The Pike Angler's Club specialises in pike fishing and organises trips and teach-ins. I would strongly advise any would-be pike angler to join the local branch of this great organisation. Your local tackle shop should be able to provide you with the address of your nearest branch. Some clubs also arrange pike fishing teach-ins; again these are often organised through the local P.A.C. branch.
There are three main methods of fishing for pike which are; livebaiting, deadbaiting and using artificial lures. In this introduction I am only going to cover deadbaiting. This is because in my opinion this is the easiest way to start off piking.
The basic tackle to start pike fishing appears to be getting cheaper. I saw a rod and reel combo, ideal for starting pike fishing, in my local tackle shop for well under £40.
Most pike rods are between 11 and 12ft long with a test curve between 2.25 and 3.25lb. This rod has to cast a fairly heavy weight that can be the equivalent of a fish caught on match gear from some waters. There is plenty of choice as most anglers use the same rods for carp as they do for pike fishing. As distance casting is often necessary I would look for a rod that has a progressive action.
Any standard large fixed spool reel will be ideal as it will hold a good amount of the heavy line required for pike fishing. Although many anglers use the same bait runner reel as they use for carp fishing, this is not necessary.
As you are often cast heavy weights for large fish the line will need to be strong. Most anglers use about 12lb b.s. line.
There is a danger when either livebaiting or deadbaiting of the pike swallowing the bait. This, with inexperienced anglers, can cause a nasty death for the pike. Therefore we need to be on guard against deep hooking and use rigs that enable us to easily detect a run and so strike immediately.
Pike have sharp teeth that will bite through nylon line so we mount our hooks on a wire trace that the pike's teeth will not damage. Treble hooks are normally used on a wire trace in what is called a 'snap tackle'. These can be purchased from any tackle shop ready to use, just like hooks-to-nylon for ordinary fishing. I always attach my snap tackles to a swivel, then the line - this avoids the danger of the wire cutting through the nylon. It is best to buy semi barbless snap tackle as these are kinder to the fish and more easily removed. Also, since I changed to these rigs, I noticed that I lost far fewer fish as the barbless hooks penetrated so much more easily. The trebles are called 'semi-barbless' because two of the three hooks are barbless but the third barbed hook goes into the deadbait so that it does not fly off when casting. Only the barbless hooks are left exposed for the pike.
You will also need forceps and a leather glove for unhooking. Gags, in my opinion, are barbaric instruments that can seriously harm the fish. If you must use one, cover the sharp ends with PVC tape or rubber sleeves to protect the pike. However I prefer to turn the pike on it's back and use the leather glove to keep it's lower jaw open.
You really need to be shown the technique by an experienced angler to appreciate how easy and neat it can be. Again the PAC or large clubs like RMC Angling often have teach-ins to show the technique.
Free lining can result in a lot of deep hook fish. For that reason my advice is to start off float fishing your deadbait, either off the bottom or just on. Do not leave a lot of line on the bottom as pike can take your bait without giving a clearly visible take. My advice is to use a fairly modern pike float fished bottom end only with the deadbait with both hooks in it on the bottom with about four inches of line. A run will be clearly visible with this rig; any movement is a take as the bait is dead.
I have used ordinary coarse fishing wagglers as bite detectors when fishing a sprat close in and believe me it catches plenty of pike.
A good tip that is especially relevant for pike fishing is to carry a bottle of Detol or other antiseptic in case of any cuts.
A mackerel head or tail is very popular. Sprats, smelt, herring, sardines and any other sea bait works, as do any coarse fish or lamprey. Most tackle shops have a good supply of frozen deadbaits. It really depends on the day and the water as to which is the best bait. For that reason most pike anglers take a good selection of deadbaits when they go fishing.
With the exception of Cornwall, pike are fairly well distributed throughout the country. There is an old saying "Pike thrive on neglect" which is very relevant to pike fishing today. Waters that are not heavily fished for pike are often the best. This is particularly true when fishing rivers where pike tend to be ignored and consequently can be relatively easily caught. For this reason, I use the Thames for much of my pike fishing.
Pike fishing can be a great branch of our sport but as I said earlier, to get the best out of pike fishing get some help in starting. Now is a good time to join the Pike Anglers Club
Visit the PAC website at: