The combination of synthetic flies and Double Hauling fast action rods loaded with Pike or saltwater tapered fly lines generate the line speeds required for fly anglers to fish lighter rod sizes for predatory fish. As I mostly fish synthetic patterns my personal choice is an 8 weight for the majority of my Pike and saltwater fly fishing. There is a balance between maximizing ones fishing pleasure and landing Pike in a responsible and timely manner. Key to achieving this is having a leader that allows you to confidently place pressure when fighting even the largest of Pike.
For me the most important aspects of a leader are its length, taper and material composition.
If a leader is too long it won’t turn over the fly correctly, too short and the fly line shocks on both the back and forward stroke dissipating power required for proper fly presentation. I like a stiff leader material as this helps the turnover of larger flies.
From fly line to fly my overall leader length is 2.3 meters and I use Rio Alloy Hard Saltwater Mono in equal 66 cm lengths ( leaving 10 cm excess for knots) of 15 kg-11.3 kg and 10 kg. The overall mono length is 2 meters. Rio Alloy Hard Mono has a high abrasive resistance for fishing around structure and is a lot more forgiving than fluorocarbon. I was introduced to this mono some time back by Bruce Chard while fishing the Florida Keys and it makes excellent leaders for Pike and Bass.
Landing Pike from a boat or float tube often requires the leader to pass through the rod guides. The connection from fly line to leader should be smooth allowing the leader to pass through the guides with little or no resistance protecting the tip of the rod from damage.
By nail knotting the leader directly to the fly line and coating with Loon Knot Sense, it creates a strong smooth reliable connection that will pass easily through the rod tip.
Coating all of the leader knots with Loon Knot Sense allows the fly to be fished close to the rod tip. This has the advantage of fishing the fly for longer periods close to the boat where many takes occur.
Perfect nail knots in less than 1 minute can be achieved by using a Tiefast tool and it’s also great for joining the leader material together with a nail knot splice.
The potential weak point of a pike leader is the connection between mono (fluorocarbon) and wire. Adding a tippet ring forms an insulated connection between both materials and allows the angler to put a lot of pressure when playing fish.
I prefer light supple wire as this allows flies to be fished with the desired action. I use 30 cm of 9 kgs Rio Bite Wire which is knot able, has a low diameter and extremely bite resistant.
To help turnover heavier flies, I use the same Rio wire in 13.6 kgs.
To this I attach a lure clip. Some anglers don’t trust clips for good reason but I think it’s just a case of finding the right one.
Fastach clips in size 2 or larger size 3 have no moving parts to open while still providing good fly articulation.
Place a size 3 Fastach clip in a tying vice, attach a set of dumbbell eyes to create a jig mount for your non weighted patterns allowing flies to be fished deeper, adding a very effective “clouser style” movement to most flies in your box.
This leader maximizes power transition from fly line to fly and also offers strength, convenience and versatility with quick fly change. I use the same leader set up for Bass replacing wire with fluorocarbon.
Fine tuning your leader will maximize presentation while minimizing effort and allows for direct contact with the fly from the first pull of the retrieve. The quicker the fly can swim, the less reaction time predatory fish have and the possibility of more hook-ups.