Keep It Simple When Pike Fishing

Whenever you plan to do a bit of pike fishing, this mantra will keep you in good stead: "keep it simple." Yes, you heard it right. The biggest challenge is locating big pike so don't complicate things even further.

In terms of pike fishing tackle, start with a 12ft pike rod and a big pit reel loaded with 60lb braid. In terms of bait, 'live baiting' is effective, but put that aside for the moment. A simple running, resistance-free leger covers a lot of situations, but never freeline a bait because bite indication is just not quick enough.

Stillwater BPX Compact Big Pit Reel
If weed is a problem, it is preferable to use a loaded float and fish the deadbait just overdepth, so the moment it's picked up a take is registered.

CJT Loaded Pike Float
For all other bite indication, use a drop-off indicator at the rear and an bite alarm to the front. There are many good quality bite alarms on the market, but some of the favourites include Optonic and Delkim.

Delkim EV Plus
Trace material and hooks are the same as for river fishing but for stillwaters, lakes, lochs etc, Smelts and Sardines are at the top of the list - especially with some of the UK's top pike anglers - with Herring and Mackerel in close contention. The key thing to remember is scent and where you cast.  You can inject bait oils to create an enticing slick.

Daiwa Black Widow Deadbait Rod
Deadbaiting requires patience. If you are pike fishing in a river, there is a greater need for mobility, but unless you have pre-baited your swim it's worthwhile moving swims regularly. It can be difficult to predict the hotspots year-on-year. Lure fishing with soft lures can be used to locate the hotspots but livebaiting under a drifter float can be deadly. With this tactic, so much water can be covered, and quickly, as the big sail pulls floating braid off the pike reel.

Pike Drifter Float
When using a drifter float, set the depth well off the bottom so you don't snag in the weed - a pike will easily see a silhouette bait - and then cast at the tail of the wind. Point the rod into the air, open the bail arm and the whole width or length of the water can be covered. There are few better signs than watching a distant float slide sideways and then disappear from view.

Fox Compact Unhooking Mat
When you are fishing through winter, don't be despondent about reaching for the thermals. It's this time of year where pike fishing is at its most exciting, therefore don't let a few layers get in the way of the fish of a lifetime.

To summarise, here are 5 Top Tips, which are simple, but highly effective in your pursuit of big winter Pike:

  1. Believe it or not, the best colour for a drifter float, for 90 per cent of the time, is black. 
  2. With livebaits always use an uptrace to avoid line bites. Using 40lb seven-strand wire is very effective.  
  3. Always use strong tackle and fishing line- 60lb braid or 18lb monofilament at a minimum.  Use good quality swivels and links.
  4. Stay mobile, especially if you are fishing rivers. This means leaving the fishing chair at home, so if you need to sit down, use your unhooking mat
  5. The prime times of the day for catching pike are dawn and dusk. This is especially true on a cold, clear day.

This article was brought to you in association with Angling Times.