Vision/Flydressing has been regulars in Fly vs. Jerk – the only team participating all seasons since the beginning. The first series was a battle between Jojje Wester and Niklaus Bauer. And then Niklaus has kept on going all seasons showing off his extreme skills, lately together with Thomas Søbirk, proving that fishing with fly can be as effective as jerk/spin fishing when defeating the the all-star jerk/spin team of Svartzonker and Trumman two seasons ago.
These guys have really taken it to the next level not only using traditional fly techniques but taking ideas from spin-fishing as well as big game fishing into use in a very efficient way. For us (who still not have dared to pick up a fly-rod) watching what the fly-guys are doing is really exciting. And is there anyone out there that does not get excited looking at pike take the fly and then follow the fight on the soft, sensitive fly rod. And there is something very beautiful about the way the flies move, and the casting looks like a well coordinated balet. (As you hear it is only a matter of time until we also pick up a fly-rod ;-))
For us it is an honor to talk to both of these extremely skilled but maybe slightly mysterious gentlemen in team Vision/FlyDressing Sweden: Niklaus Bauer and Thomas Søbirk. Who are these guys, behind the line collectors? We will try and mix these gentlemens clever answers and deliver some of their spirit in the text below. Pls forgive us for having a long text – but their answers were so good that we did not want to cut it down. Better to read the post in two sections instead we figured, and in the end it is our blog and we can do what we want 🙂 On FiskeFürAlle you always get a good bang for the buck :-). Enjoy!
This is the second of the team interviews from Fly vs Jerk. If you have missed the first post featuring Team CWC and Pierre Monjarret – click here
To our regular Swedish readers. As mentioned in also in the previous post: While preparing these posts we understood that both the show Fly vs Jerk and the teams have large following outside of Sweden. This time we decided to go all in and try to give the “FiskeFürAlle”-experience also for the none-Swedish speaking crowd. If you want to read the post in Swedish, click here
First we give you Thomas Søbirk. We thought is was a good idea since he is the “newcomer” with “only” three seasons under his belt (LOL) but also since he has been slightly in the background leaving Niklaus to do most of the talking. Thomas leaves us wanting to know more. For my side I knew before his participation In Fly vs Jerk that he had been the editor in chief in the magazine “Fiske-Feber” and is running the travel company “Getaway tours”. However I did not know that he was that skilled in fly fishing for pike until he entered the scene in season 5 and kicking some serious jerk/spinfishing butt 🙂
Thomas – who are you?
I’m a Danish family man in his mid forties trying to run a business around my lifelong passion for angling. With a background in advertising I started the magazine Fiskefeber in 2000 and since then GetAway Tours, a fishing travel company. That’s what I do for a living.
Niklaus and I have known each for longer through the fishing industry but I think we fished together for the first time some five years ago. We hit it off really well so when Niklaus asked if I wanted to join him for Fly vs Jerk 5 – the first time there were two fly anglers fishing against two jerk bait/spinning anglers – and I thought ”why the hell not”?
We both live really busy lives so while I’m sure we’d like to fish together more often it’s hard to find the time. We have fished together for pike in Denmark and Sweden and for tarpon in Nicaragua – and I’m sure there will be more adventures to come.
As most other kids I started fishing for anything – mostly catching nothing – but in my early teens I developed a deep love for pike fishing. While I have also fished a good deal for zander (and lots of other species), big pike were always my number one. Those days it was mainly live baiting and some lure fishing but in my late twenties I started to feel I was difficult to find the next level in my pike fishing. I had caught lots of big pike up to 15,9 kilos and lots of big zander to 9,85 kilos – and fishing for just another personal best – or as many 10 kilo+ pike as possible or whatever – seemed a little pointless. This was still a few years before jerkbaits really took off so instead I took up fly fishing to find new challenges.
At first I fly fished for pike but my casting wasn’t really good enough for the huge flies that my live bait background dictated that I should use (big bait = big pike, right?). So instead I fished for trout, bonefish, salmon, what ever –traveling a lot which I have always loved. Also, I had small children so fishing every weekend wasn’t so great – going away now and then and fishing hard for six days seemed to work better.
Then some six or seven years ago my two girls was getting a little older and is was easier to get out of the house. I could start to fish at home now and then and I really enjoyed that. That’s when I really started to get into fly fishing for pike and because of my background in pike fishing it was like things came full circle now. As part of my job I travel to fish for all kinds of species – either fly fishing or popping with heavy spinning tackle – but at home I only fly fish for pike. It’s the only fishing that can really get my pulse up around here. There’s just something about hooking these big, mean machines…and on a fly rod that really bends deep: I just love it!
And then Niklaus – could you also pls introduce yourself?
I am a 37-year old fishing nerd who more or less grew up in the Stockholm Archipelago. I think I started fly fishing when I was 9-10 and started tying my own flies at the same time. I caught the first pike on fly some years after. After that I was addicted :-). So it is more or less a life-long passion. The fishing obsession really took of to the next level when I was around 17-18 when I could afford to get my hands more tying material et c. I took high school in Sävenfors with fokus on water, fishing, taking care of fish environment and fish management.
After high school I joined a fishing store (3 days after quitting school). I worked there for several years until it was closed down. Then I was offered a job at Fly-dressing as a sales rep. I did that for some time and then I was offered a share of the company and that is what I have been doing ever since.
I fly-fish everything. I have fished salt-water, Tarpons, I have the world record in coal fish caught on fly (just under 15kg) and caught Halibut, eel, tench, burbot, et c. But pike is the species I keep coming back to.
We are constantly trying to develop the fishing and the tactics. We are always keeping our eyes open for new ideas. We get a lot of inspiration from many sources, including spin-fishing like side-to-side movements and wiggle tails. One of the most succesful techniques we have developed so far is using tube-flies that almost levitate in the water. Extremely good for cold water conditions.
Niklaus – how is fishing with Thomas?
Fantastic! He is one of the best guys I have ever fished with. He has a lot of stamina – as we say in Swedish “the forehead is very thick”. He is also one of the most experienced all-round fly-fisherman fishing around. He has been fly-fishing for Tarpon, Bonefish, GT et c. We complement and support each other very well when we fish. When I have down-period he continues to fish while pep-talking and catching fish and the same goes for me of course. Additionally he really clever when it comes to talking tactics. The only down-side is that we do not get to fish with each other as much as we would be like.
Thomas: What is it that thrills you about pike fishing
I’m a little primitive when it comes to fishing. I just like BIG fish. I mean, dry fly fishing for trout in a river is great fun and I like it a lot – but to really get my heart pumping I need that big broad back coming towards the surface with my fly in it’s jaws.
For me I think it’s also just a first love thing. I fell in love with pike fishing when I was really young and though I got a little tired of fishing for them with life baits or lures I never got tired of the pike itself. So now being able to cast a fly, feel the take and hook these big fish with the line in my hand…well, I don’t think I will ever grow tired of that.
Thomas: It is the second year for you now in Fly vs Jerk (and 7th for Niklas) Was it obvious that you were going to compete again?
Editors comment: For me as a spin fisherman apparently I have “lost” season 5. It was far too painful to see the spin-fishers get crushed so that is a season does not exist in my mind LOL
Well, it’s the third year for me and I’m not very happy about the fact that you have forgot Fly vs Jerk 5 since that’s when Bauer and I kicked Trummans and Svartzonkers jerk-asses 5-1! (laughs). In Fly vs Jerk 6 we came in second out of the four teams and as we all know second is just the first loser, so that’s no good. After Fly vs Jerk 6 it was obvious to me that I would compete again in Fly vs Jerk 7, at least if Vision Sweden wanted me to. It is just too much fun to miss.
Niklaus – you have been in all seasons – what keeps you coming back?
Well… What people don’t understand on Fly vs Jerk is the extreme mental and physical stress is extreme. You are just empty after the three days of fishing. That is also what keeps me coming back. The competition is so cool, a mental roller coaster that is one of the most exciting things you can do.
However one of the most frustrating things is that you fish all in for three days and then don’t know the score until 6 months later. Now we are re-living the event again. It’s going to be fun!
What are the emotions involved fishing in Fly vs Jerk?
Let’s remember that we really only fish for the honor. There are no money or boats or blonde groupies to win – so really, it’s just for fun. And it’s a really cool way to inspire other anglers to fly fish for pike (or jerk/spin for them, if you’re into that) and teach them little tricks. So while we fish super hard we are still having fun 90% if the time.
BUT when we make those phone calls and you realize you might have a chance of getting a point or two then you can get really caught up and super excited. And then there’s playing fish: In Fly vs Jerk 6 I lost a 8-9 kilo pike seconds before Niklaus could net it. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t exactly like it – but I’d get over it right away. When it happened during Fly vs Jerk you get so frustrated, knowing that this fish could have made a huge difference in the end. In fact it did – had we landed that fish we would have won Fly vs Jerk 6.
These things means that when you hook a good fish during this competition you are ten times more nervous and excited while you fight it to the boat. That’s really cool!
How do you prepare for the competition?
Well, while I’d love to tell you that we exercise for months, have mental coaches and go on healthy diets the truth is that we don’t have much time to prepare. I think we are a little too busy with everything else in our daily lives. Still, there is some serious preparation before and during the competition.
I really try to get as much sleep as possible – but so far I have been too high on adrenaline or whatever it is to sleep really well during the competition. I wish I could though. And we try to eat well – but mostly when we are running from one spot to another. If you’re not well fed you get tired and loose focus.
What is your view on the gameplan?
Thomas: A game plan is really important, and it’s very important to stick to it. This year Niklaus had been scouting a new big fish water and we had plans to do something completely different. However, conditions were not right and we had to go for Plan B. And then we stuck with Plan B and did your best, not even thinking about alternatives for three days.
Niklaus: This season we decided to, or at least planned to, do something different. Our plan was to leave the archipelago and going for big fish in a big river system. We had scouted well and found several nice spots. I hade pre-fished before and found several eddies with a high concentration of baitfish and we landed a few decent pikes the week before the start of the the competition. Then they decided to close down water flow for an un-disclosed period of time. FRUSTRATING! That means the nice eddies we had found woud disapear and all fish will be scattered, no baitfish concentration and no pike hot spots and that we did not want to bet on. So we went with plan B instead which was archipelago (again).
We usually have a decided gameplan and of course we discuss minor changes during the competition. Which spots to try during current conditions et c but we fish in a structured way. Our standard game-plan is to in general go for numbers, but then about every third spot we go to a sport that has potential for to hold big fish. What can be seen as “random” big fish is on the show actually “only” a result of a part of our gameplan.
Thomas – we have seen you swinging that beautiful white rod now for 2 seasons. There is most likely a number of fly-fishers-to-be out there that would love to know gear you are using. So what do you use?
My favourite rod for Fly vs Jerk is a trusted white Vision Venus 9’ #9. It will cover every situation and it has a fast action that I like. My go to all round fly line is the Big Daddy Intermediate but this year I fished the new Big Mama lines a lot and they might just be my new favourite…haven’t quite decided yet so I still fish both lines a lot. The reel doesn’t matter much in pike fishing but I like a good quality reel like the Vision XLA.
How do you employ electronics. For what and how?
Electronics are not a big part of fly fishing for pike. The plotter is for moving fast between spots safely, the echo sounder is just to check the depths but usually we fish so shallow and in areas we know that we don’t need it much. We might spot some bream with it but most often we will see them too. And then there is the temperature but that’s only a big deal if the weather has been really cold and we trying to find a little warmer water. I’d say the most important “electronics” Niklaus has on his boat is the MinnKota electric engine and the Talon anchor system. By far.
Thomas – What are you going to do if you win?
Dance half naked at the after party. Maybe. And feel a little sorry for Trumman since I think he is a really good pike angler that deserves to win soon – plus he is so much older than me that I really admired him when I was younger. Much younger, of course 😉
Finally now we have two of the most experienced fly-fishermen around online – if you were to give 3-5 top tips on fly fishing for pike what would they be (for novice and more experienced fly fishermen)
For the novice:
- Take casting lessons and learn to double haul and cast well. It makes it much more fun when you don’t have to struggle with your cast.
- Fish lightly dressed and smaller flies until you cast really well. It’s no fun if it’s a lot of hard work getting the fly out there – and the profile between a fly full of material and a well built but lightly dressed fly is not that different anyway.
- Take some more casting lessons and practise some more.
- Fish shallow water when you can. It’s just more visual and more fun.
For the more experienced fly fisherman:
- Try fishing with Wiggle Tails. Sometimes they can really make a difference.
- Start tying your own flies. Mostly because you can make stuff that can’t be bought anywhere.
- Never stop experimenting with different flies. There is always a better fly that hasn’t been tied yet.
- Fish shallow water when you can. It’s just more visual and more fun.
We at FiskeFürAlle thank both Thomas and Niklaus for participating. We feel very inspired and it is not un-likely that we may be holding fly-rods in the future:-D. Magnus has already started his fly-tying career without having a fly rod – and that’s thanks to you guys 😉
//Mange, Peter & Danne