William Powell Country

Pike, Chub and Perch on the Fly


Article written by 06 July 2012

June 16th is perhaps the best known fishing date. All fishermen and many of those who shoot and hunt have strong memories of fishing the first day of the coarse fishing season. Times have changed and you can now fish all year round. However, most rivers, canals and SSSI’s, still uphold the sacred date.

Most game anglers cut their teeth coarse fishing for roach, dace, chub, pike and perch and have superior field craft to those that didn’t. The chub, perch and pike in these same rivers today can give the dedicated fly angler the ultimate challenge of deceiving a wild fish. It’s true they would probably prefer a worm, but then so would a trout or salmon!

The challenge is to go catch one or all of these predators off your own back. Nearly all of England’s rivers and canals contain perch, pike and chub. Joining your local fishing club for the season will normally cost half the price of a day’s trout fishing on a stocked stretch of river in Hampshire. It’s likely too you will have access to many miles of fishing

This is a serious challenge. There is no log book to see from which pools the last 100 salmon were caught and that 70 of them were caught on an alley shrimp. You’re on your own and your field craft is going to have to be at its best. Working out what fly to use and where to cast it;  it’s you against the fish, fishing at its purest.

English chub grow to seven pounds and beyond and will take a big or small dry fly, but only if presented without alerting this wary fish of your presence. A good river perch weighs a couple of pounds and are taken subsurface. This greedy shoal fish is normally found in deeper pools and a sinking line will serve you well. Most exciting to catch is the pike on the fly. Growing to over twenty pounds, it can be caught on the surface or below and takes are spectacular. The pike will often make an airborne cartwheel on the take! You will need a small AFW wire trace for this toothy predator and bright bold imitations will be a good start.

Tackle is not important, any fly rod will do. This is about 99% field craft and 1% equipment. Each time you go, you will learn a little more about where the fish hang out and the best physical approach. The more times you fail, the more intriguing the challenge becomes.

So if you’re a dedicated sport fisherman, look outside the box. Between waiting for your monthly visit to a sacred trout river in the South of England, walk the dog and check out your local river. Challenge yourself to see if you can catch a wild coarse fish on one of England’s beautiful rivers.

If you want to cut the corner, spend a day with Jonny. He fishes fly or lure for these species, one on one, with you from a kayak in Norfolk.

Jonny is East Anglian’s answer to Ray Mears. His wife is a professional fly tier, so you will finish the day well-armed with flies. He will do all the paddling and talking whilst you simply sit at the front of the kayak in pole position indulging in fishing and watching the river unfolding in front of you. You can contact him through LLSWG by emailing max@suffolkbass.co.uk


Max Bond

A fishing enthusiast, who has made a living with Framlingham Fisheries selling and working with coarse fish. Run Carp Fishers Abroad (25 years) for enthusiasts keen to catch giant carp and cat fish in France. Now 50, he is looking for .. Read more.

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