View Full Version : Toothy Critter Leaders

07-19-2010, 08:44 AM
Headed to Canada in a month for a wilderness outpost fishing trip. Part of this years trip will be casting flys at big northern pike. From previous years experience, these guys can cut through the biggest mono lines and sometimes even the fancy spiderwire lines. Typical hardwear rigs usually include steel leaders that take a hefty beating themselves.

I'm looking for the best possible option for leaders. Some people have told me that you can get away with big bass (16lb) mono leaders, and others have said that I need to go ahead and get the Rio "Toothy Critter" Leaders, which have a steel wire tippet.

The average size of pike we will be casting to is around 25". Does anyone have any experience with these fish or a similar species that can help me out with leader decisions?

07-19-2010, 10:22 AM

You will love fishing in Canada, they grow BIG mosquitos up there in August & September. Be prepared.

I've not fished for pike, but I would imagine that they are similar to barracuda, permit, blue fish, and sharks. Since I have fished alot in the Caribbean, my guides always rigged up with 50-60 lb. mono, as a minimum, on 8 wt. rods. Their teeth can wear through a leader, or they can break you off on coral heads. Granted, they don't have coral in Canada, but they could break you off on something.

As you said, you can always go to a wire leader, with good knots.


07-19-2010, 11:35 AM
Bill, this will be my 7th trip to Northwest Ontario, so I am prepared for the mosquito onslaught.

As for the 50-60lb. Mono, are you suggesting I make my own leaders out of a spool of mono?

07-19-2010, 12:55 PM
Bill, this will be my 7th trip to Northwest Ontario, so I am prepared for the mosquito onslaught.

As for the 50-60lb. Mono, are you suggesting I make my own leaders out of a spool of mono?

Yes, you do. Tie the mono to your fly line with a nail knot or an Albright knot, (they're similar) at least 15 feet long, and then tie your fly to the mono. You won't have a leader & tippet per se. The mono is being used for the abrasion resistance. I would use a pale blue or green mono to make it less visible to the fish. After trout fishing for a number of years, it sounded strange to me also to use mono, but you're dealing with large powerful fish who will strike hard, and run hard, and give you a heck of a fight. And they don't seem to be that sensitive to the line.

If you want, you can tie wire to the mono, and then the fly.

07-19-2010, 04:51 PM
I'd be hesitant to use straight 50# mono as a leader and tippet. The problem with it is that now the weak link in your system would be either the flyline or the backing - a big fish could break you off either in the flyline or the backing. Byron would like this rig though, as he would get to sell a new flyline;).

Another small problem would be getting the kinks out of 15' of 50# mono that's been coiled on a fly reel. It'll be a lot stiffer in Ontario waters than in the Caribbean. You might also get by with a shorter leader for pike.

I'd use a heavy 7'-9' leader of some sort (maybe even straight mono, if you like), then tie in a class tippet to 16#-20#, then tie in a 18-inch "bite tippet" of heavy mono or wire (use albright knot to tie to class tippet). Then if something breaks, it won't be the flyline or backing.

07-19-2010, 05:37 PM

Your line/leader/bite tippet combo is fine also. When I started fishing the flats, I made a mistake several times by using a leader/tippet that was too light, and lost a few good fish. After those instances, I learned to go heavier for big fish.

On the 50# mono, I was going for the abrasion/bite resistance due to the diameter of the line, not necessarily because of it's breaking strength.

You can buy "short" rolls of 20# and up mono from fly shops. Grannyknot could set it up both ways, and try it out to see which one he likes better. I don't believe he said what weight rod he was going to use, but I would recommend at least an 8 wt. IMHO


07-20-2010, 08:07 AM
I'll be taking a 7wt.

After looking at some "pike on the fly" websites last night, I think I'll use a large diameter tapered leader with a shock tippet made of braided wire.
Thanks for the help and suggestions.

07-20-2010, 09:22 AM
That should work just fine.

When you get back, let us know how you did, and photos would be nice.


07-20-2010, 04:18 PM

The wire leaders are o.k. and use them if you want to but I'll tell you how I have been doing it for the past ten years or so. If you can find some Mason Hard Mono, use a piece of 20 lb and tie it directly to your fly. We routinely land 4 or 5 muskies on a fly before having to retie the leader. It is very durable and I can't recall a time where we have lost a fish because of a break off. A simple 4 turn clinch knot is all you need. Sometimes we will add a 2' section to an existing leader or just use the mason for the whole leader. It is stiff and will turn over a big pike bug with ease. I haven't bought the stuff in years so I'm not sure where to tell you to look but a google search should turn up something.

Good luck. I just got back from Canada on Sunday and wish I was back. I'll put up a trip report to help "motivate" you.

We use 8wts but I have used 7wts in the past and they have worked just fine. They also double as a big smallmouth rod which you will probably find are more fun than the pike.

07-20-2010, 04:29 PM
Thanks for the help gmreeves.
The lake we are going to is too far north for smallies, although I have been on some lakes in Canada where smallmouth were the dominant species. It was a ton of fun, especially since the water was so clear, you could see them come out of a brush pile 20 feet down and hit your lure. The only species on this lake are Walleye, Northerns, & Lake Trout, with an occasional perch.

07-20-2010, 04:34 PM
Take a sink tip and some small streamers. Walleye aren't as fun as pike but they sure taste good as I'm sure you are aware of.

07-20-2010, 10:54 PM
You might want to also considering tying your leader directly to your fly line, and not use the welded loop if you have one. Also, I actually tie my own loop on with 20-30 lbs test that holds up well, and you don't have to worry about the fly line loops giving out, which have happened unfortunately.