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Essential Pike Fishing Tackle

Updated on May 13, 2013

Essential pike fishing tackle to land those monster northern pike

The northern pike is a powerful predatory fish that, in the right conditions, can grow up to one and a half metres in length and weigh in excess of fifty pounds. Northern pike are known for putting up a tremendous scrap, which can last for several hours, when caught on a rod and line and catching this majestic fish gives a huge adrenaline rush.

Hooking a large pike is easy, but landing it is another story. In order to hook and bag huge trophy pike on a consistent basis you are going to need some heavy duty specialist tackle. So, if you want to go pike fishing, but aren't sure what sort of fishing equipment you need read on.......

Pike fishing tackle - Rods and poles

Pike are a strong species of fish so you need a rod that is capable of taming this beast. A typical pike rod should be at least 12 feet in length, have a minimum 2lbs test curve and have a nice through action in order to act as a buffer for the long runs, bursts of acceleration and tail walking pike typically do when they are hooked.

A standard fishing rod is not strong enough to cast heavy live baits and dead baits far distances therefore a stronger rod is needed, and rods described above are perfect for this. If you already have a specimen carp rod that fits the requirements you can also use this to target large pike since carp rods are more than man enough for the job.

Lure fishing and spinning are great ways of catching pike but there are specific spinning rods that are made for this purpose. A spinning rod is typically 10 feet in length, hence it is shorter than a standard pike rod, and weighs less which is needed if you intend to lure fish for long periods of time. Even though spinning rods are shorter and lighter they are more than capable of landing big pike, you just need to take a bit more care and play the fish a bit longer. Spinning rods are not designed to cast heavy live baits and dead baits and if you use a spinning rod for this, you are likely to break it.

Spinning rods are available in two sections that can be taken apart or as a telescopic rod. The take apart spinning rods are much better than telescopic rods because they are stronger. The joins of any rod are the weak point and the more joins there are the more chance there is of breaking the rod at the join. Since a typical telescopic rod has seven sections, i.e. six joints, there is plenty of opportunity for the rod to break at a joint.

So, for dead baiting and live baiting get a 12 foot, minimum test curve rod with a through action and for lure fishing and spinning get a shorter 10 foot take apart spinning rod. These two rods are all the rods you will ever need to land those big pike.

Pike fishing tackle - Top rated pike rods

You can't go pike fishing without a rod or pole. When it comes to pike rods you really do get what you pay for, so be prepared to spend a bit more and you will get a lot more rod for your money. A cheap rod is false economy and really won't last, so don't fall in to the trap of thinking cheap is best.

Shakespeare Catch More Fish Pike
Shakespeare Catch More Fish Pike

If you want a spinning rod, check this out. At six feet it may be a bit small for an adult but if you want to get your son or daughter in to pike fishing this is the ultimate tool.

Shakespeare Light Ugly Stik Ice Combo (26-Inch)
Shakespeare Light Ugly Stik Ice Combo (26-Inch)

The Shakespeare Ugly Stick rod. Affordable, dependable and does exactly what it says on the tin. A great fishing rod.

Okuma spinning rod
Okuma spinning rod

Pike fishing tackle - Reels

A good fixed spool reel is an essential piece of pike fishing tackle. Fishing line gets tangled to easily when using a multiplier and centre pin reels are only good for fly fishing so rather than waste your time, and hard earned money, buying one of these reels forget about it and go and buy a good quality fixed spool reel. There are many manufacturers that make fixed spool reel, including Mitchell, Shakespeare and Daiwa however my personal favourites are made by Shimano.

In order to land large pike you are going to need some strong monofilament line, at least 15lbs breaking strain, so you are going to need a reel with a deep spool. The best reels for live baiting and dead baiting are "big pit" reels, which are large reels with a large deep spool that can accommodate a lot of strong line. Another feature you need to look out for on a fixed spool reel is a "bait runner" or "free spool" system. This system isn't essential, although it will make catching large pike much easier.

When lure fishing for pike you can't use thick heavy line because it is difficult to cast out with light weight lures. Fortunately, there is something you can do to overcome this and that is to use a lighter and thinner monofilament line of a breaking strain of 8lbs to 10lbs. When using a slightly lighter line you need to take more care playing fish as being too bullish with light line is likely to lead to a line break. An alternative to using monofilament line is to use braided line. Braided line is much thinner than monofilament line making it much easier to cast therefore you can use braided line with higher breaking strains. If you use braided line you do need to be careful when playing fish as it is easy to get hook pulls as braid doesn't stretch like monofilament will.

When lure fishing for pike you will be using thinner line or braid, therefore you can get away with a much smaller reel than you would use for dead baiting or live baiting. A good lure fishing reel needs a lot of ball bearings, to make the retrieve smoother, and it should have a high retrieval rate.

Pike fishing equipment - Top rated pike reels

The best reel for pike fishing is a fixed spool reel with a deep spool that can hold a lot of thick and heavy line. There are many manufacturers of fixed spool reels, such as Daiwa, Shakespeare, Quantum, Okuma and Shimano to name but a few. Some reels are good, some reels are not so good. If you want a good quality reel from a reputable manufacturer I highly recommend Shimano reels.

Vistop Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer Replacement for Standard Drains (3-1/2 Inch) Stainless Steel Body Metal Center Knob with Rubber Stopper
Vistop Kitchen Sink Basket Strainer Replacement for Standard Drains (3-1/2 Inch) Stainless Steel Body Metal Center Knob with Rubber Stopper

A medium range fixed spool reel from Shimano. This reel offers great value for money and, provided you look after it, this will provide years of use.


Pike fishing tackle - Landing nets

Pike are a large fish and will not fit in to a standard sized landing net and you will struggle to even net a small pike unless you have the right sized landing net. A landing net for pike fishing should be at least 36 inches and have a deep mesh.

When you get a pike out of the water it will thrash around, which could cause injury to both the fish and angler. The deep mesh will to constrain the pike and keep it still, hence reducing the chance of it injuring itself. Before putting a pike in the landing net you need to make sure you wet it first. Under no circumstances should the pike be put in a dry net.

You should never go pike fishing without a large landing net so make sure you get a good one and make sure you look after it.

Pike fishing tackle - Top rated pike nets

In order to get large pike on the bank you are going to need a big landing net. When buying a landing net always go for the one with the biggest head as a net head can never be too big, but it can be too small. When you buy a landing net ensure the mesh is deep and fine, as this will help protect the pike whilst it is out of the water.

Frabill Folding Net with Telescoping Handle (18 X 16-Inch), Premium Landing Net
Frabill Folding Net with Telescoping Handle (18 X 16-Inch), Premium Landing Net

A large landing net is needed to get large pike on the bank. A foldable net head and telescopic pole will help save on some space, so they make a good purchase.

Adventure Products EGO Landing Rubber Floating Net
Adventure Products EGO Landing Rubber Floating Net

Floating nets are very useful, especially if you tend to be a bit clumsy and end up accidentally kicking your landing net in the water.

StowMaster SS72NG Saltwater Series Precision Landing Net, Silver/Blue
StowMaster SS72NG Saltwater Series Precision Landing Net, Silver/Blue

If you can't find freshwater landing nets that are big enough why not try a salt water net?


An unhooking mat

Leaving a pike on the ground to unhook it is both nasty and cruel. Laying the pike on damp, wet grass is not so bad but if the river bank is muddy, rocky or made of rough ground there is a good chance the pike will suffer an injury. To prevent injury an unhooking mat is essential. An unhooking mat is little more than a piece of foam covered in waterproof PVC.

When you bank a pike you simply lay it on the unhooking mat in order to get the fish hooks out. Before you use the unhooking mat you need to make it wet and submerse it in water. Putting a pike on a dry unhooking mat is likely to damage its skin so make sure you wet the unhooking mat before it is used.

Terminal tackle

In order to catch large pike the specialist tackle doesn't stop with the rod, reels, landing net and unhooking mat, oh no. There are some specialist pieces of terminal tackle you need as well.

1) Treble hooks

Let's start with the fish hooks. Pike have large, bony mouths and it can be difficult to get a good hook hold as the hook can bounce about. In order to overcome this pike anglers use a fish hook called a treble hook. As its name suggests, a treble hook is a hook that has three points and three barbs. Think of a small grappling hook and that is what a treble hook looks like.

Treble fish hooks are available in a variety of different sizes so you can match the size of the treble hook to the size of pike you are after and the size of the lure or bait you are using.

2) Wire traces

Northern pike have large mouths that are full of small and sharp teeth that are designed to rip their prey apart. A pike's teeth can easily cut through monofilament line and braided line therefore you are going to need a wire trace between the main reel line and the hook bait or lure. A wire trace is nothing more than a length of supple wire, which should be at least 8 inches long, to which you attach the hooks or lure. The wire trace is attached to the main reel line by means of a barrel swivel, which stops the reel line and the wire trace from twisting, kinking and weakening.

Wire traces can be bought ready ties from all good tackle shops, although it works out much cheaper buying the raw materials and making your own. Making your own wire traces is fiddly at first, although it is very easy once you get the hang of it.

Pike fishing tackle - Lures

One of the most exciting ways of catching pike is to use lures. Go in to any fishing tackle shop and you will see hundreds of different lures of all sizes, shapes and colours. Choosing the ideal lure can be a real challenge, but at the end of the day he type of lure you pick really doesn't matter, provided it dives to the depth you want it to.

Lot of 16 New In The Box Bass Pike Musky Muskie Fishing Lures
Lot of 16 New In The Box Bass Pike Musky Muskie Fishing Lures

There are hundreds of different types of lures you can buy to catch pike. To make the job easier buy lures in a bulk pack. Bulk packs also represent great value for money.

Lot of 5 Shallow Diving 4.3" Fishing Lure Minnow Crankbaits for Northern Pike, Walleye, and Largemouth Bass
Lot of 5 Shallow Diving 4.3" Fishing Lure Minnow Crankbaits for Northern Pike, Walleye, and Largemouth Bass

Shallow diving lures are great all round lures to get to the bottom of shallower rivers or lakes, or for fishing near the surface in deeper rivers and lakes.

Lot of 5 New 3" Casting Spoon Fishing Lures with 2 Side Spoons for Northern Pike, Salmon, Walleye, and Largemouth Bass
Lot of 5 New 3" Casting Spoon Fishing Lures with 2 Side Spoons for Northern Pike, Salmon, Walleye, and Largemouth Bass

Spoon lures are a very popular lure that can be used in rivers and lakes of all depths. Once again, buying in bulk offers the best value for money


3) Lures

If you intend to lure fish for pike you are going to need a lure or two. Lures are basically a piece of metal, plastic or rubber that are made to look like a fish, to which a treble fish hook or treble fish hooks are attached. There are several different types of lures, including spinners, spoons, plugs, jointed plugs, spinner baits, jigs, crank baits and poppers to name but a few.

The lures are supposed to mimic sick or injured prey fish and are used to entice a hiding pike to strike out and attack. Even though lures don't look much like a prey fish, nor do they smell like a prey fish, but lures do account for a lot of large pike.

Walk in to any fishing tackle shop and there is going to be hundreds of different lures on display and the lures will be a whole variety of different shapes, sizes, colours and made out of different materials. The choice of lures can be overwhelming and choosing the best one for the water you are going to fish can be a difficult task.

4) forceps

When you get a pike on the bank it is highly unlikely to sit still, oh no, a pike will come alive on the bank and will struggle and thrash around. A pike is liable to give a good bite, and given the mouth full of sharp teeth, a pike bite can hurt and draw blood. In order to make sure you don't get injured when unhooking a pike you need to keep your hands as far away from its mouth as possible. Simple right, but how do you remove the fish hook if you can't put your hand near its mouth? I hear you cry.

In order to remove the fish hook you are going to need some fish hook removal tool. A treble fish hook is not going to fit in a standard disgorger or hook remover therefore you will need a different tool and this is where the forceps come in. A pair of long nosed forceps can be used to clamp on to the treble hook allowing you to safely remove it from the pike's mouth.

If you don't have any forceps a pair of long nosed pliers will also do the job, however these are not as good as forceps as they are thicker and more of a hindrance to use.

5) A gag or unhooking glove

A gag is a spring loaded device you put in a pike's mouth in order to keep it open and stop the fish from biting you whilst you are removing the treble hooks. Many people think a gag is inhumane and causes damage to the mouth, therefore they will not use a gag. Putting a gag in the mouth in the first place can be tricky and because of this many anglers refuse to use a gag.

An alternative to using a gag is to use a glove when unhooking large pike. If you hold a pike under the gills you can keep its mouth open without getting injured, a technique that many pike anglers use when unhooking pike. Holding the pike in this way will ensure the pike can't cause you any damage, however you also need to ensure you don't damage the pike's gills otherwise it will die when you return it to the water. When holding a pike under the gills you need to be very careful and use an unhooking glove to make sure the fish is ok.

Some pike anglers don't like the idea of holding a pike under the gills so will opt to use a gag. Some pike anglers prefer to hold the pike under the gills so will opt not to use a gag. At the end of the day the final choice is entirely up to you, but in order to remove the fish hooks you will need to use a gag or an unhooking glove.

6) Other terminal tackle

The above items are the specialist equipment all pike anglers will need. In addition to the above you will also need to have the standard terminal tackle items, such as sinkers, split shot, weights etc.

Be prepared to spend some money on decent pike fishing tackle

Specialist pike fishing tackle is not cheap, but then again nothing in the leisure industry and life in general for that matter, is cheap. You should see your pike fishing tackle as an investment that will give you many years of service and enjoyment, providing you look after it of course.

Some tips on buying pike fishing tackle

Pike fishing tackle is specialist equipment and as such it is quite expensive but if you scour the auction sites you will find lots of pike tackle which is very cheap. Cheap pike tackle is tempting, however most of this cheap tackle is utter rubbish and not worth buying. Cheap pike rods and reels won't last and cheap terminal tackle will be inferior and not perform like it should so save your money. Losing the fish of your dreams because your cheap tackle failed would be gut wrenching, so don't let it happen to you.

When you buy pike tackle it is advisable to go to the local store and have a look around. Take your time and investigate all options. Pick the rods and reels up. Do they feel comfortable? Do they feel balanced? Do you think you will like losing them? Never be bullied in to buying equipment that isn't right for you as you will not enjoy using it and it will be a total waste of money.

Never buy the equipment the first time you see it. Go home and think about the tackle before parting with your hard earned cash. You have to remember the tackle is going to be an investment, so don't be in a rush.

Once you have decided what equipment to buy it is time to shop around and try and get the best price. Go online and see if you can get the tackle for less elsewhere, provided it is genuine and not counterfeit or fake. If you buy online to save some cash make sure you get to a store to see, and hold, what you are intending on buying before getting it online.

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If you have any thoughts, comments, great pike tackle ideas or want to note down anything else related to this lens please feel free to do so.


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    • Edwardjames81 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: I toally agree with you. Scrimpong on tackle may lead to line breaks, which means the pike is going to have a lure/set of hooks and a trace in its mouth until it gets a chance to shed it, and no fish should have to endure that.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I dont think you should cut costs anywhere on your tackle for pike fishing . Quality rods reals and terminal tackle . Aswell as unhooking matt . Weigh sling long nose pliers side cutters aswell for deep hooked fish .. and for anyone into lure fishing check out savage gear lures if you havent already revolutionizing lures in europe really there is no comparison

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 

      7 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      I've always wanted to catch one of those monster fish. Unfortunately they don't range all the way down here in Louisiana. At least not that I've ever heard of. Maybe I'll make it to Minnesota someday....


    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      Good tips on tackle for fishing for pike. I wish that I had a leader last month when I hooked a good size northern while casting for bass. I got the fish along side the boat behind it's sharp teeth cut through the line.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love spoons for northern pike because they have only one treble hook. That way I'm less apt to get a hook in my hand when I'm bringing in the fish or releasing it from the hooks. They do thrash quite a bit. Although I almost always fish from a boat and not shore, I like the idea of your unhooking mat. Thanks! Another great pike lens.

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind Guides 

      7 years ago from USA

      This lens is great -- I don't love notherns but that seems to be the only fish besides small-mouth that I ever catch. Anyway cool lens, thanks.


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