Pike Baits
"How to" Article

Fishing Equipment

Pike Baits, Tips, Pike Fishing Secrets

Pike Baits

Presenting

Matt Dean tells you how to 'spice up' your baits in order to make them irresistible to pike...

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You can catch pike on a wide variety of deadbails, but simply threading a semi- frozen mackerel onto a treble hook isn't going to catch you as many its you'd get if you thought about your bait presentation. Yes, it's true to say that there are a lot of ways you can present deadbails for pike that will help increase the amount of action you get. And that's the intention of this article - to help you catch more pike this winter. I think that pike, indeed any fish,are much more likely to consume a hook bait if it looks good, smells good and tastes good. If you don't believe me, look at the way a top trout angler presents his fly. He does it meticulously, in order to convince his quarry that it is the real thing. If lie makes the smallest mistake with this presentation, the chances are the fish won't take. Why should the same not be true in pike fishing? Also, watch any modem television programme on carp fishing. You will see that carp anglers spend as much time preparing and flavouring baits as they do fishing with them! So, again, why shouldn't pike anglers do the same? I put a lot of thought and attention into my bait choice and presentation for pike. I can't afford not to. With this in mind, here are some tips that might catch you more predators from the rivers and loughs of Ireland this winter.

1. Buy Fresh

I always buy fresh baits from the fishmonger and freeze them myself. It's more time consuming but the result is worth it. It is easy to buy really fresh herring, mackerel and sardines. Used fresh, these are some of the best baits you can mount on your traces. Now,don't think I'm kinky, but having bought these fresh fish, take time to smell them. Learn to recognise that 'fresh smell. If your bait doesn't have that fresh smell on the bank don't use it, unless you absolutely have no other choice!

There ure good reasons for this. One is that there is a certain fimines; to a fresh fish's flesh (try to say that altera whiskey or two). Even after only a couple of hours in the water this can change. If you want to try it for yourself, cast two baits out close to each other when you next go fishing - one being liesh and one refrozen. I would put money on the one that will be Liken by a pike first. So if you can, use fresh bait.

2. Size Matters!

The other thing about buying whole fish from the fishmonger is that you can choose the best size. It is possible to get two baits per fish if you cut them slanting through the guts with a sharp fillet knife when frozen. This is very cost-effective. Do not underestimate the value of the head end of the bait, it is every bit its good as the tail end. Although I have never found pike to be particularly fussy over which type of bait it Likes, it is often the head end of in y bait that goes first and, usually, to bigger pike! On other occasions small bait, like sardines, can work more effectively than large mackerel or herring. If you can choose a selection of differently sized hook bai Ls,you shouldn't be going too far wrong.

3.Injecting Oils

There are certain things you can do to your baits to make them as attractive to pike as possib le. However,on most sessions I always try at least one hook bait fished in an "au natural' manner. The natural oils in sea fish especially are good at tract ants to feeding pike. Altera period of time with no runs, I will try something a bitdifferent. Fish oil can be injected into a dead mackerel,and different-coloured deadbaitscan be cast out. Have you ever caught using a led herring? I have! A yellow mackerel could also work, or even a blue sardine! There are plenty of food-colouring sprays available,so give one a go and see what happens.

You can mix these oils to make a secret concoction that might lure pike to your bait.

Maybe the little changes like this that you make will he enough to trigger a run and save the day, or turn a one-fish catch into a multiple success. Injecting oils into deadbaits is one of the things you should consider strongly. Be very careful with syringes, though, as injecting yourself by accident can he fatal. I don't inject too much oil, bu t other anglers like to create a slick similar to that of a sinking oil Linker! One thing I have witnessed on shallow loughs is the appearance of oil on the surface as the pike bites, just before the alarm goes off. There are many oils available, including sardine, smelt, lamprey,eel and mullet. You can mix these oils to make a secret concoction that might lure pike to your bait. If you're really catching well, take your friends to the local pub and get them to buy you a few drinks before revealing your secrets!

4. Hook Spacing

On Rigs Hook spacing is another thing I pay attention to,even wi th large bait. I won't have the hooks more than three inches (90 millimetres) apart,as this is wheie you can get into trouble with deeply hooked pike. I have a rig wallet mude up of pike traces with various spacing and it is just a matter of finding one to suit the selected bait. You can, of course, make a custom trace. When float fishing or puternostering,you can change the way your hook bait is presented underwater by altering the positions of the hooks in it. For instance, you can tail hook a mackerel half in the traditional way oryoucan try suspending it horizontally from the lake bed underneath a float. You may be pleasantly surprised to find how effective such a simple change can be. I especially like to suspend a herring horizontally under a float, just above the bottom, on a day with a light ripple on the surface.

The way the float hobs up and down, imparting slight movement into the bait, is one reason I think this method is so productive. Even a change in the way you hang the bait can trigger a run. Fish half a herringona float on one day, then try a paternoster the next. That is how the pike like it sometimes.

5. Pressured Pike

Lege ring a popped- up deadb ait is without doubt one of the deadliest presentations you can offer a pike . On a weedy bottom, it also helps the pike to find the bait more easily. Raising the bait off the bottom can be enough to make even the most stubborn pike bite. You can use various methods to pop up a deadhait. Polyballs, foam or balsa inserts all work well. One or two polyballs in tandem, connected just above the bait,can be a deadly presentation. On loughs that suffer from heavy angling pressure, where polyballs have already been used, pike may be put off. This is where the balsa insert comes in. I know that a subtle change like this can make a difference. I did not believe it at first but when a friend introduced me to a new water he told me that polyballs would put the pike off on this lough. "Oh yes," I thought, thinking I knew better. I carried on setting up with polyballs and fished with them for four hours without a run, while my friend put two good fish on the bank without them. I figured that I had better change to bait that had some buoyancy concealed inside it, and only then did I catch a fish.

6. Balsa Inserts

It is a fairly simple operation to insert a balsa pop-up into a dead fish. First, attach a loop of wire to the eye of a 3in balsa insert. Then hollow out a cavity in the fish's mouth with your forceps. Insert a baiting needle through the side of the baitand out through the mouth. Next, put the loopoverthe baiting needleand pull it out through the side of the bait. As you do this, the balsa insert is pulled into the cavity. Put the loop of wire over the wire trace and attach the hooks in the normal way. By doing it in this way, it" yon lose the bait you will get the balsa insert back because the loop of wire will catch on the hooks as you wind in. There are many different-sized balsa inserts and polyballs available in specialist shops. The size of each will allow you to control how much of the bait you want popped up. You can also create a presentation in which the head of the bait is lifted from the hot torn of the lake, with the body and tail still on the bottom.

7. Pop Them Up!

Alternatively, you can have the whole of the bait suspended well off the bottom. Check how your bait looks in the margins before casting it out. Once you have done it a few times you will know how much buoyancy you will need for each chosen bait. No two mackerel ate the same size so, if you want to pop one up, test it before casting out! Popping updeadbaits is one of the most awesome methods around, but it takes a little time to learn. By paying out line after your bait has settled, you can vary the distance the poppedup bait is allowed to rise. I would not raise it more than three feet as this could cause deep-hooking problems. More than three feet gives the pike too much chance to swallow the bait before the alarm sounds. Keep within safe limits and you will sensitively detect a take. If you want your bait suspended higher, use a float or paternoster.

8. Pike Love Sausages

Another fun thing you can do is to catch with an unusual bait. Uncooked sausages are a favourite of mine and can often save a blank day. It doesn't matter if it's a pork or beef sausage, it's up to you. but my biggest pike on a "porker* went just under 14lb, honest! You need to tie sausages onto the trace, and they are not very good for distance work. But a big old lady can't usually refuse a suspended sausage in the margins. Kippers are worth a try, too. I have caught small pike to 71b on kippers. A t the moment I am experimenting with some other unusual baits, but they ate 'classified' right now. I will let you know how I get on with them in the future. All things considered,though,natural deadbaits for pike are probably the best. Try dead roach, rudd, perch,eels and skimmer bream. These are all good baits, as are all the various sea baits you can buy, but make sure you get them vacuum packed and blast frozen from a reputable tackle shop or via mail order. Rather than re freezing thawed bails at the etid of the day, chop them up and bait up your swim before you leave. This is where they'll do the most good. Whatever you do, don't refreeze bait and use it again - it will have lost its effectiveness. Fresh is best!

9. Luck And that's it for this month.

I wish you all the best with your winter piking this season. I hope that a few of the tactics and baits I've outlined will catch you something special. If they do, why not send your catch picture in? I, for one, would love to see it!

Spring Pike lures

The top Angler's Choice for pike fishing as the ice melts in lakes and reservoirs is often a size 12 or 14.

Rapala Husky Jerk - Glass Pink Clown


Rapala Husky Jerk Rapaia Husky Jerk in Clown or Glass Perch color.


Fire Tiger can be productive also. The Husky Jerk is fished with an erratic retrieve including extending pauses allowing the lure to suspend. The strike often occurs while the lure is paused and motionless.

Large Pike Spoons

Syclops lures: Pike can be caught with large spoons in the spring. Some of the best choices will be the Eppinger Dardevle or Mepps Syclops spoons in firetiger orfive-of-diamonds color. The best size is usually 3/4 to 1 ounce.

Syclops Firetiger by Mepps

Spring pike can be enticed with a dead smelt suspended from a slip bobber. The smelt should hang level and be rigged to suspend about 1 foot from the bottom. A quick strike rig constructed with two number 2 treble hooks and a steel leader is an effective pike smelt rig.

Storm WildEye Live Perch

As the hungry Pike cruise the warming shallows in the spring they will often hit soft baits such as the Berkley Power Minnow in perch fish or the Storm WildEye Live Perch. The 4 inch size is a good place to start but occasionally the 3-inch
will work better.

The most fun a pike angler can have is catching pike on top water lures. This is not always productive but when it is, it is fantastic.

The Zara Spook

The Zara Spook in Black Shiner by Heddon

The Zara Spook in Black Shiner is a great top water lure to try to tempt a pike with on a calm, warm spring day. The resulting explosion when a pike cooperates is one of the most exciting experiences in fishing.


Learn more to catch more. The northern pike - General knowledge about northern pike.