Pike Tackle Requirements

Fishing for pike does require some specialised tackle. However, while there are a few fundamentals that are essential you might already have some of the equipment you will need.

Wire traces are absolutely essential for pike fishing or there is every chance that a pike will bite through your line! Line and trace strength needs careful consideration and it is better to opt stronger rather than lighter. A main line of at least 15lb is a good idea and trace wire of 30lb or more. Hooks can be treble or double and crushing the barbs will facilitate their speedy removal when you do land a pike.

Pike rods usually have a test curve of 2.5lb or more for bait fishing, and for lure fishing choose one designed to cast 56g (2oz) or so. Floats and/or bite indicators will also be needed.

Other than a reliable reel you will also require a large landing net with at least 36 inch arms if triangular in shape, or with a diameter of 30 inches if round framed. For unhooking pike you will need one pair (better still two pairs) of strong, long-handled forceps. A sufficiently large weigh sling (see photo) and unhooking mat, or a sling/mat combo, completes the basics.

Pike Wire Traces

Whenever you are fishing for pike a wire trace MUST be used. Even small pike have razor sharp teeth that will cut though ordinary line. For the safety of the pike, should it swallow your bait a little too deeply, your trace should be at least 15 inches (40cm) in length whether you are bait or lure fishing. With the ultrathin trace wires which are available today there is no need to drop below 30lb breaking strain. For speedy unhooking it is preferable that barbless, semi-barbed or crushed-barb hooks are used when bait fishing. Always use traces that have a good quality swivel for your line to be tied to, cheap swivels can break and a wire loop might cut through your line.
These days most tackle shops stock ready-made reliable traces constructed with top quality components that have been designed by experienced pike anglers. If you would prefer to make your own pike traces we can show you how.

Making Wire Traces

First of all you have to acquire trace components and trace making tools. Hooks, swivels and wire are essential. For lure fishing a good quality snap link, which will not open up inadvertantly is essential. Suitable crimps will also be needed if you wish to make your traces by crimping. Multistrand wire can also be twisted to make secure connections of hooks and swivel. To make crimped traces you will need a pair of special pliers, and to make twisted traces a ‘Twiddling Stick’ and possibly a cigarette lighter will be needed. Something to cut the wire neatly, without fraying, is also essential – small side cutters are ideal. Opinion is divided as to whether the upper hook on a two hook trace should be fixed or sliding. Both methods of trace construction are described here.

Twisting Method

Take the end of your wire and double it back to form an open loop, pass this loop through the eye of your first hook, and then the hook through the loop. Snug the wire up by pulling on both ends of the wire to make a neat loop-to-loop connection. This sounds a lot harder than it really is! Some people simply pass the wire twice through the eye of the hook, but the loop method is less likely to pull out if your twists aren’t well made.

Put the hook of theTwiddling Stick in the eye of the hook, or the bend if the eye is too small. Bend the free end of the wire at ninety degrees to the main trace and grip it with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand (if right handed) – about an inch (25mm) of free wire is plenty, so it can be trimmed at this point. Now rotate the Twiddling Stick so that the free end of wire wraps neatly around the main part of the trace between your forefinger and thumb until the join is completely wrapped. Some of the stiffer wires are more easily twisted if the free end is heated with the flame of a cigarette lighter to soften it. Make sure you do not heat the main part of the trace as this weakens the wire.

Now cut your wire to length for the finished trace, allowing a little extra for attaching the second hook and swivel. Take your second hook and thread it onto the wire and position it the distance you want it to be from the end hook when the trace is completed. To fix this hook bend the wire down and along the shank of the hook, back around between the bends of the treble or double hook, then wrap it three or four times around the shank of the hook before passing it back through the eye. This makes a connection which will not slip. Take time over this to eliminate any loose wire.

Finally add the swivel in the same way you did the first treble and the trace is complete.

Crimping Method

First pass the end of your trace wire through a crimp, through the eye of your lower hook and then back through the crimp. Snug the crimp down towards the eye of the hook, but not too tightly. The hook should be free to swing in the loop of the wire. Next take your crimping pliers and squeeze the crimp in two places. This will ensure a secure connection. Trim the tag end of wire with your cutters. For a really neat job the tag end can be pulled just inside the crimp before crimping, but this takes practice to avoid pulling it in too far.

Now cut the wire to length – a few inches longer than the length you want the trace to end up. Pass the free end through the eye of your second hook, position the hook roughly where you want it and wrap the wire around its shank three or four times. Sliding a short length of tight fitting silicone tubing over the wrapped shank of the treble makes the trace much neater, and helps stop the treble sliding inadvertently.

Finally attach the swivel to the free end of the wire in the same way as you did the first hook and the job is done.

Basic Lure Fishing

If you have already done some pike fishing you will have some of the basic tackle required for lure fishing. Landing net, weigh sling and unhooking mat, for example. Many experienced lure anglers prefer a larger meshed net than they would use for bait fishing as this reduces the number of hook tangles they get when netting lure caught pike.

Because lures are usually fitted with larger and thicker wire hooks than are used for bait fishing a standard pair of forceps might not be sufficient to unhook lure caught pike. A pair of fine nosed pliers, maybe with long handles, is better, and a tool called a HookOut is also recommended. These give you better leverage on the hook, and keep your hand clear of both the pike’s teeth and any free hooks.

Should you experience difficulty in removing a treble hook with your pliers it is quicker, better for the pike, if you cut the hook up and remove it in two or more pieces. A strong pair of side cutters or small bolt croppers make perfect tools for this job. Close your eyes when cutting the hook just in case the point of the hook flies in your direction. If the cut portion of the hook remains in the pike’s mouth remove it with your pliers.

A wire trace is just as essential when lure fishing for pike as when bait fishing. So long as it is twelve inches or longer it will be fine. Make sure it has a strong swivel at one end and a strong snap link at the other, of a design that will not open up accidentally when fishing.

Line of at least 15lb and trace wire of 30lb are suggested for lures of an ounce or so, but it is a good idea to use stronger line and trace wire than you might for bait fishing as the repeated casting involved in lure fishing will place additional stress on these items. Many lure anglers are now using braided lines of higher breaking strains as these also offer greater sensitivity than nylon monofilament while being no thicker. For techniques such as jerkbait fishing specialised tackle is required and even 20lb line is not sufficiently strong.

Safe Pike Rigs

Fixed lead rigs have become common in carp fishing and other circles in recent years, and their use is now widespread in pike fishing, too. However, care must be taken to ensure that the lead is not attached in such a way that it cannot be dislodged from the rig should the baited trace break off from the line. Rigs like this have become known as ‘tether rigs’ or ‘death rigs’ and must never be used.

Do not attach bomb weights directly to trace swivels using snap links. Use an intermediate link of weak nylon. Better still use one of the many purposely designed safety bomb links or in-line leads that are designed to be a safe push-fit onto a trace swivel.

When paternostering ensure that the bomb link is of weak nylon (6-8lb breaking strain) which a pike will be able to snap if the bomb snags. Further weakening this link by tying overhand knots in it, and using a blood knot to attach the bomb, will help the link snap more easily.

Do not fix bullet weights on to traces in such a way that they cannot pull over the trace swivel. If you must put a weight directly on a wire trace use the sort of weight that is interchangeable without breaking down the tackle as this will have some chance of coming free should the worst happen.

To avoid losing rigs, and hooked fish, always use sensible strong main line – minimum fifteen pounds mono, or thirty or fifty pound braid.

ANY rig, however good, is potentially a death rig if it is left unattended, or fished without good bite indication. There are other rigs and items of tackle which can prove fatal to pike;

Stainless steel hooks should not be used for pike fishing as they will never corrode should they become left in a pike.

Always use good quality swivels for trace construction. Swivels with twisted wire eyes should be avoided. The use of swivels which have a stated breaking strain is highly recommended in selecting reliable components.

Snap links which open up accidentally can result in the loss of lures or baited rigs. Avoid snap links which operate like a safety pin, and those which have a ‘hook and eye’ closing mechanism – these are fine for attaching bombs or floats to rigs but should not be used for trace or lure attachment.

Weak Leger Link

In order to make a weak link you will need a leger ring or leger bead, a snap link, some 2mm silicone tubing and some nylon line that is weaker than the mainline you will be using (6 or 8lb will usually be about right).

Tie the nylon to the leger ring using a Uni/Grinner knot. Decide roughly how long you want the link to be and tie a loop knot at this point, then trim off the tag end of line.

Attach the snap link to the loop, and measure off a piece of the silicone tubing so that it will snug over the eye on the leger ring and cover about half the snap link.

Thread a spare length of the nylon through the length of silicone tubing, through the snap link and back up the silicone tubing. Hold the two ends of nylon and slide the silicone down over the snap link and the weak link on to the eye of the leger ring.

You can make up a number of these weak links in various lengths, and by passing them through drilled poly balls you can make buoyant, ‘weed-beater’ links too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: