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Dble Haul 02-25-2004 11:58 AM

Pike leaders- What do you use?
It seems like I'm not the only one here with pike on the brain....

I've had only moderate success using fluorocarbon, but perhaps I'm not using material that's heavy enough. After having a few fish chomp through 30 lb fluoro like it was cobweb on the initial strike, I moved on to something else. Anyone have any experience with fluoro heavier than 30 lb test?

I'm satisfied with Tyger Wire because it's supple enough to tie knots, but strong enough to not get bitten through. My only real concern with this material is the decrease in incidental bycatches of other species. For example, with the fluoro leaders I've had big smallmouth take the pike flies, and I'm certainly not one to turn that kind of action away. But with the Tyger Wire, I've had smallies follow but not commit and in my experience this has everything to do with the leader material. But on the plus side, I don't lose pike.

Can I have my cake and eat it too? Can I use a material that's strong enough for pike teeth, but won't turn off other incidental (and desirable) species? Something tells me that heavier fluoro may be the answer, but I'd like to hear from other pike fans.


SDHflyfisher 02-25-2004 06:19 PM

have you tried any braided lines

peter-s-c 02-25-2004 08:01 PM

I'm just curious if anyone has used ordinary 20 lb. spinning gear wire leaders. Remove the swivel and loop line directly to the leader, then use the snap to easily attach and remove flies. The snap is the only element that adds weight vs. making one's own wire leaders.

I normally use 40 lb. hard mono and I've yet to have a bite-thru but I do have to replace the leader after every fish.

Dble Haul 02-26-2004 08:02 AM

Peter- I have never tried the regular spinning leaders that you speak of. I do suspect that they would be a turn off to other species. As far as hard mono, it's good to hear that you haven't had any bite throughs, but the thought of leader replacement after every fish isn't too appealing.

Don't want much, do I? :rolleyes:

Sean- Braided line just plain sucks for fish with sharp teeth. I think it gives them even more leverage for the bite through. But you're thinking outside the box, and I like that. ;)

Anyone else? Frenchcreek?

BigDave 02-26-2004 08:23 AM

50# Floro

Don't know how big the pike you are catching are, but I've used 50# floro on blues in Boston Harbor with good success. Seems to work well for blues up to 10-12# or so...over that they will bite you off when you put the screws to them.

Stripers don't seem to mind the 50# mid-blitz....maybe pike wouldn't either? The smaller diameter of the Gen 2 Floro might let you get away with a heavier leader without taking too much away from the action of the fly, etc....

Changing floro tippets is a snap with a loop to loop or a surgeons.


John Desjardins 02-26-2004 08:31 AM

Mark, ever try placing all the materials at the rear of the hook & leaving the shank bare as a biteguard? Just trying to get out of the box. Otherwise, I'm using wire like you.

Dble Haul 02-26-2004 08:36 AM

Dave- That's good to hear! Like I said in my initial post, I have a feeling that heavier fluoro is the way to go, and your comments seem to confirm that. The pike aren't wire shy at's the incidental species that are. Thanks for the insight.

John- I've barked up that tree before, and will do so again this spring with some flies like the Keys style that I put in the archive earlier this winter. We were thinking alike on that one. ;)

Good discussion, fellas....:)

flyfisha1 02-26-2004 08:44 AM


Since we never have any control over the size of the next toothy fish that's going to hit (may be a little guy, maybe a railroad tie), it's smart to plan for the big ones, as you point out.

One of the reasons that I came up with that frog-tube fly the other night is that I can retrieve the fly from the surface if the fish cuts the line. It would be great if we could do that with all flies, however the only way to do so is to fish tube-poppers all the time, and that's not realistic. But I digress... Heavy mono is what I've always used, simply for the reason you state: bycatch. Essentially, I tie the shock tippet to the leader with a loop-to-loop, which allows me to have flies pre-rigged and easy to change once the leader has been frayed. The larger the fly is, the heavier the leader material I use. Yes, little fish will often go after a large fly, however just as often you're going to hook into one of his larger relatives, and that's when the heavier leader comes into play. I wonder if coating the leader with Devcon would increase the durability of it? It sure would help the leader sink and straighten it out. BTW - I've used anything up to 50-lb. test as leader material.

peter-s-c 02-26-2004 09:08 AM


Doing the same as you, pre-tying my mono leaders and storing them in large, plastic, divided, tackle storage boxes with the moveable dividers. I notch two dividers and place one in front of the fly and the other at the end of the long compartment, then slip the leader into the notches. keeps the leaders straight and prevents fouling during transport.

FrenchCreek 02-26-2004 10:58 AM

It has been a long time since I had "incidental bass" while pike fishing. We have no bass in Alberta!
When I was back east, many moons ago, I regularily fished for bass & pike and most of my bass flies would be smaller than what I would use for pike.
I'm just wondering if the follower bass are more concerned with the size of the pike fly and its action/movement than with the showing of a leader. I have caught small 24 inch pike with a 15 inch withefish being spit out. With bass, my recollection is that they prefer shorter baits/flies. For pike, I now stay with Tyger wire and occasionally use the snap leaders. I tried very large diameter mono but I hate changing each time and with larger fish, say 18Lbs. or more, they will cut through. Lastly I don't like the action of the fly with such a large mono leader.
My typical leader for still water pike is as follows:
18" of 25 Lb. Ultragreen
24' of 15 Lb. ""
18' of 12 Lb. ""
4 to 6 inch 30 Lb. Tyger with a loop at the end
The I use 15Lb. Tyger to tie the fly and do a loop to loop connection with the leader.
If you think you can't have your cake and eat it too, then buy the bakery!

Dble Haul 02-26-2004 12:27 PM

Pete, the follower bass aren't biting because of the wire leaders. I've had smallmouth take very large pike flies when I'm using fluoro material, and on the same day seen similar fish not commit when using the wire. If this happened just once in a while I'd brush it off as coincidence, but since they do commit to the flies often enough without the wire leaders I think that there is a correlation here.

I don't use small flies when chasing bass. I think that there are many notions out there regarding flies for smallmouth, and one of them is that the flies need to be on the small size (under size 2 or 1/0). When I want to catch smallies, I regularly use flies that are 2/0 or 3/0 and up to 6 inches long.

We'll just have to test some of these leader systems later this year, if ya know what I mean.


Adrian 02-26-2004 10:46 PM

I have had similar thoughts during our CT river April sojurns - wondering what opportunities might have been missed by using wire.

Pike dentition looks a lot like their saltwater cousins - barracuda. and I've had those guys bite through 100lb fluro in less than a minute -- albeit with some pretty impressive aerobatics :D

Maybe pike teeth are not quite so sharp? I'm definitely up for some experimentation this season.

If there is risk of a bite-off the use on non-stainless hooks might be the right thing to do? The freshwater folks probably do this as a matter of course but I have used saltwater patterns in the past and not given the hook much thought.

flyfisha1 02-27-2004 09:19 AM

Adrian, you bring up a very good point regarding SS hooks and the break-off potential. I hadn't thought of that before, though it seems so obvious.

robow7 03-01-2004 12:18 AM

So those of you that use the heavy fluoro line 40 lb and up for a leader, how long is your leader of this stuff and do you tie directly to your fly line via perfection loop and then to your fly? Do any of these fluro seem tougher or have better abrasion resistance than others?

Adrian 03-01-2004 07:34 AM

For toothy critters in Fresh or Saltwater I use a shock tippet of wire or heavy fluro rather than a full leader. These are usually about 12 inches long and attached to a bimini twist in the the 'class tippet' via a huffnagle or albright knot. I attach the shock tippet to the fly with a no-slip loop knot.

For a great reference on knots and rigging leaders check out Practical Fishing Knots by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh.

Fluro does seem to vary quite a bit. I've used sci-anglers brand for most of these applications. For regular tippet material up to 20lb I like the stuff Rio puts out.

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