Pike fishing fundamentals

For the safety of the pike, a wire trace of at least 18 inches (45cm) in length must always be used when fishing for pike, whether you are bait or lure fishing. Even small pike have razor sharp teeth that will cut through ordinary line and big pike could easily swallow a shorter trace and bite through your line. There is no need to use traces lighter than 30lb breaking strain, or line lighter than 15lb.

For speedy unhooking it is preferable that barbless or semi-barbed hooks are used when pike fishing. These days most tackle shops stock ready-made reliable traces constructed with top quality components and which cost about the same as a pack of deadbaits.

When it comes to landing pike, a large, knotless landing net with arms of at least 36 inches, or a round frame of at least 30 inches is best. Nets with a rubber coated surface and a large open mesh are the best choice for lure fishing where trebles are less likely to become tangled or cause damage to pike.

Once a pike is landed place it on an unhooking mat, or an area of soft grass – never on a rough surface.

Look to see where your hooks are before proceeding to handle the fish. Turn the fish on its back and insert one or two fingers under a gill plate, keeping them well away from any hooks. You might like to wear a suitable unhooking glove on the hand you do this with. Lift the pike’s head carefully and its mouth will usually open. Maintain this hold while you use a pair of 10-12 inch artery forceps to grip and remove the hooks. It is now that you will appreciate the use of semi-barbless hooks. With lively fish it is often easier to unhook the fish by kneeling astride it.

A pike will not purposely bite you. Don’t be frightened, treat the pike with respect and confidence. If the hooks are difficult to get out, put the pike in the landing net and back into the water. Then seek help from another pike angler, do not feel embarrassed, we have all been there.

When returning a pike to the water, always ensure that the pike can support it to maintain its balance unaided. A fully recovered pike will swim steadily away.

ESSENTIAL PIKE TACKLE

Wire traces – at least 18in/45cm long and 30lb breaking strain
A minimum of 15lb reel line (20lb to 30lb braid)
Forceps for removing hooks
Large knotless landing net
Unhooking mat
Small bolt cutters

Look after the pike you catch and they will live to be caught again another day.

A PDF file copy of this Fact Sheet (13) is available here. Pike fishing fundamentals

Originally produced by the PAC in 2004.