River pike top tips 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Matt Roberts angling success is fuelled by his addiction and passion for pursuing predatory fish on the fly, this was instilled from a young age and has since grown into an obsession. Matt has caught a varied range of species in both fresh and saltwater from around the world. Matt is based in the South East of England and his true passion is targeting specimen Pike in Europe.

Find him on Instagram matt_fly_fisher_ Roberts

Basic set-up

I start by selecting either my 9wt Q or Cross SW (MF) and a selection of spools loaded with a slow sinking specialist pike fly-lines (the Marauder intermediate and intermediate / Sink 3). The 9wt is a powerful rod that allows me to cast relatively large flies over a reasonable distance with considerable accuracy, and also has enough backbone to tackle large specimens quickly, without putting them under unnecessary stress. If only it kept flies out of trees…


The rig

The standard set-up I opt for is 4-6 feet of reliable 20lb fluorocarbon, looped to the fly-line with a Bimini Twist or other strong loop knot, with a small swivel tied to the other end. Attached to the swivel is at least 18 inches of tough 80lb, 0.80mm, kastking durablend monofilament leader, with a quick clip at the sharp end, allowing for quick fly changes, especially after takes where the fly is engulfed and mangled. A quick clip also allows the fly to swing loosely while it is in action, so enhancing its movement in the water. The short leader enabled me to count down the fly-line to the required depth and keep in control of the fly, so that I can feel any takes.



Quick clips allow for a speedy fly change
Q 990 perfect for small/medium sized rivers


Knowing that pike are lazy and don’t like expending lots of energy feeding when they could be picking off an easy target instead, I decide that my tactics would need to cater for that ambush mentality. My aim is therefore to fish the fly as slowly and enticingly as possible, searching eddies and places where the pike can sit out of the river’s main flow and target unsuspecting baitfish. On several especially cold mornings in the past, I would find many pike I caught on cold days with leeches on them, which suggested they had been passing time, sat on the bottom. My approach was therefore to try and fish the fly as close to the bottom as possible. I would try to imagine the fly enticingly tickling the pike’s nose as I retrieved it; inducing a take any… moment…now. This meant a slow retrieve, with plenty of pauses; but not so slow that the fly snags the bottom –  it’s a fine balance.

Fish care

Respect your quarry – When handling big pike, be sure to use a firm chin grip to prevent damage to you and the fish; don’t forget your unhooking mat, large rubber mesh net, long forceps and wire cutters. Remember they should be handled carefully and revived properly before release (hold the fish until it is ready to swim away).

These pike are hard fighters watch out for snags
A very slow retrieve on a winters day
Small water with large fish