Fly fishing for Pike can be insanely thrilling. If you have experience fly fishing for Pike, you’re familiar with their aggressive feeding habits and nasty attitudes. If you don't, imagine a 30lb fish tracking down a 9-inch streamer and charging into the air to engulf it. Pike often encourage some of the most visual eats in the fly fishing world, something every fly angler appreciates.
Big flies, big fish, and big teeth often equate to big rods. It’s no surprise that traditional thinking points the fly angler in the direction of a 9wt fly rod when targeting Pike. A 9wt rod that offers a strong butt section for increased lifting power and a fast action blank design is sort of the ‘go-to’ for Pike anglers. But is the 9wt the best choice in every situation? Not quite.
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Let’s start with the case for a lighter fly rod.
Similar to Bass, Pike vary pretty significantly in size. Smaller Pike are typically 2-6lbs in weight whereas larger Pike reach weights of 30lbs and up. When targeting Pike with a fly rod, however, you can’t always be sure which size class of fish you’re going to hook into.
An 8wt rod handles the larger fish well and allows the angler to get the most out of a smaller Pike. 8wt rods are great if you’re casting floating lines, fishing small streamers or poppers, or targeting Pike in shallow water. A smaller rod allows the angler to cast all day without fatigue that comes with heavier rods and to thread those smaller/medium-sized flies into hard-to-reach places.
Don’t underestimate the power and aggressiveness of smaller Pike, however. Even when fishing an 8wt and a floating line, a rod with a strong butt section for lifting and casting power is important. Fast action rods also make casting streamers/larger flies in all conditions easier. Strong rods allow anglers to fight fish more efficiently which helps when directing Pike around submerged logs or pulling them out of cover.
Another advantage of an 8wt is that it’s a versatile rod. If you’re a Pike angler and a Bass angler or enjoy fishing for Pike and Salmon (in Alaska for example), you’ll get more use out of an 8wt rod than a 9wt or 10wt. Fly rods are expensive, so it’s worth investing in one that you can use for multiple species and in multiple scenarios.
In the same way an 8wt is a versatile rod for multiple species, a 9wt is a versatile rod for Pike. A 9wt allows the angler to present smaller flies in shallow water, but it also allows the angler to fish heavy lines and larger flies. As is typical when taking the middle ground, a 9wt doesn’t cater to either technique superbly, but it allows anglers to do both well.
A 9wt is also lighter than a 10wt. A lightweight rod means it’s easier to cast all day long, especially with heavier lines or large flies. A 9wt rod also has more lifting power for those large fish than an 8wt rod does. The one disadvantage of a 9wt? Smaller Pike and Bass aren’t as sporty and a 9wt isn’t as versatile outside of the Pike sphere.
Upgrading to a 10wt is worthwhile if you’re after trophy Pike, throwing 9-inch streamers, or targeting Pike in deep water. Naturally, if you’re targeting larger fish, a larger rod has more power, increased strength, and increased durability. A larger rod also has the ability to hold a larger reel with stronger drag and increased line pickup. Big fish = big gear and Pike are no exception. If you’re trophy hunting, go with a large rod.
A 10wt rod also casts heavy lines more efficiently. Pike fishing with topwater flies in shallow weed beds is popular, but Pike also spend time in deeper water. Heavy sinking lines are tough to cast on an 8wt or 9wt rod; 8wt and 9wt rods just don't have the backbone or strong butt section to cast heavy lines with ease. The upgrade to the 10wt allows anglers to manage large, heavy lines more easily to maximize casting distance and efficiency.
It also allows the angler to manage large flies more easily, especially in wind. If you find yourself routinely fishing 8” or 9” flies for Pike, an 8wt probably isn’t the most efficient tool to put those flies where you want them - a more powerful rod will help increase casting distance and deliver large flies efficiently in most conditions.
Read 'How to Choose a Fly Rod for Musky' here.
A couple of obvious choices include the Redington Predator, Sage Pike & Musky, Thomas and Thomas Exocett Predator, and the Scott Tidal Musky Pike. Other considerations include the Scott Meridian, Echo EPR, Winston Boron III Plus Jungle, Sage Igniter, T&T Exocett SS, and the G. Loomis Asquith.
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