Written by: Mike Lembke, Wollaston Lake Lodge
Over the last 25 years of chasing giant pike with a fly rod, I’ve learned a lot about what makes these creatures tick. I spent the first nine of those years as a fishing client of my favorite place and now the last 16 as owner and operator, so I’ve spent hours trading ideas with my guides, and others who visit, on what makes a good pike fly. Our test labs are the waters of northern Saskatchewan, specifically at Wollaston Lake Lodge.
A great pike fly must have a few key characteristics. First it must catch fish consistently throughout the water column. It needs to be neutrally buoyant for the most part, so you can park it right in front of a pike’s face and make her take it. Next, the fly has to be tough enough not to be destroyed by a few fish and requiring a re-tie. This is one factor many may argue against. You won’t see a lot of beautiful feathers, marabou, hackle, and other natural materials. Although flies made with these materials certainly can catch fish, they just don’t’ last. The last thing you want to happen is you miss out on a 46-inch pike because the 36-incher you just landed destroyed your fly. The list of flies below can withstand the punishment.
So, after many hours of discussion, trial and error in fly design, and destruction, we have come up with our Top 10 Flies for Northern Pike.
[Click the name of each fly to be taken to a place to buy, a recipe, or a video.]
1. Chip’s Northern Magic
Designed by a pike guide with 30 years’ experience, Dwayne “Chip” Cromarty, this fly is the number one go-to pattern of all flies we have tried. A simple bucktail collar and fish-hair body make an incredible fly that has caught thousands—yes, you read that correctly, thousands—of big pike over 40 inches.
2. Chip’s Monster Magic
Years in development and proven to keep the little guys off, this fly is a continuation of the “Magic” series by Chip Cromarty and has earned its place in the top ten by producing giant pike. The light material and huge profile are friendly to both the fish and fisherman.
3. Barry’s Baitfish 2.0
This pattern was introduced to us years ago by Barry Reynolds and then refined by us. This little guy is deadly in clear-water situations and is tough enough to withstand the punishment of several fish without being replaced.
4. Poor Man’s Whistler
Originally designed by Dan Blanton for saltwater use and now adapted for ours, the Whistler offers a slightly deeper presentation. For those times those big pike are holding in the 3- to 5-feet-deep, this one delivers.
5. Pike Bunny
Believe it or not, pike hold on the bottom at times. We’ve seen them burying their head into the soft bottom to dig out small creatures and leeches for a snack. This bunny-fur pattern mimics the swimming leech and rings the dinner bell for the sometimes lethargic fish. Although it’s not always a joy to cast, it can be very effective.
6. Phil’s Li’l Purple Dude
A simple variation of the EP tarpon streamers, this little fuzzball entices those finicky pike that aren’t looking for a big meal but can’t resist the temptation of an easy baitfish. Using EP Fibers and a hint of flash, this baitfish pattern is a quick five-minute tie.
This one is just a simple pattern, with incredible action and neutral buoyancy, that big pike love.
8. Lefty’s Deceiver
The classic baitfish imitation can be tied in many sizes and colors.
Various topwater flies can be effective. Making a splash and sound is the key to attracting the water wolf when they are feeding on swimming prey. Frogs, mice, and ducks all work.
10. Half and Half
When you need to go deep, this fly is the ticket. Taking the best from Lefty’s Deceiver and Clouser’s Deep Minnow, the Half and Half provides a baitfish profile with a seductive jigging action.
Mike Lembke is the owner and operator of Wollaston Lake Lodge in northern Saskatchewan.