Fishing for Pike (Part 1 What You Need)

Pike fishing is one of my all time loves.

I can think of nothing more enjoyable than sitting being the baited rods waiting for old Esox to send the alarms screaming or the thrill of a pike hitting a retrieve lure or wobbled bait.

Pike were the first fish I encountered as a boy, when Daniel from the Rectory Cottages caught and unfortunately killed a 15lb fish.

But ever since that day when I saw that magnificent pike, I was hooked not only on fishing, but catching pike.

To me the pike is the most superb predator and has all the weapons in its armoury to catch prey. With its sharp teeth, huge mouth, speed, agility and camouflage there are a natural born killer. They are also merciless in their approach and will prey on their own kind when encounter and will consume pike that are of a similar szie when in their early years of development.

My best to date is of 22lb, caught many years ago now, but I still remember her and the sheer size of that head.

So how do we fish for them, well there are many methods you can adopt to catch them, but predominately they are caught on a type of bait, lure or fly.
For me, I stick to bait and lure, but one day I would love to go after them on the fly and I've taken rainbow trout to 12lb and brown trout to 5lb the fly, so I can't imagine what a pike is like on a fly rod.

So here what I believe you need do get and do as a beginner to pike fishing.

The Pike Angling Club of Great Britain (PAC) is were, if I was a newcomer to pike fishing, I would go, join and learn initially. The club and forum is very friendly and is full of great information and advice. I just wish I had joined it many years ago, but I've now been a member for the last 3 years and even now as an experienced pike angler I find new things to learn from the other members.

Rods and Reels

This is were the mine field begins, because everyone has their own favoured types of pike fishing, so I talk about what I like to use.

Rods are 12" 3lbTC Harrison built rods. I picked them up a couple of years ago and find them ideal for my type of fishing from the bank on large still water. They are powerful rods and have served me well.
Shimano 6000B GTE & Billys Backbiter
There now are many different brands of rods on the market, but as a beginner I would go for either the Grey Prowla range, Diawa Mission or if money isn't an issue I get some P1or BB350 from Dave Lumb . But at 150+ quid a rod there are not cheap, but will last forever and a day.

Reels are a bit easier shimano baitrunners or big bit reels. I use both 6000B GTE baitrunners and Shimano Ultegra 12000 XTA big pt reels.

Line, Hooks, Traces & Other Tackle

For main line, you normally in either camp of mono or braid. I use both depending on the situation and location. 70% of my pike fishing is with mono due to its resistance to abrasion. I use either 15lb Berkley Big Game 15lb moss green or 15lb Diawa Sensor brown . I have used both over the years depending on the price or a bulk spool and cannot either of fault them. For my braid, I use a Berkley 45lb Whiplash moss green due to it low diameter, it makes distance casting a breeze with a big pit type reel.

Hooks were an easy one for me, ST-36BC, but they have a habit of straighting, so after some advice I have changed to the stronger size 4 or 6 Owner ST-41BC trebles depending on bait size. Other makes that are excellent are Partridge or Eagle Claw or if you prefer doubles check out the VB ones. I have tried singles and can see there benefits, but I am happy with trebles so will continues to use them.


For my trace wire I have used American Fishing Wire-Surfstrand Standard 30lb (crimped) or Mr Softee 35lb (twisted). Both are excellent wire, but for traces on the distance fish baits I prefer the trace made up in Mr Softee due to its kink resistance and suppleness. If you not up for making you traces either get them fro Eddie Turner or from Pikemaster traces

 This is my tackle box. Nice and small, but holds what I need for my rigs e.g.bombs, floats, beads spare trace wire, swivels etc. Nothing in it is out of the ordinary from any other pikers tackle box, but what I don't have is hundreds of leads and other terminal tackle that weighs you down. Its amazing how many leads you can soon acquire and lug around all winter. You only need a couple of spares and of each, unless you planning for be out for a few days of more at a time. Keep it light and simple and then you'll not feels weight down with gear. Its amazing what you can end up lugging about. Take what you need/what. I do take other stuff like maps, bird book, binoculars and cheap waterproof over trouser, but i no longer take radio, because I enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors.

Bite Detection

There are many types of bite detection on the market depending on what method you are using. A float is the basic and most visual way of seeing if a run is developing. It amazing how many angler don't use a float anymore for there pike fishing. Instead preferring to fishing baits hard on the bottom.
I like fishing for pike using a float as it helps we search out a water was I constantly recasting every 15-20 minutes in order to cover the water.
I used to use a lot of shop bought pencil shaped floats, but after many fell apart after a relative shop time, I took the decision to make my own. I have found that you can make many from one 1m length of dow

My main bite detection system for the majority of my fishing is the rear drop off alarm. The earliest version I had was the original ET back biters. These were very basic and just consisted of a drop off arm, mounted to a reed switch, which when moved made a contact and sounded through a audible speaker. The only other component they had was an on/off switch.

I did for a while move onto a front alarm (Optonic) with a bobbin, but I found that drop back bites didn't always register.

Then in 2008, I came across Steve Bown (PAC, Pike Angler of the Year 2010) alarms, Billys Backbiters. This quite simply are the dogs do dars. With inbuilt on/off toggle switch, volume control, weight drop arm and LED run lamp, Steve have quite simply taken and improved upon on the old ET version from the 80's.

Unhooking & Weighing Equipment

These are the most important piece of kit in order to safely and efficiently unhook pike. More pike are killed due to poor handling and unhooking techniques that anything else , except maybe bad bit detection.
Pike are a fragile species and need firm, but careful handling to avoid damages to them and you.
Please only attempted to unhook pike once you have been shown by an experienced angler and are confident in unhook them on your own.

Here is what I carry:-

42" Landing Net
Unhooking mat (min 32" length and 12" width)
2 x forcepts 8" and 12" pair
Side cutters
Long nose pliers
Glove (optional)
Weight sling & scales (optional)
Camera (optional)

Rigs & Methods

There are lots of ways of presenting bait and for me I like to have each rod on a different method and different bait. Where permitted, I fish three rods, hard on the bottom on a running ledger, off the bottom using a semi buoyant ledger with pop-up bait or paternoster rig and generally a roving float method ,drift float if condition are favourable.


Bait is easy, if it is a fish the pike will probably eat it, so most coarse or sea baits will work, but some are better than others. Here a few I use,

Sea baits (Mackerel, Herring, Smelt etc)
Live or Dead Coarse Fish (Roach, Bream etc)

My session bait is carried in a rigid Colemans fliplid 4.7L cooler box. Had it for years and it keeps my bait frozen all day long with a small freezer pack along with the baits and if you go for the brighter colours that no one else whats you can get them on the keep. Mines turquoise

Artificial Lures

One of my favourite methods during the early season. I'm afraid I not a fan of spinning for pike in the summer and tend to only use it during late September early October. I just don't want a dead pike on my hands, so I choose not to fish for pike at all during the hotter months. I have plenty of other species to go after anyhow.

I have a good selection of lures ranging for simple spoons to fancy dawgs and a couple of jerkbaits. I must admit to being a fan of Rapala Tormentors, especially in the Firetiger colour either in it jointed form or straight. Pike just seem to love them. Also bought a few polish made holographic lures by a company called Wirek. I have one spoon in particular that was a killer lure during my maiden trip to the Broads accounting for 7 fish out of 11 caught. Just a shame they are hard to get hold off in the UK.

So that's about it for part 1, which is the basics. So all you need is a decent rucksack to carry you tackle and food/drink for the day along with bank sticks etc.

If you in doubt about pike fishing, handing or unhooking pike please go out with an experience piker or an angling coach.

Part 2 on location, location, location to follow soon.

TL for now