After a few week with hook releases, let us first say a big “THANK YOU” to everyone who received the new hooks so well. Last weeks release of the PR 378 GB hook was extraordinary and the attention it has received has taken us a bit by surprise, and it’s kept us busy in the office with questions, orders and inquiries.
And let me use that hook to segway into the introduction of this week’s gust writer, Christan Drost. Christian is a pike- and zander fisherman extraordinaire and make sure to check out his social media profiles. Just recently, I was quite blown away by a monster asp just over 12kg. I didn’t even know they grow to that size.
Below is an article from Christian on zander fishing on the fly. And one of Christian’s points in the article is that you “will” lose flies if you go for the big zander. So he advises you keep them simple. Maybe a PR 378 GB could reduce the amount of flies lost?
Thanks for sharing some of your experiences with our readers, Christian!
Big Zander on the Fly by Christian Drost
In between all the chaos of modern days pike fishing, every now and then I take a break to target an old favorite. Ever since childhood days, I’ve been targeting zander, and I’ve got a long term history when it comes to catching this type of species, in all kinds of imagineable ways. The hunt for zander, and especially the big ones, is pure joy, and takes both skills and effort from the angler on the hunt to catch this illusive silver guest of the deep. Nevertheless it’s a rewarding game, and if done right can give out great results. Let’s dive deeper into the world of zander on the fly, Big zander on the fly!
Let’s face it. There is so much more to discover underneath the surface of the water than just Esox ‘’Only”. Besides the fact that I’m not completely ”only” into this species of fish, I’m actually a multi-species angler and have caught many record breaking fish. Zander however has always been close to my heart, and like already described, growing up with this fish, the knowledge I’ve gained over the years is just incredible. Years ago I’ve set the goal to myself to master every aspect of the fishing game catching predatory fish, and fly fishing for zander is just one of them!
If you are new to this game, and looking for knowledge then you’re in for a treat. If you stick to the concept of these words I’m about to write down, you’re a step closer to success.
So let’s take a look at zander terrirory shall we? Basically every water system can hold zander. Lakes, canals, rivers, ponds, streams, whatever you want to call them – they can hold zander. For this article I’m tying it down to lake and river fishing, and for the sake of keeping things simple get straight to the point. You don’t need much to catch big zander, but what you do need is some patience, the right gear and time out on the water. Sounds simple right?
When it comes to fly-fishing for zander, I use the float tube. For me this is one of the most exciting ways to catch this fish, because all the action happens below your feet, but it’s also possible to target them from shore or by boat. Mostly when I’m going fly fishing for pike, I use pikeflies (20-25cm), tied on Ahrex Trout Predator 6/0 and a heavy sinkingline to get down deep to where the silver ghosts live. This tryout will often result in less fish, but usually bigger ones.
On occasions I use a smaller presentation (12-15cm) which I tie on the Ahrex Trout Predator 4/0. The reason why this type of hook, a smaller one is so effective, is number 1, the razor sharp hook point and micro barb that ensures an immediate hookset, and 2, a thin wire for again the immediate hookset, but also staying hooked into the fish its mouth. It’s known that Zander have a very hard mouth, and in order to set the hook you’ll need something sharp. Now don’t worry about the size of your fly, the bigger fish have no problem inhaling a big fly. However on some days, which happens to be most days, they want a smaller presentation. Unstable weather for example, which is mostly found these days across the northern hemisphere. calls for a smaller fly to trigger more strikes. The big flies come into play if you don’t want to catch much, but big in the 80-90cm range. The somewhat smaller flies usually get 60-70cm zander. ”Big” Zander is a wide spectrum, and for many the size of big starts at 60cm, with me it starts at 75cm, so anything below can be considered as average.
Colours of the fly may vary with the clarity of the water and weather conditions. Bright sunny days in combination with medium to dark water ask for a darker fly, in this case black, dark blue, dark green, purple or red. Lighter water and darker weather conditions ask for a brighter presentation in lime green, yellow, white, pink and so on. UV reflective colours will often do good, but all depending on the clarity of the water, so make sure you’ve got yourself covered.
The flies don’t need to be fancy as you can see from the picture above, they need to be functional. Simplicity is key here. Why? You are often fishing close to the bottom and need to calculate in getting flies stuck on the bottom, just like you would fishing a softbait on a jig that gets stuck in between structure. I like to tie my flies as simple as possible, so I can tie plenty and not having to worry about losing a couple here or there. The materials are again simple. Synthethics, in my case jumbo kanakalon braid, which is equal to most EP fibers out there, but can be bought in bulk packs at your local dreadlock shop and is cheap, has a lot of movement in the water and catches fish like there’s no tomorrow!
What gear to use? For zander, I use a 12 weight. Total overkill, I know, but when I’m targeting big bike, which are also played on a rod this size, I’m mostly taking one rod with me on the water and that is this one. If you want to specific target them, I’d suggest to get a rod into the 7-9 weight class, all depending where you fish, and how big of a fish you’re looking to catch. The biggest benefit a rod needs to have is ability to set the hook into the hard mouth of the fish, and a 12 weight is very convenient for that. I use a Hardy Zephrus SWS 12 and despite the fact that it might look way overkill, the rod has actually a really nice parabolic action in the top section, just a bit more backbone in the butt section. Just how I like it! But again, every angler is different, so choose a rod that suits your needs.
The line? Either a medium to fast sink, Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan Hover Sink 2/4 or a Sonar Titan Sink 7, to get down where the zander live. I use a 60lb leader followed by a 90lb 49 strand steel wire, just in case a big 120cm plus pike decides to grab the fly, which is not uncommon. Just keep it simple. Big zander can fight hard, you’ll never want to compromise on line strength. So what happens when you get stuck to the bottom then? That’s why I love the TP610 so much, the wire on this setup enables you to always free the hook by bending it out. Of course, after this you’ll need a new fly, because the wire is weakened but it really helps freeing your fly!
And last but not least, you’ll need a fishfinder. Any brand is possible, I currently use a Raymarine Element 7, with sidescan and downimaging. This saves me tremendously in valuable fishing time on the water and also enables me to quickly find fish. The Element 7 is an exceptional piece of equiment you should have, and really gets you on the fish quicker. You’ll spend less time searching and more time catching, because the search for big zander on the fly can sometimes be a quest, and if you’re at the wrong, you wont hook up. Plus, the side and down image will enable you to recoginise the contours of the fish, and makes catching zander on the fly a pure joy of hunting, stalking and catching!
Good luck out on the water.