Pike are considered by many to be one of the most enjoyable fish to catch in the UK. Their fearsome reputation isn’t exaggerated; a set of razor-sharp teeth and a willingness to attack a baitfish nearly its own size makes it one of our top freshwater predators. Throughout this article, we will be giving you some advice on how to effectively target pike using lures – an active and extremely addictive method.
Globally, pike can be found in pretty much any freshwater environment (sometimes even brackish). In the UK, we are fortunate enough to have a network of over 2000 miles of canal, the vast majority of which are home to predatory fish in good numbers. Being relatively shallow, this nutrient rich water is home to an abundance of baitfish, and of course, the bigger fish that eat them. Canals are found everywhere, from city centres to deep in the countryside; most of you will live within a reasonable drive, or even walk from one. For many, this is an excellent place to try first.
Many rivers also contain pike, but many do not. If you intend on targeting them on a river, make sure you do your research on the following: what fish species are present, river specific rules and regulations and of course the fishing season. Smaller streams rarely hold enough baitfish to support a pike population, so you’ll likely have more luck on larger, deeper and slower flowing rivers.
Some still waters contain pike too, like lakes and even ponds. These kinds of places can be tricky to fish from the bank, as access can be tough, and the fish can often be out of casting range. Sometimes though, the fishing can be excellent, but it really depends on the size and type of area you’re targetting!
So, what gear do you need?
There are many kinds of pike fishing rods, starting at around £40 all the way up to around £400. The most important consideration when it comes to choosing your rod, is which cast weight to buy. This relates to the size of lure you’re able to cast and retrieve. We’ll discuss this further later, but most fishing rod cast ratings look something like the following: 5-15g, 10-30g, 20-50g, 40-80g, 100-150g and so on. With these ranges being relatively small, typically when buying your first rod, you need to decide what kind of lures you want to cast.
This restricts anglers who don’t want to buy and carry around multiple different rods with different cast weights. We’ve decided to do things differently. With our Predator rod for example, there are two interchangeable tips that alter the cast weight of the rod. The longer tip configuration can cast between 10-30g, and the shorter tip casts between 20-80g.
All you need to do is swap out the end section, and you’re covered for a huge range of lures weighing from 10 all the way up to 80 grams with just one rod. This gives you a huge amount of flexibility when you’re on the move! The Predator also comes with dual reel functionality; the micro-trigger and hybrid eyes allow you to use both a bait caster and a spinning reel.
If a telescopic rod is more your cup of tea, then the Fish Rig max offers very similar advantages. This rod is a little on the lighter side and has a cast range of around 5-50 grams between it’s three tips. This excludes you from using some winter-style pike lures, but also opens up the possibility of using it for perch, trout, chub and other smaller species. As for line, our infinite 33lb braid is absolutely perfect to load onto your reel whether it be a spinning reel like the RR3000, or a baitcaster like our Colorado one.
So, you’re probably wondering, what lure is best to catch pike on? Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer, as it depends on a number of factors. The weather, time of year, natural food source and more all affect this, but here are some useful tips. The term ‘match the hatch’ is thrown around quite a lot in fishing, mostly fly fishing, but the rule can also be applied here. When choosing a lure colour, you can’t go far wrong mimicking what the pike you’re targeting normally eat. More often than not, this will be things like roach, perch and other coarse fish. Bright colours also work well, particularly in cloudy or overcast weather.
As for the action, this also depends on conditions. In summer, pike will readily chase a fast-moving lure, like a spinner or a crankbait. In addition, topwater lures work great over the warmer months and this can be one of the most adrenaline fuelled forms of fishing. Being able to see a pike come out of nowhere and nail your lure on the surface is a feeling like no other! Click here to see a video of a pike caught using our Predator rod, on a topwater snake.
In winter, larger lures always work better. Big paddle-tailed and curly-tailed soft baits are essential, as they have an effective action even when retrieved slowly. This slow retrieve works very well in cold water temperatures, as pike will be less inclined to expend energy chasing a meal and will naturally be more sluggish. In autumn and spring, you’ll be able to find success using most lures, as long as they are fished effectively.
Tips, tricks and fish care!
My number one tip is to stay on the move. Cover a lot of water when you’re lure fishing and you’ll definitely reap the rewards. It’s much more productive to find the fish, than to wait for the fish to find you! This rule applies pretty much anywhere, but it’s always worth taking some extra time fishing around features and likely looking areas.
These ‘likely looking areas’ are places where you’re much more likely to find a predatory fish, as opposed to a long featureless stretch. I’m referring to places like canal basins, boats, marinas, reed beds, overhanging trees, deep river pools, submerged structure and more. You’ll encounter these when you’re on the move, but it’s also worth your time to identify a few using google maps before you head out. That way, you can use your time the most efficiently.
Pike safety is another hugely important aspect of fishing for them. If you haven’t handled one before, there is a technique to it. Either go with someone experienced who can teach you, or research how best to handle them on YouTube before you go! They’re easily damaged and need to be treated with the upmost respect. You need to use a wire (or very thick fluorocarbon) trace to avoid the sharp teeth snapping your line. Obviously, this would result in you not catching the fish, but it could also be a death sentence for the pike if it is left unable to feed. You can get these from most tackle shops, and they tie to your braided mainline.
You also need to carry some unhooking essentials with you at all times. An unhooking mat is especially important, so the fish isn’t damaged on any hard or dry surfaces. We sell a very compact solution, which also boasts a printed measuring scale. Long nose pliers are also very important so you stay well clear of sharp teeth while unhooking, as are hook cutters incase you can’t quite get the hooks out. Oh, don't forget an adequately sized net! Another important consideration is water temperature – it’s best to avoid pike fishing in a heatwave, as they struggle to recover in especially hot water temperatures and being caught can be fatal. In the warmer months, it’s best to try to minimise the amount of time the fish spends out of the water, and make sure it's well rested before release.
Thank you very much for reading! We hope there’s something in this article that helps you get out catching some pike, and doing so safely. If you do manage to catch some using your travel rods, we would love to hear about it. Send your catches in via email, or tag us on Instagram!