture


As far as I know perch have no teeth worth mentioning. When you catch them you lip them like bass - grab their lower lip to lift them - and that doesn't harm you. Their jaws are more like sandpaper, and at least don't have real teeth. I've tried to find a source for this information, pictures or whatnot, on the web, but to no avail.


do perch have teeth at the front of the mouth

Great article and i cannot wait to give it a try!


thanks for the help

Martin Joergensen's picture


We had an error in the system. It's been fixed and the images are there now.


All the pictures, in the article, are missing - what am I doing wrong?

Really enjoyed your article; only I wish Oklahoma perch were like yours ....Our perch are the size of your hand. Yours are like small versions of our large mouth bass. For me the number of them is the most important thing, no fish and I stop fishing. Making a good cast and presantation usualy equals a
fish when the time is right. In Oklohoma the wind is a big factor 10 to 20 MPH is normal and that is a
good day. You should write for a living.

Im glad im not the only one who has realised the fantastic sport perch bring on a fly rod, something i intend to do even more of now ive read this article! I am lucky that in my area of scotland i have plenty waters nearby that contain these fantastic fish

vanuz's picture

my favourite fish also! cannot wait till saturday to give it a try.
By the way...a sport fish? what does that mean?

Nice site!
I have just introduced myself to fly fishing for perch on the river Maas and had a lot more success with the fly than rubber fish, jelly worms etc.
I have found the best fly to be the clouser minnow in chartreuse/white or green/white.


I enjoyed this article greatly.


Great article.
For my better understanding, you shorten the Teeny 130 two meters (i.e. cut 2m tip off)?

Sounds awesome!

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