It’s hard to believe fly purists once looked down on northern pike as unworthy of pursuit, because catching a pike, especially a big one, on a fly rod is a true thrill. It’s very effective, too—a fly suspends, shimmers and seductively undulates in a way that positively unhinges pike unlike any other lure. Even better, the gear for targeting spring and early-summer pike is straightforward. All you need is a moderately priced 8-weight fly outfit with a weight-forward floating line, and a handful of four- to six-inch streamer flies.
The daunting part of fly fishing for northerns stems from factors that traditional fly anglers don’t usually worry about. Here’s how to meet each of those challenges: