Rods and Reels
Most of us, when we first start lure fishing, use the same rods and reels that we use for bait fishing. Nothing wrong with that. A twelve foot, three pound test curve pike rod and fixed spool reel will happily throw most small to medium size lures. It is only when we start to use larger or more specialised lures such as jerkbaits that the limitations become apparent. As an all round lure fishing set-up, nothing beats a shorter rod of around six feet with a trigger grip, and a multiplier reel. Try fishing a large jerkbait on a long rod with mono and you will soon see what I mean. It just doesn't work!
My own lure rod is a 5'10" Prowler Plus from Dave Lumb, designed
To chuck lures in the 48 to 96 gram category. At a push I can use just about all my favourite lures on this one rod. The reel that partners this rod is an Abu 6501 C4 multiplier loaded with 100 lb braid. Having used a few different multipliers I have got to say that nothing comes close to the Abu 6501 or 5501. In fact every serious lure angler that I know uses these reels!
Lure rods is one area where, until recently, the big companies such as Shimano and Daiwa have been slow to catch up with the smaller specialist concerns. They are though gradually getting their act together and both Daiwa and Fox have recently launched ranges of decent lure rods. The widest choice however still comes from people such as Dave Lumb, who has a range of lure rods to cover all eventualities.
Short lure rods and multipliers have absolutely got to be fished in conjunction with a braided main line. Having used a few different braids I have now settled on Power Pro in 100 lb BS. Whichever braid you choose I would urge anyone to use a braid of at least 50 lbs BS. Choose any lighter and sooner or later you will crack off a lure. The 100 lb BS Power Pro has a diameter more or less equivalent to 20 lbs mono so why fish any lighter? As somebody once said, heavy braid also enables you to land a better class of snag!
When out on a lure-only session I will carry two set-ups. The short rod and multiplier reel already described is used for my medium to large size lures. A standard 12 ft pike rod of 3 lb TC and Shimano Baitrunner with braid is used for the smaller lures such as spoons, spinnerbaits and smaller crankbaits.
The smaller lures can just about be fished on a trace made from standard 30 lb pike wire. Constant casting really knocks hell out of tackle though, so for all lure fishing I would recommend a trace made from wire of at least 80 lb BS with a heavy duty swivel and snap lock. Sadly traces such as these can not be bought in most tackle shops. Dave Lumb (that man again!) and the Friendly Fisherman sell their own custom built lure traces or you could try making your own. I make my lure traces of twelve inches long from 80 lb BS QED wire, large Berkley Cross Link and a Size 5 Power Swivel. The wire, which I obtain from Harris Angling, is twisted with a twiddling stick after passing the wire twice through the eye of the swivel or snap link. The twists are first superglued and then further secured with shrink tubing.
Most of my lure-caught pike are hand landed. This is though a somewhat risky approach and is not to be recommended to the beginner as it can quite easily result in a "large treble meets finger" scenario! Unfortunately standard pike nets are not that suitable for lure caught pike as the lure can easily get badly tangled with the net when netting the pike. Much more suitable are larger diameter meshes or one of the specialist large round lure nets.
You will find when unhooking lure-caught pike that standard forceps are not much use. A decent pair of long nose pliers enables a much better grip of the treble to be obtained. Also essential are a pair of bolt cutters. If the pike is at all awkwardly hooked, simply cut the trebles to bits. Replacing the hooks on a lure will hardly break the bank and this method certainly minimises any damage to the fish.
Okay, we've looked at the tackle to use, now bring on the lures!
In a short piece like this it would be impossible to cover all the lures that are now available, so instead I will just look at my current favourites.
Bulldawgs (Fig 2.)
No surprise there. These rubber lures are simply awesome! Just cast them out, wind them back in and sooner or later a pike will bite one! Made by Musky Innovations and available in three sizes, the smallest Spring Dawg, medium size Bull Dawg and rather massive Magnum Dawg. I use all three sizes and absolutely love them to bits. The two smaller sizes are obtainable from most lure stockists, but the largest size you will have to import from the States. The only drawback with these lures is that the pikes teeth can quickly rip them apart. They can though be welded back together by the use of a lighter or a soldering iron. If you doubt the effectiveness of these lure, just ask Nev Fickling. Neville has recently landed the biggest fully authenticated pike of the season at 37 plus on one!
Somewhat out of fashion these days, but not with the pike! My all time favourite spoon has to be the Kuusamo Professor lure. My first lure-caught twenty came to one as did my biggest at 29-08.
Another Musky Innovations lure, a floating diving crankbait available in a variety of sizes, in-built rattle and a lovely wobbling action. An excellent trolling lure.
Rapala Super Shad Rap.
An all time classic from the Rapala stable. Like the Jake, it is a floating diver and is one of the best trolling lures around. At the last Blithfield session, the Super Shad Rap produced more big pike than any other lure!
Flipper / Dolphin type jerkbait.
One of the easiest types of jerkbait to use. Widely available and sold as the 'Ace Flipper', these are good lures but I have found the quality control to be a bit variable. Some of them float and others sink like a stone! Home made or custom made versions tend to be better and can be weighted much more precisely. The one in the picture I made myself. If I can do it anyone can! Quite a few custom lure makers offer their own versions of this style of lure. Perhaps the best being the Loz Harrop Darter.
Not in the picture, but excellent lures that work on most types of waters. A huge range of styles are available. I generally use spinnerbaits in the half to one and a half ounce range. Spinnerbaits, along with Dawgs are my favourite lures for river piking.
So there we have it. Half a dozen lure types that between them would cover most of the common lure fishing scenarios. If you restricted yourself to just those lures you could still catch an awful lot of pike!
The more that you work at your lure fishing, the more pike you will catch. It is not the ultimate method, and on some days, dead or livebaits will very much out-fish lures. It is certainly though an extremely enjoyable and at times very effective technique. One that I confess I am very much at the bottom of the learning curve with!
There is a wealth of information on lure angling available. Pike and Predators magazine regularly features articles by anglers such as Dave Kelbrik that most us of us can learn from. The new P & P website has a lure angling forum and links to other lure angling sites. It is as good a place as any to start your quest!
Pike and Predators Online:
Until next time, enjoy your piking!