Fly fishing for perch has become very popular in recent years. Not least because of YouTube formats such as Perch Pro, many fly fishers have discovered the fascination for the colourful predator fish that can be found in many domestic waters. We spoke with Steffen Schulz about this great target fish for the fly and asked the predator enthusiast for his personal tips & tricks. In the last part of our interview series we will then talk about the Zander.
adh-fishing: Hi Steffen! If you are followed on Instagram (steffen_schulz_flyfish), your passion for perch is obvious. What fascinates you so much about this fish?
Steffen Schulz: The Perch is not only the most beautiful predatory fish in our country, I think it is also the most versatile fish to fish for in terms of spots and methods. For the fact that it is rather a small fish, it also fights extremely well.
adh-fishing: You also fished for perch with a spinning rod for many years. Which experiences from this time help you today to catch perch with a fly?
Steffen Schulz: I wouldn't miss my spinning history for anything. Through it I have got to know countless waters at home and abroad and know exactly when and where to catch the big ones. For exploring waters a spinning rod has a clear advantage, which is logical, because you can cover much more distance in a short time.
adh-fishing: What do you see as the advantages of fly-fishing for perch?
Steffen Schulz: Obviously in the silent, slow presentation. An extremely small, almost transparent streamer in baitfish design in midsummer or just a 8 to 12 cm long baitfish streamer in autumn and winter: Nothing looks so good in the water, nothing comes as close to the original baitfish. Especially in cold water or on very tough days the fly is unbeatable and that from 0 to 10 m water depth. Everywhere we get close to the perch. And who wants to fish deeper?
adh-fishing: You also fish for perch a lot from the belly boat. What do you look for when you search for a new spot?
Steffen Schulz: Yes, fishing from the belly boat in combination with the fly rod is unbeatable. I always make sure that I fish near deep water. Plateaus, "mountains", edges, land noses from 2 to 6m depth with hard bottom, mussels near to 20m water and more.
adh-fishing: What kind of equipment do you have on board your Belly when you're out a full day hunting for Perch?
Steffen Schulz: For longer trips I currently fish from the Sevenbass Flatform Junior, for short trips from a smaller model. Both of them I use with the lazy method, with a small electric engine. A side imaging and live-mapping capable device helps a lot in the search for hot spots. The big screens suck energy without end, a 20Ah lithium battery is at least necessary. App-enabled devices are ingenious. Yes, belly-boat fishing has developed madly, everything is highly technical and just incredibly efficient. But if you want to (and know your waters), you can keep it much simpler. The important thing is simply to know about the structures under water.
adh-fishing: What does your personal setup for perch fishing look like at the moment?
Steffen Schulz: I usually have two 6-weight rods with me, a Hardy Zephrus SWS with a 5000 MTX and a Cortland Compact Sink Type 9 and a Hardy HBX with a 5000 MTX-S and a Cortland Compact Sink Type 3.
adh-fishing: The leader is also an important part of perch fishing. What does your rig look like?
Steffen Schulz: An article on precisely this topic has just been published in the current issue of Fisch & Fliege (issue 62 from page 11). The title "Vorfächer: Drei für Räuber." For perch I keep my leaders quite short. About 1m to 1.5m Stroft FC1 in 0,28 mm with a 4,90 kg carrying Stroft Niti Polywire tip. If you can rule out pike bites, then you can also use a slightly thinner and / or without a wire. But surprises are not rare when perch fishing.
adh-fishing: Pike streamers and perch flies sometimes differ considerably. What do you look for in a perch streamer and what are your favourites?
Steffen Schulz: Personally, i use only a few patterns. Grey white, fluogreen white, dark green white with stripes. With these you never go wrong anywhere. 5 to 8 cm and 10 to 12 cm are sufficient for all seasons and waters. I like EP fibres and a slim silhouette. Just like a small, real fish. Even with typical sea trout streamers I have already catched very well. You can extend and specialize all this forever, concerning the sinking behaviour and action. But actually this is enough - and not only for the beginning.
adh-fishing: Perch can be found in many different waters. You are specialized in big lakes. What are your tactics here?
Steffen Schulz: Above I have already talked a little bit about typical spots. At big lakes it is necessary to cover a lot of water and make distance, be it from the shore or belly boat. If perch are in place and even if they bite badly, they will ALWAYS make themselves noticeable by following or holding on to the fibres, so my experience. Sometimes they also ignore the classic jigs completly. But a streamer: almost never!
adh-fishing: What other waters are recommended for perch and what should be considered when selecting waters?
Steffen Schulz: To be honest, as long as there is no super strong current, even rivers are good too. But I really haven't done much fishing there until now. Lakes with river connections always have perch in suspicious places, even in summer. Often they move around a lot then. I'm talking about the dredging lakes in Holland. The cold season is just more grateful there and you have a chance to get the really fat cherries. At German natural lakes or even at our dams, things go very well in summer, especially in terms of frequency.
adh-fishing: Perch are not always found at the same spots throughout the year. Where do you see the biggest differences between spring, summer, autumn and winter fishing?
Steffen Schulz: Mass in summer and early autumn, class in winter. In summer, perch swim incredible distances, eat extremely much, have a high metabolism and are active in open water a lot. Sure, if you have overhanging trees with deep water, they can always be caught there. But in autumn and winter they can be found much more intensively at the structures already mentioned, they are then more loyal to their location and easier to fish. In addition, in summer and early autumn the capital perches share the places with smaller conspecifics, the smaller ones are first on the hook. That can be annoying. In winter the shallow water belongs to the thick ones and the younger ones are at 20m plus home, wonderful.
adh-fishing: Many fly fishers start their predatory fishing career with pike. What is your advice to make it successful with the perch?
Steffen Schulz: Very simple: Buy a 6-weight rod, the mentioned lines, any reel and the mentioned streamers or tie these patterns. Off to the water and have fun.
adh-fishing: The first hurdle for a perch is the 40cm amrk. Such a fish is already very old. Why is it so difficult to catch a big perch and which tricks do you know?
Steffen Schulz: Well, at the right waters at the right time, it's not that hard. Dams, large natural lakes and the quarry ponds in Holland, everywhere you can crack the 40 cm mark relatively quickly. With the fly, many still lack confidence. Persevere and fish. You should fish bigger streamers, especially when there are lots of smaller perch biting. Catching less also means that the hook remains free for the big perch, which becomes aware of the smaller ones by hacking around.
adh-fishing: What was your personal highlight of perch fishing? How often did you break the magic mark of 50 cm.
Steffen Schulz: My personal highlight were two fishing days in a row with 3 times 50 plus a day and many 40+ perches. But I admit that I prefer to fish for one perch a day rather than several smaller ones. Both are fun but everything beyond 50 is just magical and ingenious on the fly rod. I have been able to break the 50 mark many times by now, I don't know for sure, to be honest. But at 40 plus I still have weak knees and I also celebrate a 30 perch that has bitten hard and is going at it. Nothing can be taken for granted and if you are no longer happy or think that big Perch are normal, then you can stop fishing.
adh-fishing: In recent years, fishing for exotic species has become more and more popular. This includes the Peacock Bass, which can be caught in Brazil or Colombia, for example. These related species of perch weigh over 10kg. Does a trip to South America ever appeal to you?
Steffen Schulz: If I'm invited by a happy coincidence, yes, I won't say no. But at the moment perch, pike and pike-perch tempt me just like on the first day, I sleep badly before every tour and I'm burning for this fly-fishing, the exotics can wait a bit.
adh-fishing: Thanks for the talk, Steffen!