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Thread: Toothy Picks and Leaders

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Pasadena, MD

    Default Toothy Picks and Leaders

    Unfortunately, tidal pickerels remain scarce this year. The only picks Iíve caught in 2017 have been in Eastern Shore ponds.

    When folks hear I catch them on the fly Iím often asked if I use a wire leader. I do not. I use regular mono and usually no more than 10 pounds. I keep the leader/tippet light because the fly is light and I donít like to make noisy entry on the water when casting to the shallows where picks live. Very rarely have I been bit off. Thatís because pickerels usually do not swallow a fly deeply.

    This is a typical pickerel hookup:

    P1030209 (2).jpg

    You can see the hook penetrated right through its upper lip, just as you would expect in a Clouser that runs with the hook pointed up.
    However, that doesnít mean that picks do no damage to the leader. When I disassembled my fly rod to store it after Saturdayís pond outing I checked the leader and it indeed it was frayed. See here:

    Fray (2)_LI.jpg

    I enlarged the photo to show the cuts. And that was after catching only two picks. Had the pickerels been more active, I would have checked the leader while fishing and re-tied if necessary.

    I do the same when catching picks with light spinning tackle -- light leaders and frequent checks.

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on and via PM

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Midway between Baltimore and Washington


    Excellent post Mark. I have not caught anything toothy yet on the fly rod. I typically use 12 pound mono or 20 pound mono for my leader connections for my flies.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011


    Over the past decade I have caught hundreds of pickerel in the Severn. I used to fish 8-lb mono -- I often had break offs. Then I switched to 10-lb braid with a 20-lb mono leader (I probably could have gone lighter, but that was the only mono I had on hand). I rarely get break offs with that set up.

    Regarding how the fish hooks up, I cannot remember having any of the pickerel take the hook deep into their gut. Less than 3% get the hook inside their mouth such that I use jaw spreaders to open the mouth and remove the hook with pliers. The rest get the hook in their jaw such that I can remove it with my fingers without worrying about getting bitten.
    John Veil
    Native Watercraft Manta Ray 11 and Slayer Propel 10
    Member - Pro Staff team for Native Watercraft

    Author - "Fishing in the Comfort Zone" - light tackle fishing techniques for kayaks and small boats

  4. #4


    Great post as always Mark and great comments from all. I have been using fluorocarbon tippet material for over 20 years of salt water fly fishing, and this includes some very toothy critters, mackerel and cuda's. In the coastal area my goto is 20 lb seagar, but inshore with a 8wt. or below in my hands 12 to 16 lbs is more than enough for blues, trout or chain pickerel. I think I have stuck with the floro out of laziness, it is more $pricey$ but it does resist abrasion slightly better than mono. I say slightly because I still check it or rerig after every fish..... most of the time. I can also attest that while false albacore fishing the floro makes a huge difference, those fish can see very well and while feeding on small anchovies it could be the difference in hooking up and getting skunked.
    So I think I might need to take some advice from these comments and start using some lighter leader material. Thanks guys, and hope we get some picks this year on our side of the bay!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2017


    Yeah I'm a fan of 15 or 20# floor leader for the pickerels. I also tie a canoe mans loop knot to the hook. I think the loop knot provides a little better action.
    Matt (Formerly CB Kayak 02 "Over 3,000 Posts") Owner

    Hobie Outback 2015
    Hobie Revolution 11' 2016
    Sea Hunt Triton 202


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