In this feature I will be discussing the many different lures available, and how, when and where, to fish them. I will also be showing some of my own, highly productive, handcrafted lures.
Also, you may want to check out our handpicked top 10 pike fishing lures of all time.
Types Of Lures Pike Will Like
Spinners are great for tempting northern pike, perch, zander, chub, grayling, trout, and salmon. Even bream and carp have been known to take a small spinner. As for sea fish that would take a spinner, there are just too many to mention. There are hundreds and hundreds of different models available. The only fault with spinners and spoons is line twist. A quality anti kink vane is well worth investing in – better still, make one.
Flies equipped with one single hook can land pike of all sizes – so why, I ask you, are most jerkbaits equipped with such large hooks. The biggest pike landed by one of my clients on a fly, stands at 24lb. Fly fishing can be very, very productive if you pay a little thought to location. During the summer and winter months, pike, perch, chub, and various another semi predatory fish, will readily take a tied fly. I have caught roach, rudd, carp, tench, chub, perch, pike, trout and various other species fly fishing. Try it – and you’ll be hooked too!
Spoons can be very productive at any time of the year. They tend to produce best when pike, perch and chub, etc., are active and hungry – and the water relatively clear. Spoons come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Personally, I like to use silver and brass spoons. Pike to over 30lb has been landed on my own handcrafted spoons. Weedless spoons, like my handcrafted one pictured right, are great for working in and around fish holding features – like weed and lily beds and fallen trees.
Crawler fishing is undoubtedly the most exciting form of lure fishing – surface takes are often devastating! Crawler fishing is very much a summer thing. Depending on weather conditions it can be viable right up to December – late September though is usually when takes start to die off. Night crawling for pike and chub can be heart-stopping stuff!
My favorite shop brought crawler is the Arbogast Joined Jitterbug. Over the years I have caught many, many hundreds of double-figure pike on the JJ (large version). As for twenty-pound pike on the JJ, I’ve lost count! Pike, chub and perch, and various other predatory fish will take a topwater crawler. Personally speaking, I do not think there is a better top-water lure than the Jointed Jitterbug – apart, that is, from my handcrafted jitterbugs (pictured above right). In my experience I have found Crazy Crawlers to be very unreliable – their wings often getting stuck closed – or getting ripped off by the first pike that strikes (!)
The ideal places for top-water crawling are shallow weedy areas – ranging from 1-8ft deep. ‘Slowly retrieved’ along the edge of a reed bed or fallen tree, they can produce devastating takes. Retrieved along the edge of moored boats can also produce mega takes. If you’ve not tried top-water crawling fishing before, give it a go – you won’t regret it!
Crankbaits are productive all year round. They come in floating and sinking models. The key to successful crankbait fishing is to sink or crank your crankbait down to the bottom before you start to retrieve it erratically. Buoyant crankbaits can be retrieved high in the water by slowing the retrieve speed right down. Pike will come up and smash ‘em like they do top-water lures. There are thousands to choose from – ranging anything from 25mm to 250mm in length.
Jerkbaits can be very productive at certain times of the year. I have found the first cold snap of winter to be a particularly good time for fishing jerkbaits. My best catch on jerkbaits has been forty pike in an afternoon. Nowadays, I like to make my own jerkbaits – as I much prefer to fish small jerkbaits to large. The reason for making my own jerkbaits, is there are very few tiny models available through tackle shops in the UK/USA.
The nice thing about scaling jerkbaits down in size, to about 4in long by 1in in dia., is that the hooks can also be greatly reduced in size. There is no two ways about it, big jerkbaits, equipped with big hooks, can cause extensive damage to pike and muskies.
Fact: I have continued to have as much success with small jerkbaits as I did using large – the large jerkbaits being equipped with smaller hooks than the factory fitted ones they came with. I feel that jerkbait manufactures are very irresponsible when it comes to hardware. If jerkbaits were tuned better in the factory, they would not need big hooks to act as keel weights.
Buzzbaits If pike are in an aggressive hungry state, this is ‘the lure’ to stimulate them and make ’em strike. There are many different versions of this lure. Some have double blades, some have tri blades, and some have quad blades – some even have one double blade mounted next to the other – which creates a commotion and wake loud enough to wake sleeping beauty! These unusual looking lures can even be retrieved under the surface.
Chuggers can be productive at any time of the year. Shallow water areas, in the 1-8ft range, are the best places to fish chugger plugs. There are many types of chugger plug. The Heddon Lucky 13 (pictured right) being one of the best I have ever used. Another chugger I like to apply for calling pike out from dense weed beds is the ‘Hula Popper’ (below right).
The Arbogast Hula Popper (pictured right), if used with a high tensile rod and braided line, can be made to pop so loud you would think the lure is ten times its actual size; which is only 4in and it includes its missing rear rubber skirt. The only type of chugger plug that is unlikely to produce during the winter months is the chugger plug that does not dive beneath the water’s surface. The best way to retrieve a ‘diving’ chugger plug, is to cast it out, pop it, then send it diving.
Every now and again let it ascend to the surface, keeping it moving slowly forwards all the time, then pop it and send it diving again. Only pop it about every 10 yards – popped too much can put the following pike off. Another decent productive chugger plug is the Bomber Popper – which has rattles. Chugger plugs are great for pike – although any predatory fish is likely to have a ‘pop’ at one.
Minnow Plugs can be very productive any time of the year. Minnow plugs come in deep and shallow versions. Unlike crankbaits, which are fat in body, minnow plugs are slim. They come in straight and jointed models. I particularly like minnows that have a silver type finish – like the one pictured right. I have caught pike over 20lb on minnow plugs.
Now on to topwater stickbaits. When all the aforementioned top-water lures fail to tempt pike – for some reason, these often do. Stickbaits, as I just said, can be very productive when all other top-water lures fail to produce. The reason for that, in my experience, is that when pike are not in a vibratory hunting mood, the more subtle approach, which a stickbait offers, seems to work absolute wonders. I have caught pike to over twenty pounds on stickbaits – i.e. when all other types of top-water lure have failed to move a single fish! Make up your own mind.
The Heddon Zara Mouse is another very productive stickbait – although some might argue and say it’s not a true stickbait. Whatever you term it, it is an excellent lure for stimulating and triggering pike. Retrieved over lily/weed beds, it takes some beating. The only downside to this lure is its poor hooking stats. A double upturned stinger hook helps greatly concerning hooking statistics.
Rubber Tailed Plugs
Rubber Tailed Plugs I have had great success on my handcrafted rubber tailed plugs – like the one pictured right. The tail is made by cutting a rubber fish up and pinning it into the rear slot. Silver Hammerite paint works wonders.
Vibrating Plugs are great for calling up small pike, perch, and chub. Various sea fish will also hit these very loud plugs. The noise some vibrating plugs emit is quite unbelievable. I have had many, many days when I have struggled to catch on diving plugs – that is, until I put on a loud vibrating plug. I can remember many times when I have taken one small pike after another on these lures. They are excellent lures for producing takes just as darkness starts to set in. When fishing deep water, let them sink to the bottom before twitching ‘em back.
Propbaits can be very productive during the summer months. Propbaits are particularly useful for calling pike out from structure – like, for example, weed beds, lily beds, fallen trees, etc. One of my favorite top-water propbaits, is my version of the Ozark Mountain Ripper (pictured right). Some propbaits tend to catch more anglers than they do fish (!)
The ‘Buzz ‘N’ Frog’ is one lure that tends to catch more anglers than it does fish. I have caught pike on it, but it has never proved itself to be as successful as other propbaits that I use – e.g., the Ozark Mountain Ripper. As I say to anybody though, every lure has its day. If you enjoy using a lure, however productive or unproductive it may be, then continue to use it – don’t let the likes of me put you off a lure you enjoy using.
Pop On The Top
‘Pop On The Top’ This is one of my most productive summer lures. Its vibratory action brings pike up from the depths, makes ’em attack from weed beds and fallen trees and a whole lot of other places that you would not expect to get pike zooming out from. The lure is very loud when popped on the top. It can also dive if required. Note the two trace attachment points. The rear flashing silver blades drive following pike wild.
Other Topwater Lures
Other Productive Top-Water Lures that are well worth a mention are rubber mice, the rubber Ghost, and the Heddon Moss Boss. My good friend Tony Myhill caught his first top-water 20lb pike on a Moss Boss. It is the most versatile top-water lure that I have ever used. The nice thing about this lure is that it can be sunk and drawn beneath the water’s surface. A summer must!