A lot of people get fooled into thinking that pike fishing is like carp fishing, only you change the trace to wire. Not so. Generally speaking, if you are going out to catch pike, then you need gear that is made for the job. These days, most carp and pike rods are too stiff, great for casting, but not so brilliant for playing fish. Despite what you read, most pike anglers catch a lot of fish in the 5 - 14lb bracket, so you can easily outgun them.
Most pike are caught within 20 yards of the bank, be it river or lake, of course, the big lakes, lochs and loughs are a different matter, but for the moment let’s just stick to bank fishing our local waters. You’ll need an 11ft or 12ft rod that has a test curve of between 2lb and 2½ lbs. I would say 2¼lb is ideal for most situations with a through to progressive action.
Next you need a reel loaded with some line, either 12-15lb monofilament or 30lb braid, go for a 3000 or 3500 sized reel with a decent drag, you may want a free-spool ‘runner’ type system although I have never used one. Don’t get caught up in thinking you need huge reels loaded with miles of line, that is for very specialised pike fishing that we may come onto in the ‘advanced’ series.
A reasonable rod pod that takes two rods is always usefull, along with some drop arm indicators. I have never used an electronic bite indicator, and don’t own one. I find they are a good excuse to not concentrating on your fishing, but if you feel the need, there are some good ones now available for reasonable amounts of money. Make sure the bobbins are big enough to be seen and heavy enough to create enough tension for good bite indication.
The business end of your pike equipment should always terminate in a wire trace of minimum 20lb breaking strain. You can make up your own, which I find very relaxing or you can buy ready made ones that are all excellent quality. Look for sized 6 or 8 trebles on your rig. These should deal with most deadbait and livebait situations. Use baits in the 6 - 9 inches size, they are perfectly adequate until you have gained experience and may want to move to more exotic and differing offerings. Good deadbaits include seabaits such as mackerel (small ones or cut in half), herrings and sardines, for freshwater look for roach, eel sections and small trout.
Once you get a run, make sure the fish is peeling off line, then wind up to the fish and strike hard, keeping the pressure on. Pike can alternate from heavy and steady pressure to savage runs where they accelerate at an alarming rate. Make sure you have your reel clutch set for this, and remember that they can often take off when they near the net, so be ready for that. Speaking of nets, a minimum of 36 inch arms for a triangular net is a must or use a round net with a minimum diameter of 24 inches.
Once you have your fish in the net, get them to your unhooking mat or long grass and unhook them using long nosed pliers or artery forceps, and you’ll probably want an unhooking glove for this. It is always wise to go with an experienced pike angler to learn how to handle them, look to join your local Pike Anglers’ Club region, there are anglers who are always willing to help you. Other than that look up
www.pacgb.co.uk and you’ll find plenty of assistance of where to go, and who to contact.
About the author
Chris Leibbrandt has been an angler most of his life, at least 45 years anyway! Known primarily as a predator angler, he is a pretty consistent all-rounder fishing for anything, although river fly fishing and lure fishing are probably his biggest passions. Working in the tackle trade for twenty odd years, he has also run the Pike Anglers’ Club (PAC) and the Lure Anglers’ Society (LAS), being an Honorary life member of both. Chris is currently President of the LAS, and editor of their magazine, Chris is a published writer, designer, raconteur and wit.
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