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Favorite Pickerel Flies/Setup

7334 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Brent
I love fly fishing for chain pickerel near Fredericton NB, and I'm not sure how many people realize how fun it can be. In order to inform people how easy and fun it can be everyone who comes across this topic who has fly fished for pickerel can talk about their setup and experiences. Also anyone who wants to learn more about it can use this to post questions.

My favorite setup I use is a 9wt rod, WF9 line, and for flies i usually use big green bass bugs, large black or olive wolly buggers, and occasionally I use a red and white clouser with flashabou, also a 7 or 8wt rod will also work well I just prefer the 9wt.
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Fly fishing the toothy critters is an awesome way to spend the day from ice out until the snow flies again.. I use an 8wt for my Pickerel fishing and Ireserve the 9wt for Musky but I will probably be getting a 10wt this season with any luck.
That sounds like a blast, and something I'd like to try this year. Can you do this in or around the weeds?
in and around the weeds is usually the best!

once i know the topwater bite is on thats pretty much all i use (for smallies too)....nothin like seein that v-wake 10ft from your fly and then bang.... the eat is awesome!..... by mending your line around rocks/weeds you can do things with a fly that are impossible to do with gear and will trigger strikes

for topwater flies i go with foam for chain picks....they will ruin a deerspun fly quick!

subsurface flies that produce for me are pretty much anything with a rabbit strip tail, most clouser style streamers work well experimenting this year with some new stuff....shrinking my musky patterns (they work for picks in full size too).... one of my new favorites is the "sex dungeon" pattern and variants....just be minndful to type "sex dungeon fly" when you google that one

i use anything from a 5-8 wt for picks and almost always "line up" one choice is dictated by size of fly and wind conditions....also what other species are in the water/how big the picks are in that area.....i'd hate to hook a musky or striper with my 5wt and lose a fish and a rod all at once....

i've learned with picks, that somedays (ok..most days )they will take anything you throw out there, but there is still a time and place for certain presentations that will drastcally outperform others.....small/big patterns, fast/slow retrieves etc.....for instance in the early spring they will take topwater but you have to have extreme patience.....i will cast and let it sit while i count to 20.....strip and count again.....sometimes i do this all the way back to the boat and dont get a hit till the fly is at the boat and im ready for the next cast.....also figure 8's (a musky tactic) at boatside have produced bigger fish for me.

your absolutey right flyguy, chain pickerel are a total blast on the fly rod and not a lot of people get out and try it, for me it's a nice break somedays to target them after being beat up by the lack of action while hunting musky
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There are a few options you can use for leader. One that I use is heavy duty mono or flurocarbon line, but if you use this method you MUST inspect your leader and knot after every fish and strike because they will do a real number on it. Option 2 is you can buy wire fly leaders for musky and use those, I'm not sure what the price range is on them though since I prefer option 1. There are probably other options also these are just the two I know and have seen.
What kind of leader do you guys use ?
fluro vs steel/wire.....this one gets debated a lot by musky/pike guys......personally, i like a 20inch flurocarbon tippet 25-30lb to the fly with a "rapala knot" or (depending on the fly) sometimes a crosslock snap with or without a swivel.....i just buy a spool of flurocarbon casting line and it lasts forever... i hear different from others but i've yet to have a bite off with this set up....but like flyguy said if you go this route check it often for weak points...

side note-again this depends on what else is in the water....on the johnny i will go as high as 60# fluro to target cp....just incase mr.musky is lurking and decides he wants a snack....doesn't seem to deter the picks from eating

try both and see what you like...if your going to go steel leader i would say try to find the tie-able stuff....i tried it and still find it kinks too much, messes with ther action of the fly and is too expensive.
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I LOVE fishing pickerel with my fly rod, I usually use a 7 weight rod with floating line, sink tip in the spring.. mostly big flies...streamers in the spring, topwater frogs, mice ect mostly in summer, but just all depends on conditions, I like heavy fluorocarbon for leader material as I find flies turnover and cast better than with wire leader, ill also sometimes use braided line which works well but you have to check it often for fraying
i use a 8wt setup because i find it easier to cast large streamers.

Like Bob_Marlo i have been tying miniature muskie/pike flies. Yellow, White, Pink and Black should be all the colors you need, wolly buggers tied with lots of hacle and crystal chenille would be a great place to start. I like miniature Hangtime Optic Minnows because of the awesome movement and durability.

I use 30lb mono for pickerel leaders. I tried using the super thin leaders from canadian tire but i found they kink really badly. I would use the same single strand wire leaders as I use for muskie for 6-8 inch flies but for smaller/topwater presentations I prefer heavy mono/floro.
Will I be okay with an 8wt tapered line on my 8wt 9 ft rod, or should I go up to a 9wt line for chain pickerel? How long should the heavy leader be?
You will want the leader to be shorter than what you would normally have if you were trout fishing so the heavier fly will turn over properly...Like Bob_Marlo suggested you can upsize your line but not a lot of people have the spare spool or a second reel kicking around to enable this switch.. that being said... your 8wt line will do just fine.. you will find it a little more difficult to push the really large flies out that is all..
I have taken the small ones up to about 18 inches on wolly buggers, we have some in our pond. Bigger one the fly I have had the most luck with is a SAR MUL MAC. But it is a bit of a production. I got into this in the 70 and fur flies were not available at the time:


I have used a lot of 4lb test on 6 weights or ultralight spinning, and I rarely loose flies or grubs. But obviously one will loose some. With spining I use a double line of 4 lb, with flies the hook is often long enough to act as a shock tippet.

I use level 20 lb test like Maxima for the big stuff. I loose flies now and again but only because I catch lots of fish before changing the files, if I retied first it would be OK, I guess. There are probably better ways to go, but if you use the standard big game leader it is basically 30 # a class tipped, and the say 100 pound shock tippet. If you don't need the class part, level leader works great. Actually the limper the better.

Recently I have been fishing Jorgensen hammerheads as poppers it is a simplified frog patterns. I tie mine with bucktail legs, maybe I will try this feather version. I used quality Bass worm hooks bent to make them weedless. One of the advantages with flies is they are so easy to make weedless so you can really get into holes and pads with them.


I normally fish 8Wt, but the hammerheads were too wind resistant. I have bigger gear but haven;t tried it yet.
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I don't generally target pickerel, but I do love hooking and playing them. I do a bit of warm water fly fishing for perch/sunfish/bass. Been using a little 7 foot 3wt rod this spring, and it has been surprisingly effective on pickerel up to about 19" so far. Such a light line means fairly small flies, but I've been able to throw streamers and muddlers up to #10, not pretty, but they do get out there.

I'd agree that 5/6 wt is more effective, and about 8 lb mono can keep lost flies to a minimum (I use 3 lb on the 3wt, and I do lose plenty of flies to pickerel.)

Most of my success with pickerel has been on muddlers, black/olive wooly buggers and clouser style minnows. Can't think of a fly they wouldn't take (well, maybe a #16 parachute adams), but they do seem to enjoy a mouthful rather than a morsel. As I said, I don't often target them, so what I know, I know by accident. This thread has provided me with a lot of ideas! thanks.
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