Pike Fly Fishing: Expert Tips Revealed

Pike are aggressive fish that are more than perfect for fly fishing. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll find the best setup to get you as many fish as your heart desires. Fly fishing can be trickier than traditional fishing, but don’t worry; We have everything you need to know about catching your favorite fish!

When you’re fly fishing for pike, you should use a 30-lb wire leader with a 10wt rod. While a 60-lb wire leader will be more than enough, it can also be a bit overboard for some small fish. Pike are found in slow rivers and shallow grassy water in the Northern US, Canada, Asia, and Europe.

In this post, we’ll break down all of the expert tips you need to know about pike fly fishing, including what you need, where you should go to find the most pike, how you catch them, and more. We’ll also explain how you can set up a fly rod for pike. Enjoy!

Pike fly fishing can be challenging but very rewarding.

How Do You Catch Pike on Fly?

To catch a pike on a fly fishing line, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Determine the season, location, and desired size before casting your line. Pike swim deeper when it’s warm and shallower when it’s cold. Older pike tend to go much deeper and hang out in the middle of a river, whereas younger, smaller pike will stay near the shallow shore.
  2. Pike put up a fight, so you’ll have to play give and take until they tire themselves out before trying to land the fish. They’re an aggressive fish that will be problematic if you’re in a hurry. Once you get a bite, it’s important to be patient and not try to horse the fish in.
  3. Consider using a sinking tip or intermediate line to get down to bigger fish in deeper water. According to Orvis, using a sinking tip can make it much quicker to catch a pike while fly fishing, especially in deep water.
  4. Be prepared for aerial acrobatics. Many pike will jump, similar to tarpon, so you want to be prepared for a jump so you don’t lose the fish. Fish that jump tend to be known for shaking a hook. Releasing tension on the line by lowering the rod tip to the water during a jump, will keep the hook from pulling loose. 
  5. Reel in the pike, remove the hook, and weigh or release it. Much like fly fishing for any other fish, it’s time to reap the rewards of your labor. Pike usually don’t weigh more than 10 pounds, so you can pick them up and handle them with ease. Make sure you quickly release it if you fly fish for sport.
Pike swimming in deep water.

What Is Needed to Fly Fish for Pike?

To fly fish for pike, you’ll need a 20-lb to 65-lb wire leader, a 7-to-8-inch neutral-colored fly, and a 7wt to 10wt fast-action fly fishing rod. When the water isn’t too warm, you can use a floating line to catch the pike. However, a sinking line is necessary during hot summer months since pike tend to swim a bit lower in the water.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of what you should have in your gear setup:

  • Pike require a 20-lb to a 65-lb wire leader. You’ll find a wide range of preferences when it comes to the perfect wire leader for pike fly fishing, but the general consensus is that 30-lb is often the ideal selection for most pike.
  • You should use a 10wt fast-action rod to catch a pike while fly fishingYellow Dog Fly Fishing recommends a 10wt rod because it’s enough to handle a pike without going overboard. Furthermore, you can catch pike of all sizes without having to upgrade your fly fishing rod if you head to a deep river.
  • Use a fly between five to eight inches long. Being that pike are aggressive eaters, it is important to get their attention. Large flies that are stripped quickly will rarely go unnoticed. Moving the fly quickly will gain a reaction strike without much hesitation. Pike prefer neutral colors, such as dull-white, dark green, dark brown, and so on. Remember, it’s always best to use a color and size that are naturally found in the fish’s habitat. In addition to varying colors, a mix of both heavy sinking flies and sub surface flies should be carried. 
Catching pike when fly fishing requires a very specific setup from rod to leader.

How Do You Set Up a Pike Fly Rod?

To set up a pike fly rod, you should start by hooking your wire tippet to your main leader. The piece of wire only needs to be around 12” long. The fly will be attached directly to the wire leader. Using a knottable wire will make tying knots to the fly and main leader much easier than traditional wire. When fishing deep water, the use of a intermediate or sinking line is advisable. Having a spare spool with a sinking line will make switching lines very quick and give you more versatility in covering various water columns. 

Do you prefer video guides? If so, review this helpful tutorial by North 40 Fly Shop on YouTube:

Where Can You Fly Fish for Pike?

You can fly fish for pike in the Northern United States, including New York, New England, Minnesota, and the surrounding regions. Pike also live in parts of Canada, Europe, Siberia, Asia, and other northern cold countries. They’ll swim lower when it’s warm, so you might have to use a sinking line with the fly.

Outdoor Canada explains that pike don’t migrate south to get warmer; Rather, they head toward shallow, narrow bodies of water to stay comfortable. There are plenty of grassy lakes and rivers for pike to swim through until the summer returns, making the northern parts of the US and Canada an ideal environment for any pike.

When pike get hungry and live close to one another during the colder months, they can become cannibalistic. You might not get as many bites during the winter, but it’s still worth trying!


Now that you know everything about fly fishing for pike, you’re ready to head out to the Northern waters and catch as much as you please. Pike are elusive and small, but using the proper fishing equipment and techniques can make them much easier to handle. Remember to follow their swimming patterns to know where to go next. Good luck!