Tooth & Nail

A Pair of Pike Flies That Can Take a Beating

By Mark Dysinger

Author and pike - The author - Mark Dysinger - with a pike, which readily take flies like the Prince of Pike or the Poxy Bunny.
Author and pike
Two Prince of Pikes - The Prince of Pike is a long fly
Two Prince of Pikes
Northern pike are one of my favorite fish to chase with a fly. The only real drawback to this type of fishing is the rate at which the fish tear through flies with their sharp teeth. When the bite is on, it's not unusual to see several nice flies get chewed up beyond recognition and practical utility. While its fun to see the destructive nature of these predators, having pike shred your offerings cuts into fishing time by requiring the frequent replacement of damaged flies.

In the interest of durability, I have come to tie pike flies that use few natural materials such as bucktail, deer hair, and hackle. In my opinion, these components just don't last long enough after assaults by toothy fish. Instead, I tend to incorporate synthetics that lend themselves to flies that not only last longer, but still have great action in the water and will grab the attention of Mr. Esox.

Heir Apparent

For shallow waters, I use a fly that is modeled after Flip Pallot's Prince of Tides. This fly is well known to most saltwater flyfishers because of its wonderful combination of realism and utility. By having the materials tied in so that the hook point rides up, it can be worked through serious cover without fear of snagging. This feature has definite appeal in pike fishing, where vegetation, wood, and rock are par for the course.

Flip's pattern is tied with a wing of bucktail, which doesn't last long with sharp teeth. He does over wrap the belly flash with hard mono, lending a great deal of durability to that area, but using mono seriously limits the choices of belly color because it only shows the flash underneath.

The Prince of Pike takes Flip's pattern into a realm of durable synthetics and a wider selection of belly colors. Flat tinsel is tied on the shank, but instead of over wrapping this flash with mono I over wrap it with Larva Lace body material. This artificial material comes in a wide variety of colors, and is quite pliable. The material must be stretched and wrapped onto the hook tightly; if not, it will remain bulbous and be susceptible to damage by pike teeth. By using different combinations of flat tinsel and Larva Lace material, you can create a wide assortment of color variations for the belly without losing toughness.

Long flies - The Prince of Pike is almost all \
Long flies

Super Hair

There are many artificial fibers on the market, but I have really come to like Super Hair for its combination of durability and suppleness. Other artificial hairs have more action, but they are finer, wispier, weaker, or a combination of all three. By using Super Hair as the wing material, this pattern can catch many pike before succumbing to their dentures. A touch of Icelandic sheep hair on top of the Super Hair wing gives a nice hint of fluidity in the water. Although this natural hair isn't as tough as the synthetics, I believe it to be one of the more robust natural fibers available. I use Krystal Flash in the wing because it's sturdier than other flash materials like Angel Hair or Flashabou.

It's a good idea to keep a small comb handy when fishing this fly. The fibers can become tangled after being taken by a fish, and a small comb brushes them back into shape quite easily. In order to reduce fouling and tangles from repeated casting, the pattern is not tied heavily. Besides, a fly that is overdressed with synthetic hairs can be a real bear when it gets tangled in the mouth of a large fish. In such a case, getting the hook barb free may be easier than untangling the hairs from the fish's teeth.

Mark Dysinger - The author casting for pike
Mark Dysinger
Prince of Pike - The business end of two Prince of Pike flies.
Prince of Pike
Prince of Pike
TypePike fly
Mark Dysinger
Target species

HookDai-Riki #810 or equivalent, size 3/0
BellyLarva Lace body material over flat tinsel
UnderwingSuper Hair
Wing flashKrystal Flash
WingSuper Hair
OverwingIcelandic sheep hair
Head5 minute epoxy

Tying instructions
  1. With the hook in the vise, start the mono a third of the shank behind the hook eye. From this position, secure the flat tinsel and Larva Lace material. Wrap the tinsel to the hook bend and back, maintaining even layers of the material. Secure with a few wraps and trim the excess.
  2. Pull the Larva Lace material so that it lays flat across the top of the hook shank, right on top of the tinsel. Tightly secure the material to the shank with mono wraps that start from the tie in point and go to the hook bend and back. From there, take the remaining free Larva Lace material at the hook bend and tightly wrap forward to the tinsel tie off point behind the hook eye. Secure with several strong wraps of mono, and trim the excess.
  3. Invert the hook in the vise so that it lays hook point up and with the shank at a slightly elevated angle. This will help to keep the wing materials above the plane of the belly (tinsel and Larva Lace material) when they are tied in. This is necessary to keep the fly riding hook point up in the water.
  4. Tie in a sparse underwing of Super Hair just ahead of the tie off point for the tinsel and Larva Lace material. To ensure a tapered appearance to the fly, stagger the hair fibers and then trim one end flush. Tie the Super Hair in by the flush end. Add a layer of Krystal Flash on top of the underwing, and then add another sparse layer of tapered Super Hair. I tend to make this layer a different color than the first. With all wing materials, ensure that they are tied in and secured above the belly of the fly.
  5. Top the entire wing off with some sparse Icelandic sheep hair. This can be of the same color as the second layer of Super Hair, or of a slightly contrasting color. Don`t overdo the sheep hair; you want enough for movement in the water, but not so much that it makes the fly too heavily dressed. Once the hair is tied in, whip finish the mono. The tying portion is now complete.
  6. Add your favorite prismatic or 3D eyes and seal the head area with some five minute epoxy. If the finished fly isn`t tapered to your preference, complete the process with scissor work to the wing materials.

Note: In the interest of preventing fouling of the wing materials during casting and fishing, a light coat of Softex can be applied to the upper wing between its tie in point behind the hook eye and the bend of the hook itself.

Eyes and rabbit - The Poxy Bunny is dominated by large eyes and a long rabbit strip as a body and tail
Eyes and rabbit
Ready to release - Bert Cyr ready to release a beautiful pike.
Ready to release

Rascally Rabbit

While the Prince of Pike has a definite niche in relatively shallow waters, there are times when the pike hold in areas that are out of that fly's practicality. Enter the Poxy Bunny, a pattern that drives the water wolves nuts when they are holding in intermediate depths. This is another fly that takes the abuse of sharp teeth by utilizing synthetics. It also incorporates one of the most durable natural materials that I know of, rabbit hide strips. Magnum zonker strips have a very seductive wiggle in the water, and they can also take an impressive amount of harm. I have yet to encounter a pike that can completely chomp through one of these large pieces of hide, although some have shown signs of wear over a day's worth of fishing.

The Poxy Bunny has a magnum zonker strip tail that is approximately twice as long as the hook shank. A wire loop guard at the hook bend helps to prevent fouling of the tail during casting. The main body of the pattern is entirely synthetic: sparkle braid under epoxy. This combination allows the glistening braid to subtly shine through a tough outer shell. Dumbbell eyes ensure that the fly sinks well and rides with the hook point up. It should also be noted that I tie this fly on saltwater hooks because they are tougher and the added weight helps to get the fly down in the water column.

I prefer to use red thread with this pattern. Regardless of the main color of the fly, the head in front of the eyes will always show red under the epoxy, and I firmly believe that a little bit of red in pike flies goes a long way. In addition, I always use pearl sparkle braid. After it's tied in and prior to epoxy application, I can color it with sharpies or highlighters to match or contrast with the color of the zonker tail, or leave it as is to match a white tail. These two points are personal preferences only, and your mileage may vary.

Rear platform - Author\'s friend Bert Cyr presents a pike on the rear platform of great boat for flyfishing for pike.
Rear platform
Summer pike - Mark Dysinger with a nice pike.
Summer pike

At first glance, this fly pattern may appear to be a bit unwieldy. Keep in mind that the zonker tail sheds water very quickly, usually with the first back cast. Also, the body is sealed by epoxy and will not absorb any water at all. These features make the pattern quite manageable. I do most of my pike fishing with a nine weight outfit, which handles this pattern just fine. In a pinch, I've also gone down to an eight weight and had no problems to speak of.

Poxy Bunnies - Quite a handful: three Poxy Bunny flies - large flies for pike
Poxy Bunnies
Wire loop - The wire loop keeps the long rabbit strip on the Poxy Bunny from swinging down and around the hook bend.
Wire loop
Poxy Bunny
TypePike fly
Mark Dysinger
Target species

Hook#9034 saltwater or equivalent, 3/0
Thread3/0 red
Tail guardWire loop
TailMagnum zonker strip
UnderbodySparkle braid
Head/overbody5 minute epoxy

Tying instructions
  1. Fasten the hook in the vise and start the thread about one third of the hook shank behind the eye. Secure the dumbbell eyes with x-wraps and several thread turns around the base of the x-wraps.
  2. Bend a short piece of wire to form a loop, and secure the loop to the top of the hook shank towards the bend with a series of thread wraps. Place a smooth layer of flexcement or equivalent on the wraps that secure the eyes and wire loop guard.
  3. Prepare a magnum zonker strip that is twice the length of the hook shank by tapering the end to a point in the hide. Place the strip hide side up on the shank and just behind the eyes. Secure the strip with a series of tight thread wraps, and finish with the thread back near the hook bend. Place a smooth layer of flexcement or equivalent over the wraps that hold the zonker strip to the hook.
  4. Tie in the end of a strand of sparkle braid at the rear tie in point of the zonker strip and advance the thread forward to just behind the eyes. Wrap the sparkle braid forward over the tied in portion of the zonker strip, tie off, and trim any excess.
  5. Advance the thread ahead of the eyes. Build up a thread head and whip finish. If you wish to color the sparkle braid with a sharpie or highlighter, do so now.
  6. To complete the fly, lightly coat the sparkle braid and head area with 5 minute epoxy. Use the epoxy to taper the head as necessary.

Pike fishing on Global FlyFisher

Bunny Split - rabbit tail pike fly
Tooth and Nail - flies for pike  <<< You are here
The Splayed-A-Live Pike Fly - a tarpon fly goes pikey
A one foot fly amidst the lily pads - Ad Swier's pike story
Salty pike in Sweden - pike in the salt
Pike bite tippets - stuff to widthstand toothy beasts
Tandem fly for pike - a beautiful Dutch fly
The Tinsel Fly - a universal killer
Valeur's Pike Streamer - flash galore
Monster Muddler - Deerharius gigantus

Pike fishing on the web

Pike Hunters - a Swedish/Danish group of fly fishers specializing in pike fishing in the ocean.
Ad Swier - Dutch pike fisher and artist.
Partridge pike hooks - Ad Swier's and the John Holden hook
Hardy Pike Teaser - Hardy's Ad Swier designed special rod for pike fishing. Unfortunately Hardy removed their web page on the rod.

User comments
From: chic springett · chicspringett·at·  Link
Submitted August 13th 2010

thanks for the patterns... will give them a try and let u know how i get on

From: Nick · nick·at·  Link
Submitted May 6th 2009

Nice clean patterns. They look like they'd shrink down to worm-like shapes when wet though. For big pike I found, girthy flies get their attention more often than skinny flies.

Just a tip. ;-)

From: Jerry · jstorrs·at·  Link
Submitted October 8th 2008

Always looking for new flies for pike. I have been after the toothie ones for 5 years now. Here in the Finger Lakes Region of NYS. Pike fishing is picking up once again. I will make these flies and give them a try.

From: stuart Duke · paul_stduke·at·  Link
Submitted April 24th 2006

Fly fishing for pike is starting to become very popular in the uk.We are getting a little bored with catching those stocked rainbows ! Pike have fascinated me since i was a little boy and i cant wait to get started ! Also , my eyesight is not very good, so tying up much bigger flies for pike will be much better for me.
Thank you very much for your most interesting article.

Best wishes
Stuart Duke

From: opettersson · flyzone13·at·  Link
Submitted September 28th 2005

Nice article...and nice flies.


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