What does it take to change the habits of a lifetime for an angler? In the case of Building Bridges volunteer Krzysztof Kaszuba, it was a case of love at first bite as soon as he got over initial challenges and caught his first pike on the fly. In this latest guest blog post, he tells us about his exciting journey from novice to pike fly addict.
“A couple of years ago, when someone asked if I was into fly fishing, my answer was NO! It’s not for me, I thought. I couldn’t stand all the effort to cast a fly. The super expensive tackle I thought I would have to buy was not encouraging either. Well, ask me now and the answer would be the opposite! I only wish I knew earlier how wrong I was.
My fly-fishing adventure started in Sweden, on a fishing trip organised by the Wild Society App. For the first two days I was doing my usual thing, casting average size soft lures and pulling fish after fish. At the end of the second day I’d changed boats and joined my friend Vittorio- which was great, as I could try a bit of this new method, fly fishing for pike. Only a short time later I had my lure rod back in my hand, as it was very frustrating not being able to cast and catch fish. I now believe it is this stage when the most anglers are put off, as this kind of thinking gets into their mind.
Learning how to cast a fly for pike: from frustration to breakthrough!
In the evening at our lodge, Marco- the owner of the Pesca In Svezia and our guide asked me how my fly-fishing trial went. The answer was still the same: it’s not for me! However, I also had that feeling that I had never spent enough time with my new fly rod and did not do the essential things to catch my first fish on the fly. So, the next day I decided to give it another try and keep at it. I also decided to leave my lure rods in the lodge, just in case I was tempted to switch rods again!
After that whole time, I think It was important to change the way of my thinking, basically to concentrate on casting rather than catching fish. It took me a few hours to get comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I was sending my fly the appropriate distance and one great thing is that pike don’t require super long casting. Maybe one in fifty casts was how it supposed to be at first, and that first proper cast when everything is perfect, what can I tell you? WHAT A FEELING! It is all about the connection between yourself and the line, and it almost felt like my arms were extended and I had this effortless control over the fly, JUST WOW. I’d had that breakthrough moment.
My first pike on the fly
It didn’t take long before I had my first pike on the hook. Unfortunately, I was trying to set the hook like you do with the lure rod, which is a completely different way to do it! To set the hook in pike’s mouth you need to pull the line very hard, rather than lifting the rod.
I think this first contact was the turning point for me. I felt this great feeling and I wanted more. Soon after I lost my first fish, I had another chance and landed my first pike. It was only a small one, but it didn’t matter as it was my first pike caught on a fly rod!
Pike fly fishing in the UK: what tackle do I need?
After my return from Sweden, I’d now caught the bug. I didn’t want to catch pike on any other method except fly-fishing! Hence, I started to look for further information about how to continue my fly-fishing adventure back at home. The lines, reels, rods, tippets and much more needed to be sussed out. At first it was overwhelming and seemed to be very expensive too. With the Wild Society App on my phone though, I knew I could find someone to help me. It was then that I came across with Stuart Smith, a professional fly tyer and pike fishing guide, but most importantly of all, a great person with loads of enthusiasm and experience!
Very often in fly-fishing, the line seems to be the most expensive item you will need to get. The line determines the size of the fly that we can cast, the depth that we will be fishing and of course the distance we can cast. Regarding the reel, it’s only there to hold the line, like a pistol magazine rather than the thing that fires the shots. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive and if it takes 30-50 meters of backing and the line- it will be more than enough.
Rods must match the line weight and in simple terms to help the beginners, for example, a 9wt line should go with the 9wt rod (and a nine weight is a good all round outfit for pike of all sizes). Again, it doesn’t have to be an expensive model. I used a rod which cost around £30 at the very beginning. It allowed me to practice the casting and catching of fish, which was enough to begin with. Now my prefered setup is an 8wt rod with 8wt sink 5 line (i.e. this sinks 5 inches per second) and a 7wt rod with 7wt floating line to fish top water. Of course, set ups vary and you need a rod that will take some serious stick, because you want to play fish quickly. Your choice could also depend on the setting though- the size of flies and your typical pike. The flies I use are not that big, these usually vary between 5-7 inches.
Another optional but important piece of tackle is the stripping basket, which helps to protect and prevent your line from tangles around your feet. You can buy one for less than £20. If you don’t have one though, your landing net will help catch the line if you put it down by your feet!
Stuart did not only explain to me the tackle I should use but showed me how to tie a simple and effective pike fly. Fly tying is simpler than it looks, especially with the big, loud flies used for pike. It is also very rewarding and could save money because these flies can be expensive.
A true fly for pike convert!
So, after learning so much and fishing a lot more on the fly I have never looked back? Why am I so hooked now, you ask? Well, for one thing, the feeling when you land a big pike on your own fly is one of those moments you will never forget. It is also such an amazing and very different experience to other methods. In fact, I would say that fly fishing took my pike fishing to another dimension!
I would fully recommend this great way of fishing to anyone who has the opportunity to try it. In fact, I am sure that after landing your first pike on the fly, YOU WILL NOT LOOK BACK!
Here is the biggest pike I’ve caught so far on a fly tied by myself. It doesn’t get any better than this! Hopefully I can inspire at least one person to try fly fishing. If you have any questions about the fly fishing, though, you are more than welcome to contact me on my Facebook or Instagram profile: Kris_K_Fishing. Tight lines everyone! ”