Anglers often associate Colorado with it’s pristine trout streams and high alpine lakes full of eager trout, but underestimate other aquatic inhabitants. An angler can devote their life to mastering the light tippets and delicate presentations required for trout. Nothing wrong with that. Diversifying the species you target helps to push anglers to work on different techniques. Targeting Pike on the fly helps to improve your distance and casting form. If you’ve ever Pike fished, you understand that hours of casting large flies and heavy rods outweigh the amount of fish you hook. Stripping the fly line until deep grooves form on your trigger finger. Honestly, fly fishing for Pike is not the easiest species to chase; although we continue to chase these elusive fish. Is it for the chance of hooking a trophy fish? Maybe it’s the thought of chasing the top dog of the lake. For me, it’s chasing a fish that I may or may not meet. It’s the challenge that gives me the motivation to continue casting in the worst conditions. Every pike that I land I can’t help but wonder how nature has perfected a true freshwater predator.
Pike are exceptionally picky. Nothing quite gets the heart pumping like getting your fly stalked by a shadow all the way up to your feet. After awhile though, it becomes rather frustrating dancing with a skeptical pike that decides last minute to bolt into the deep. The only thing you can really do is change up your fly and strip faster. Stripping the fly line as fast as you can until you are able to spot your fly just a few feet in front of you. The best part is when you see the glistening white mouth open up inhaling your streamer. There’s a moment between seeing the eat and actually feeling it, where your brain is telling you to relax and gear up because it’s about to be chaotic. And then the line comes tight. Attempting to get the line under control while applying a solid hook set is when reality sets in. It feels as if you’ve snagged a submerged rock, but the fish takes a hard turn ripping out line as it dives deep confirming your in for a battle. You never quite understand the true power of a pike until your ultra-fast action 8 weight is bent far beyond you could imagine. The best part is you think you’re in control, but what you fail to realize is that the fish has home field advantage. Pike are smart. They understand that to fool an overconfident angler they must drive you deep in the marshy weeds where they find a way to slip your fly. If you’re able to steer the pike away from the underwater hazards, you at least have a fighting chance. It’s not every trip that you land one, but it sure does feel good when you do. You can’t help but shake uncontrollably from landing that fish because it’s truly incredible. Even better is getting to watch that fish swim away giving you a little shower as it slowly disappears to the deep.
If you ask anyone who targets pike on the fly, they will tell you specific patterns and color variations that are tried and true. To me, it’s not about the color or size of the flies but how they appear in the water. It’s all about the presentation to the fish. Many anglers prefer smaller flies for certain times of the year but the articulated flies are a necessity. Tying your own articulated flies help to ensure the presentation of the fly appears the way that you want it. Adding additional materials or heavier materials to different sides of the fly gives the fly more of a struggling fish appeal to pike. That’s what I strive for. Make your fly appear as an easy meal to the fish and the number of hookups will increase. Remember it’s presentation over fly selection.
If there is one thing you get from this article it’s that pike on the fly is challenging but it’s rather rewarding when you finally get that fish. Not every outing is going to produce fish but pushes yourself to better your skills. Throw that extra ten feet of line. Straighten your casting arc. You’ll be surprised by your cast the next time you go trout fishing.
After living out on the front range of Colorado, Troy felt the need to further his education in the Roaring Fork valley where he has access to some of the most pristine rivers in the west. He spends his off season months attending school and fishing the Roaring Fork, the Frying Pan, and the Colorado River. He spend his summer months guiding for Minturn Anglers in the Vail valley. Even though he hasn’t been in the high country for long, he considers the Vail and Roaring Fork valley’s to be his home waters. There’s something special that keeps bringing him back!