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The differences between lure fishing and dead baiting for northern pike

Updated on January 23, 2012

Northern pike are predatory fish that are the target species of many anglers. Pike grow very large and will put up a wonderful scrap when hooked, which are two of the main reasons anglers target this magnificent fish. Two of the most popular methods of catching large pike are lure fishing and dead baiting. Both of these methods are totally different, yet both have accounted for some exceptionally large pike. If asked to choose the best method it would be impossible to decide to select one over the other.

If you are wondering how lure fishing for northern pike compares and contrasts to dead baiting for northern pike, read on and all will be revealed……..

Dead baiting for pike involves using dead fish as bait to catch pike, whereas lure fishing involves using artificial bait that is made out of plastic, metal, rubber or a combination of these.

Dead baits leave a trail of natural juices and oils in the water, which the pike can follow. Dead baits also have a scent that pike can pick up on. Lures have no smell nor do they leave a trail of natural juices and oils.

Dead baits have a shelf life and can only be kept refrigerated or frozen for a specific amount of time before they are no good to use as bait to catch pike and have to be thrown away. Lures do not have a shelf life and can last for many years.

You can fish dead baits in a number of different ways, such as suspended beneath a float or bobber, pinned to the bottom of the riverbed, wobbled and used as you would a lure, and free lined. You can only use lures in one way, which is to cast them out and retrieve them again.

You are most likely to catch pike using dead baits in the winter months, when the pike are less active, lethargic and prefer to scavenge for food as opposed to chasing it. Lures are best used in the summer months, when the pike are actively chasing small fish around to eat.

You will only catch pike on dead bait when it is hungry and wants to feed. Because of the pike’s aggressive and territorial nature you can catch a pike on a lure even when it is not feeding since it will attack a lure to defend its habitat, and get hooked in the process. Since a lure can provoke an attack your chances of catching pike are increased when using lures.

Casting out heavy dead baits requires some sturdy tackle, including a strong rod, large fixed spool reel and some heavy line. Lures, in comparison, are light and you can get away with using much lighter fishing tackle.

A telescopic spinning rod and a box of lures is small enough to be kept in the trunk of the car or in a small rucksack at all times, which is great for those times when you stumble across a river that looks like it holds pike. Dead bait rods and tackle is not so small and transportable.

If you have a box of lures you can’t use the excuse “I have no bait” not to go pike fishing. The same cannot always be said about dead baits. Thin about it, would your partner mind you keeping a stock of dead bait in the freezer amongst the pizzas, chips and burgers?

It is clear to see that both dead baiting for monster pike and lure fishing have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Overall neither method is better or worse than the other and since both methods have accounted for some huge pike, and will continue to do so in the future, the method you choose will depend entirely on personal preference.


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