September 07, 2012
"Fish Eating Fish" Fly: Creating a Food Chain with Every Strip
By Joe Cermele
Ulf Hagstrom is a writer, avid fly fisherman, and tyer who pens his thoughts and fly recipes on his blog, The Way of the Fly. Recently, Hagstrom cited an article from a Swedish fishing magazine that featured the results of a study from the mid-1990s that suggested big pike, in many cases, would rather attack and steal prey already captured by smaller pike than hunt down their own forage. I don't know if that's true, though I've had plenty of pike steal small fish off my line. But Hagstrom put some stock in the theory and came up with what he calls the "Fish Eating Fly," which mimics a hammer-handle pike swimming with a meal sideways in its maw (below).
According to the blog post, Hagstrom has been catching some big pike on the big bug. However, the "FEF," as he calls it for short, hasn't had enough time on the water for him to say it necessarily catches more than other pike flies. The full recipe with step-by-step tying instructions is available here.
Whether the FEF is destined to become the next great pattern for toothy Esox family members or it's just a waste of material is irrelevant to me, because I've said it once and will say it again: the most fun part of fly tying is tinkering and experimenting, not tying the same nymph over and over and over. So I give Hagstrom credit for at least thinking outside the box. I'd love to have an FEF as purely an art piece, but I also wonder if the food chain scenario it presents would turn more wary muskies or even big lake trout if instead of the predator in the tie being a little pike, it became, say, a Kokanee or rainbow trout. What do you think? Have a great weekend.