Fishing tips

Cut your dead bait in half

Sometimes, using a whole dead fish is too much, even for a pike. On some days, they prefer a smaller bite that they can instantly swallow. Try cutting your dead bait in half and use both the upper and lower half as bait. A cut fish also spreads more scent underwater, which can make all the difference during a slower session. Some of the best dead baits for pike include:

  • mackerel
  • herring
  • smelt
  • lamprey
  • shiners
  • suckers

Be mobile and try different spots

Especially when float or bobber fishing for pike, you can actually stay rather mobile and move around to fish different swims and spots. Maybe you catch a pike or two in one location and then do not get any more action. Or perhaps, the spot you’ve targeted just won’t produce any bites that day. Rather than giving up and heading home, move to the next spot and try your luck there. A big pike may be waiting for you in that spot!

Use the baitrunner function

If you decided to get a baitrunner reel, this is the perfect opportunity to use it! As tip #2 briefly explained, baitrunner reels have two drag systems; one conventional front drag and one so-called free spool function. When engaged, the free spool function lets the fish take line freely from the spool, thereby creating zero resistance for the fish and triggering the bite indication (in the form of a bite alarm, a hanger or bobbin, or simply by the sound of the rotating spool itself). When you pick up your rod and start reeling, the free spool function will automatically disengage and the reel switches over to its conventional drag system, putting you into the fight. A brilliant and very smart system for bot float and bottom fishing for pike.

Wait a little before you strike

When you get a take, keep your calm and wait a few extra seconds before you strike. I know this is going to be difficult, as your head will tell you to strike as soon as you get that take. But trust me, waiting just a few extra seconds can drastically increase your rate of success. Pike often attack their prey from the side, and then slowly turn the fish in their mouth, preparing it to be swallowed head-first. Once again, if your hook or hooks are positioned wrongly, you will not set them if you strike too early. So, remain cool and wait 5-10 seconds, it’ll pay off!

Use two treble hooks

Pike mouths are extremely big and it is easy for the hook to miss its target and instead end up on the outside of the predator’s mouth. It all depends on how the pike is grabbing your bait and where the hooks are placed. In order to increase your chances of actually hooking up, use 2 treble hooks, one preferably somewhere in the head region and one in the back of the baitfish.

Use a basic running rig for dead bait on the bottom

If you have never fished with dead bait on the bottom before, you should go as basic as possible in the beginning. The perfect bottom rig for beginners is the basic running rig. It includes a freely running weight on your line, a swivel and then your leader with the treble hooks on it. When a pike picks up the dead bait and starts to swim off with it, the line it’ll pull will run freely through the weight, causing no resistance that the fish might feel and giving you a nice and clear bite indication on the other end. This simple rig is so effective that even seasoned pros still use it. Very often, simplicity wins over overly advanced set-ups, beginner or not!

Start off with a simple float rig for live bait

The easiest way to present a live baitfish is by using a float. Such a set-up allows the baitfish to move relatively freely and thereby enables you to cover a bigger area in the water. As will be explained in tip #40, it is crucial that you are using an appropriately sized float for your baitfish. Additionally, all you need is a float stop, a sinker, a swivel, as well as your wire leader with two treble hooks attached to it.

Buy a spinning reel and a baitrunner with a few ball bearings

The same logic applies to fishing reels; there are literally hundreds of reels out there and many of them cost a lot of money and have features that you don’t really need. Get yourself a qualitative spinning reel and baitrunner with at least 3-4 steel ball bearings and you are good to go. Ball bearings are used to reduce the rotational friction of your reel. They simply make the reeling in more smoothly, something that is especially important when it comes to spin fishing, as you are casting out and reeling in quite a lot. Your spinning reel (used for lure fishing) should have a line capacity of about 150-200m of 0.25mm braided mainline. You can find a great spinning reel for pike fishing on Amazon here. Your baitrunner (used for live and dead baiting, as well as for trolling) should be able to hold around 150-200m of 0.35mm monofilament mainline.

Pro Tip: Baitrunner reels have a second drag system, which can be very helpful when fishing for pike on the bottom, as tip #37 will explain in more detail.

Start with conventional spinning rods

There is plenty of high-end pike gear out there and you can end up spending a fortune on various rods, but you really don’t have to. Most pike fishing can be done with a conventional spinning rod and if you are just starting out, that’s exactly the type of rod you should get. This species does not demand a high level of finesse, and in my opinion, it’s much more important to learn all the basics of pike fishing when you are new to the sport. Start simple and learn as much as you can. You can gear up later on if you feel the need to do so. A medium-heavy action spinning rod is a perfect fit for most pike lures. For lighter trolling, float fishing, and ledgering, a somewhat longer heavy action spinning rod of 8-9ft will definitely suffice to start off with. Just make sure you are buying rods with a decent backbone. It will help you cast further and get more control over a fighting fish. Check out my favorite pike spinning rod on Amazon here.

Plan Your Trip

You should always plan your fishing trips if you want to increase your odds of catching some fish. This might sound intimidating but planning your trip only takes a few minutes before you leave. As we’ve mentioned on this list you will want to check:

  • Where are these trout stocked?
  • When was the most recent stocking date?
  • What does the weather look like?
  • Are you fishing from the shore, dock, or boat? Once you answer these questions you can plan out your trip. This helps you setup your rig properly for the bait or lures you’ll be using.