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Sun. Dec. 17, 10:00 AM ET

Fly Fishing Techniques for Northern Pike

Pike fishing calls for long casts and you need to retrieve all the way back to the boat as many times pike will follow a fly and strike at the last moment. Here Conway “double-hauls” to gain line speed before shooting his cast.

When shooting long casts with lots of line, line management is critical. You need to ensure that lines don’t get tangled on shoes or anything on the deck. Conway prefers to fish barefooted so his line won’t tangle on deck shoes.

At his point of release, all of the line that was at his feet has been fired out through his rod tip. Note how Conway’s rod arm is fully extended to maximize his casting distance.

As he finishes his casting stroke and the line begins to lie down on the water, Conway finishes his cast with his rod tip actually in the water. This keeps the line running straight out from the boat.

A single-handed retrieve is slower but it’s a great way to entice pike that may be trailing and just need a few more subtle twitches to encourage a strike. Try varying your retrieve speed from slow to fast to see what the fish like.

When you need to get a lot of line back into the boat in a hurry, use a two-handed retrieve. Here Conway has simply tucked his rod up under his arm to free both his hands. A two-handed retrieve will also make your fly swim more naturally.

Once you feel that first tug, be ready to strike hard. Like tarpon, pike have a very bony mouth so you really need to hit them hard to set the hook. Big pike may smack a bait, and then turn and strike again, so be ready for second strikes.

Big 12- and 14-wt. rods are called for to take 50-inch pike. Here Conway is putting the heat on a nice Northern. Note how Conway has the rod butt tucked in to his chest in preparation for reeling down on the fish to gain line.

Guide Phil Wiebe with another nice pike brought to hand on a fly. Notice how Phil is holding the pike by its gill plate. Slashing pike can injure hands quickly so you must treat every fish with respect.