Days Gone By
Pike fishing with an artificial fly was probably first practised during the seventeenth century.This delightfull branch of the sport must have had a following in the eighteenth century, for in those days tackle shops stocked suitable flies. The Reverend William B Daniel's classic book Rural Sports (1801), gives readers carefull instruction for tying their own flies.
The Pike Fly must be made upon a double hook, fastened to a good link of gimp and composed of very gaudy materials; such as Pheasant's Peacock's or Mallards feathers; the brownest and softest part of Bear's fur; the reddish part of that of a squirrel, with some yellow mohair for the body. The head is formed of a little fur, some gold twist, and two black or blue beads for the eye; the body must be framed rough, full and round; the wings (not parted) , but to stand upright on the back, and some smaller feathers continued hence all down the back to the end of the tail, so when finnished they may be left longer than the hook, and the whole thing to be about the size of a Wren.
Even in Daniel's day we can see that some anglers were sceptical of the claims made for the fly - fishing method, for we read -again in Rural Sports. Another way of taking Pike is with an artificial fly: many have asserted that they are not to be caught at all with a fly. Nethertheless Daniel proceeds to prove the method to his own satifaction by referring to the capture in Loch Ken in Scotland of a 72lb monster Pike......with a common fly made of Peacock's feather, taken in 1774 or there abouts by John Murray, game keeper to the Viscount Kenmure. The fish has later been referred to as the Kenmure Pike.
Thomas Tod Stoddart's writing of Scotland's pike fishing in Stoddart's Anglers Companion (1853), gives evidence of catching pike on the fly. With regard to fly fishing for Pike, I used to practise it many years ago, with tolerable success, in a shallow Loch in Fife. Stoddart found that Pike would only take the fly in shallow or shoal waters, and then only on dull days and windy days.Of flies Stoddart had this to say: Pike flies ought to be big and gaudy, the wings formed each of the eye of a Peacks tail feather- the body plentifully bedizened with dyed wool, bright hackles, and tinsels. Beaded eyes also are held in estimation, and gimp or wire arming is essential. In spite of a long history the sport of fly fishing for Pike has been in the doldrums for nearly half a century. Now there are indication of a revival.
Quote from Fred J Taylor
If you are interested in obtaing the maximum pleasure from your Pike fishing, it is possible that you will find it in the use of fly tackle (end quote).
Many thanks to Fred Buller for the use of text from his excellent book PIKE.