Our Man In Canada
November 12th, 2001

Pike on "Dry Flies"

By Clive Schaupmeyer
From Fly Fishing Canada, Published by Johnson Borman Publishers

Pike eat primarily below the surface, but at times floating flies provide exciting top-water action. This is more likely to happen when the sun is low, which for most of us is toward sunset versus early morning.

Calm water are generally best, but if it's choppy, pike will often strike floating flies that make lots of noise. Poppers with flat-faced heads are recommened as they make an audible "sploosh" when stripped.

Floating pike flies have two basic parts: a body-tail section and a foam head. The 5-8" (13-20-cm) body-tail consists of a few strands of feathers, frayed yarn, and synthetic hair or similar willowy material. If tying your own, use yellow, chartreuse or orange body materials, and highlight it with gold, pearl or silver flash strands. Local experience may dictate other color combinations. Dress them lightly to avoid absorbing too much water, which interfers with casting.

Flies are supported in the water by foam heads. They can be purchased from fly shops, or made by punching cylindrical plugs from the type of high-density foam used in knee pads and beach sandals. Use a short section of 0.5" diameter copper or brass tubing, sharpened at one end as a punch. Taper the head with a sharp knife, scissors or coarse sandpaper, and then punch a small hole lengthwise through the head to accept the hook eye.

After securing the body-tail material to the hook, wrap the shank behind the eye with a single layer of yarn and coat it with head cement, Pliobond or Goop, then push the head over the eye and onto the shank. Mount the taper forward for a slider, or flat-face-forward for a popper. Simply leave the head force-fitted, or secure it with a few wraps of thread over the tapered end.

Retrieval techniques are simple: Cast, take up the slack, then strip in a few inches every second or two. Pause occasionaly and let the fly sit for several second. Vary the timing, speed and distance of each strip until you find a productive combination.

One clear advantage of floating flies is they can be tossed into small openings where weedless, sinking flies won't work. It can sit and be twitched, then slowly retrieved in clearings no larger than a bathtub. If they ignore your floating slider, try a larger pattern, a different color, or a noisy popper.

Author Clive Strikes can be awesome - a pike may take you by complete surprise by leaping clear of the water to grab your fly on the way up or down. Most strikes are less spectacular, but still rather startling. A Pike may approach from behind or the side; then its body will half emerge the instant it attacks. There there are those heart-arresting attacks that start several feet away . . .The water swells up from stage left and a wave races toward your fly. It's hard not to pull the fly away from these aggressive attacks, but delay striking by simply raising the rod. Most pike will get hooked on their own - or not. ~ Clive

Pike Chowder
Drives away winter chills
(Makes four servings)

1 lb - boneless pike, cubed - 500 g

4-6 slices bacon, diced

1 onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

2 potatoes, diced

1 tbsp - fresh tarragon - 15mL
or 1 tsp - dried tarragon - 5 mL

4 bay leaves

4-6 cups - milk - 1,500mL

1 cup - kernel corn - 250mL

Pinch - cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Beurre manie* or bread slices

Fresh chopped chives, garnish

Optional - diced mushrooms, celery, carrots or squash

    1. Saute bacon, onions and red pepper in a stock pot. Add potatoes, tarragon, bay leaves and milk. Simmer until potatoes are nearly done.

    2. Add corn; simmer 5 minutes. Add cubed pike and cayenne pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and discard.

    3. Thicken chowder with buerre manie and garnish with fresh chopped chives. If preferred, mushrooms, celery, carrots, squash or other vegetables may be added.

    *Buerre manie: Equal amounts of softened butter and flour creamed together. About 3 tbsp (45mL) of each should be sufficient. If preferred, rather than beurre manie, you may place a thick slice of bread in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle chowder over it. ~ Wayne Phillips

Fly Fishing Canada For more on fishing pike, see Clives series: Fly-fishing for Prairie Pike, in our From Canada section.

Credits: From Fly Fishing Canada, From Coast to Coast to Coast By Outdoor Writers of Canada, Published by Johnson Gorman Publishers. We appreciate use permission!

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