by Lee Harper-Smith (Silver Scales Pro Team Member)
The River Wye is an example of one of the few Rivers that still has good population of specimen Pike. It has huge head of silver fish, from massive shoals of minnows and fry in the shallow gravel runs, large numbers of Dace throughout the River and pockets of Roach to specimen size. No wonder the Pike thrive in their early years. The River is also famed for it chub and barbel and you often hear of Pike taking 3lb chub and on occasion the odd small Barbel when anglers are playing them to the net. In addition to the coarse fish the Wye is a heaven for Brown Trout and Grayling as well as receiving its annual visits from Eel, Salmon and Shad; all at differing times of the year allowing the Pike to feast on a variety of naturally high protein fish; this is, in my opinion, the main reason the Pike reach mammoth sizes in the Wye with fish taken to 36lb and the odd rumour of bigger fish.
Being one of the few Rivers where Shad still run this fills a gap in the Pikes diet that few other river systems get. Between the months of April-May the Wye still sees large shoals of Shad migrate up the River to spawn, this is a time when the Pike are recovering from the exerts of spawning.
Most Shad are big relatively speaking when you compare them to normal baitfish
2-3lb is the normal size range 14-18inches long.
Having lure fished on the River for many years I have found that the most successful and consistent pattern is that of the Fox Replicate Roach (the Mk 2 version); sadly this version is no longer available. Whilst it is named the “Roach” pattern it actually looks more like a Shad than a Roach. For whatever reason the Pike home in on the Shad.
As my Pike angling evolved over the years I found myself moving over to fly fish for them, my main motive being to fish earlier in the season, as lure angling is not allowed during the Salmon season on my local club waters; the Salmon season only allowed fly fishing. Trying many different colours and patterns have found that the same colour combination is the most successful. This 10inch Jerk fly is based on the Gunnar Brammer Super Jerk Fly, made with a home made brush and has accounted for a large number of Wye Pike to over 20lb.
Whether it is an inbuilt confidence that I have with fishing these colours or if it is a genuine vice for the Pike in the Wye I will never be 100% sure but the combination of confidence and results speak for themselves.
Match the Hatch!
Twaite Shad females grow up to 40cm, and generally they are of the larger size because they run the river to spawn. The flies I have been using so far have been up to 25 cm which would represent the male fish. What with the bigger pike in the Wye taking a liking to large chub and the odd Barbel its only natural to assume that a 40cm high protein Shad full of spawn would make a nice snack for a big old Wye Pike.
Constructing a fly of this size needed some thought, a hook will need to be in the middle third of the fly to aid hooking and building bulk without to much material to help with casting was going to be a challenge.
I started by sticking two A4 pieces of paper together and drawing the outline in a teardrop shape, then placed the front and rear hooks where I wanted them, it was clear that using flexible wire to connect them would result in the rear hook tangling with the front so using 1mm wire I constructed a custom shank. This would give the stiffness to prevent tangling while allowing the tail section to flow freely.
Using a combination of Silverscales Big Fish Fibre and Silverscales Preyfish Fibre as sparingly as possible on the rear 3/0 Sakuma 420 hook. Using reverse tying to build vertical bulk and flash with a couple of grizzly hackle feathers to hide the shank and tying in points along the side, the tail came out at 25 cm.
I then used some Flybox UV Polar Chenille along the shank to create a skeleton infill and finished it with a blob of black chenille.
The front hook, a Sakuma Manta Extra 6/0, was then started with a bulky short stack of preyfish fibre; this would help keep the fly hollow and allow a sparse finish to the body and head.
The body was built using Big Fish fibre and the head using Preyfish fibre with a few Big Fish Fibre strands run through it to create a scaly look. The red and orange gill pack under the chin is more roach like but it’s a confidence thing I just like to add that in. Finished with Yellow Big Fish Fibre and Magnum Flashabou down the flanks to hide the tying in points and 15mm Silver Holo Eyes.
I am pleased with the overall finish of the fly but no doubt it will need some refining once it has been out for a cast and a swim!
Watch this space for Mk2 and the results from the MK1 once the Pike season gets under way in September/October.