Messy Pike Fly
Large, colorful, voluminous - just the kind of fly a large pike will like
This fly is not one of my typical pike flies. For that it is way too complex and has too many tying steps and too many different materials. I don't like complex pike flies. I spend dozens of minutes tying one, and a pike spends seconds shredding it!
But this one serves a purpose: It's a big, voluminous and flashy fly, which is still fairly easy to cast, and in spite of the amount of material it is not as prone to hooking itself as some of my other material-rich pike flies.
The pattern was sparked by a summer of excellent pike fishing. A couple of the guys that I fish with and I have been fishing a small lake during what is usually considered the worst time for lake pike: the peak of summer. The air has been scorching, water has been boiling and the algae have been blooming like it is often the case in nutrient-rich lakes in the summer. Usually that means no pike. The fish will tend to be passive, they will seek deeper water, and they won't be able to hunt with their sight. So pike anglers wait out the summer and put their efforts into the autumn, winter and spring months.
We started fishing for summer pike a couple of years ago, and there's no complaining about that. We've had a few skunked trips, but we have also had some fantastic trips. The weather has usually been very pleasant, and our worst problem has been wind - particularly in the late summer months where cloud cover and passing showers often lead to sudden wind shifts.
I think there are a few keys to our success:
- Fishing fairly deep, oftentimes connecting with the bottom
- Fishing large, visible and "noisy" flies
- Knowing the lake and having experience with which spots hold fish
The last point is of course obvious and a bit stupid to point out, but never the less very important. Searching and finding the pike has been a key to the success. After having found them we have subsequently fished the same spot many times, with good luck most times.
We have used Teeny and Rio 300 grain lines on 9wt. rods and I have even used a 750 grains line from Teeny. Not exactly a pleasure to cast, but it gets down!
OK, now, back to the fly. I have previously fished with large muddlers, and have had success with Monster Muddlers on this lake and others. But even though this fly may seem big, it shrinks when it's stuck in the jaws of a 16 lbs. Pike. The flies we have used this year have been bigger and have had more flash and action. I have used some tied with tonnes of artificial hair and flash, but they have an annoying tendency to catch themselves and develop into a large, tangled bunch of material. Not that I think the pike mind, but I do.
In stead of the artificial hair I have returned to the good old bucktail, which is very good for large streamers. It may seem stiff when dry, but it has lots of life once it's wet. Add to that generous amounts of flash and you get a very visible fly. My first experiments had a cone head and not much volume, but I wanted more water to move when the fly was dragged through the murky waters. As a die hard muddler man, I of course chose a deer hair head for that. The line will draw the fly down no matter how buoyant it may become, and actually, a floating fly on a sinking line is not a bad combination at all.
So bucktail, flash and deer hair it was, and the messy part could commence.
In order to keep the flash and hairs from swinging around the hook, I tie in the materials on top of the hook shank. First a bunch of bucktail midshank, then a bunch of flash. Then repeat the process, maybe with some other colors, just for the sake of variation. This part of the fly will fill maybe a third of the hook shank. In front of this you create a large and messy muddler head by tying on several bunches of deer hair and spinning them around the shank. Compress these first hairs a bit and tie in a second bunch. Keep on doing this until there is only room for a whip finish. You can see a more detailed description on tying muddlers in the article Muddler Mania. Don't worry too much about the appearance of the head at this stage. Whip finish, varnish generously and put the fly aside to dry.
Once it's dry it's ready to be trimmed. Don't trim it too close, but let the head be fairly messy and large. Trim it just a bit closer on the bottom of the head in order to clear the tip of the hook.
Arm the fly with a bite tippet made from wire, thick monofilament or whatever you fancy and you are ready to roll.