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Pursuing Pike on The Fly in Scotland

Today’s guest post comes from experienced guide Scott Rutherford based in East Kilbride, as he tests out the Orvis Clearwater 9’ 10wt pursuing pike on the fly on Scotland’s Loch Leven.

Having been a trout and grayling angler for many years, there is nothing better, in my opinion, than casting very small flies to rising fish on light gear. The 9 ft and 10ft 3 and 4 wt rods are perfect for small nymphs and dry flies. Imagine going from this to casting very large air-resistant flies, with dragon tails or wiggle tails, to large predatory fish. These flies were often larger than some of the fish I had been previously catching.

Swapping my favoured wild rivers for large Scottish lochs and fishing from a boat rather from a riverbank has been a huge change in direction, but so far, I have enjoyed the challenge. The main differences between light river fishing and large predator fishing would be the equipment required and the watercraft needed to find them.

Searching for pike in a large open expanse of water can be very daunting, completely different to finding fish in rivers, gone are the riffles, tail outs and pools. However, learning about pike behaviour and the behaviour of the bait fish they feed on, can be the key to finding them.

Delivering the fly to the desired location is the other big change. Dry fly fishing for trout is all about presenting a rather small imitative fly pattern perfectly in front of a feeding fish. Pike fly fishing is about presenting a much larger, bushy attractor/baitfish pattern, with lots and lots of movement at the required depth.

A 4-weight rod is not designed to cast large bushy or heavy flies, to do this requires a completely different rod. I like to fish flies which have extra movement, like adding on a large wiggle tail, due to this I opted for a 10-wt fly rod.

Having tried a couple of kits in 9ft 9wt and 9ft 10wt, I decided to try out the Orvis Clearwater 9ft 10wt coupled with the Orvis Hydros reel loaded up with the Orvis Hydros Bankshot sink tip fly line.

The rod is very nice-looking, which won't help me catch more or bigger fish, but I like my kit to look good, and it feels quite light for a 10-wt rod, lighter than a couple of the previous rods I had tried. It balanced extremely well with the Hydros reel which is a great looking reel too.

On the water, I fished the kit with a 4 ft leader connected to a wire pike trace, specifically for fly fishing. I found the rod to be light and responsive. The faster action of the rod allowed it to recover quickly, and it wasn’t overwhelmed by long lines and big flies.  A long casting stroke coupled with a haul, made for a nice long cast and good turnover of the flies.

The steep front taper of the Bankshot line aided the turnover of the fly even with shorter casts, and the intermediate tip held the fly nicely in mid-water.

The best way to gauge your kit is to catch a fish on it, and that we did. Landing a beautiful pike of around 8/9lbs.

The fish made several very powerful runs and the action of the rod, and the reel came into their own. The rod was powerful enough to control the deep dives and powerful runs but forgiving enough to absorb the violent head shakes of the fish.

The reel very smoothly lets out line when required and with the large arbour, it could pick up line quickly and store it safely on the reel. I don’t like to play fish by hand, I always like to get the line back on the reel so it can’t get tangled around anything, in this case, the equipment in the boat.

The fishing tackle you use can make or break your day and, in this case, I found the Clearwater rod, hydros reel and Bankshot line to be an excellent combination and very enjoyable to use.

I have really enjoyed my pike fishing journey, and I learn more about these amazing fish on each outing, I look forward to further trips, catching and appreciating the fish and the environment they live in.

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