Fry and baitfish imitations have saved my day on numerous occasions. They seem to have an almost irresistible allure on big predatory fish no matter how finicky or lethargic they might seem. Oftentimes, the combination of size and a fast retrieve is what makes a predatory fish lose its temper. Sometimes, however, they spend some time investigating the prey before the pivotal strike.
Whenever this is the case, it’s good to have a streamer that looks the part – one that can tolerate some inspection without being dismissed. There might be other streamers out there that look more convincing than the RPO Main Streamer, but very few of them are easier to tie.
The RPO Main Streamer takes less than five minutes to tie and it looks quite edible despite the minimal tying efforts: it has a great profile in the water, a nice flashing belly, and a pulsating movement pattern. It is one of those patterns that will pick up fish under most circumstances – as long as there’s hungry predatory fish around.
Tying pike files is one of my favourite pastimes, and I always enjoy tying a new prototype pike fly onto my shock tippet and testing the reactions. Over the years, I have achieved a better understanding of the key elements that attract a pike to a fly and help induce the take.
I am also happy to say that sometimes I’m baffled by what pike choose to sink their teeth into. They don’t always prefer the flies that I initially would like them to prefer, but this only serves to add a bit of mystery and unpredictability to this magnificent fish.
The only real way of knowing whether or not a new pike fly will produce the amount of reckless strikes you envisioned while tying it, is to toss it into some pike-infested water and strip it back.
I did that recently with a new pike fly that came fresh from the jaws of my Renzetti vise – a fly that I deemed RPO Pike Lollipop because of its resemblance to one of those colourful sucrose candies on a stick that you get in theme parks, tivolis, and fairs.
Being a bulky concoction of red, white and silver, I knew the fly had potential. Furthermore, since it was made primarily from temple dog, it had a lot of volume and a good profile along with excellent pulsation and hovering abilities. It looked the part, but in the end, I let the pike be the judges – and the judges completely lost their senses!
That day, I had a whole series of spectacular strikes, and I ended up landing some chunky fish that had completely inhaled the fly. By the end of the day, after having retrieved the fly from the death traps of at least a dozen pike jaws, the Lollipop looked more like a savaged and half-eaten fluff of candyfloss.
Anyway, since pike flies are so fun to experiment with, I rarely tie the same fly twice. These days, however, I always have a supply of freshly tied RPO Pike Lollipops in my fly box. They are as irresistible to pike as candy is to a child!
On a recent trip to Belize, I had great success with the SS Streamer. And in the end, it helped me land a double grand slam consisting of a 70lb tarpon, a 25lb permit and a 3lb bonefish– in less than five hours. Now, my days of experimentation are probably over!
It is difficult to say what it is about the SS Streamer and other similar tarpon flies that make them so effective. There are a couple of possible explanations that spring to my mind, however. First of all, predominantly black flies create clear contours and contrasts against the bright tropical sky. Furthermore some red, purple and/or chartreuse will enhance the flies’ visual signature and act as strike points.
Lastly, the classic tarpon streamer designs consisting of a relatively short but stout hook, a long tail and a pulsating hackle allows for a very lively and pulsating fly that simply looks edible. They might not look like anything the tarpon usually comes across when hunting, but that seems beside the point. These flies are effective, and that’s what counts when you get that pivotal shot at catching the silver king!
While fishing the by now infamous Elbow Reef at Turneffe Island, the fly had the permit going nuts – casting off all their subtleness, refinement, and caution in favour of some fiery-tempered and headlong takes. Needless to say, I was amazed.
But after having watched how the fly zig-zagged and jigged unpredictably through the water for every retrieve, I started realizing that it wasn’t the sheer looks of the fly that had the fish reacting so strongly – it was the erratic movement patterns caused by the big triangular shaped epoxy body and all the water resistance it created.
The fly, which was conceived by one of the guides at Turneffe Island Resort, was humorously named The Pizza Fly because of its pizza slice-like shape, and in a single day, my travel companion and I had six massive 20lb+ permit inhale the fly!
It was madness!!! Due to bad weather and gale winds, we only had one full day of fishing on the Elbow that year, but when I returned one year later, I had a full selection of pimped Pizza Flies in my fly box: RPO Pizza Flies – fully upgraded with eyes on sticks, rubber legs, hackles, and new translucent body colours. Within one hour of fishing, two 20lb+ permit had been hooked, landed, and released – and the fun didn’t stop there.
Lots of other hard-fighting blue water fish such as horse-eye jacks, rainbow runners, garfish, and crevalle also joined in the fun, and it was clear that the fly had a special attraction – especially with the new and more life-like appearance. The Pizza Fly is supposed to imitate a fleeing shrimp, and that was what inspired me to further develop it into a more shrimp-like pattern with colours more closely resembling a shrimp, and details such as antennae, legs, and eyes.
It requires a bit of skill and patience to tie it, but the result is well worth the effort. It is best fished with sudden and abrupt pulls at a very high speed with some interposed stops. Quite often the fish will take the fly on the drop, when it is whirling chaotically downwards in the water column, so always be prepared to strike hard.
Contents THE CHALKSTREAMS OF GREAT BRITAINMODERN TACTICS ON A CHALKSTREAMTHE EQUIPMENTREFRESHEDTHE PRINCIPLE CHALKSTREAMS IN SOUTHERN ENGLANDRIVER TESTRIVER ITCHENRIVER AVONRIVER
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