Big Lures Big Fish?

Catch shot 2_01

October is my favourite time to pike fish bar none – not only is the water fairly warm with temperatures around 15 degrees, but the pike are usually quite active as well, and are aggressively hunting prey fish as the nights start to draw in, and the photoperiod on the fish reduces.

Bait fish start to shoal up in earnest at this time of year, and often pike can be found around or close to these shoals of fish, this is certainly true when they are in a feeding mood. When they are resting up, they can be quite a distance away, but at some point, they will move in to have a snack.

I find that at this time of year pike really like big baits – maybe it’s because they are more active, or maybe it’s because that is the size of the prey that they prefer at this time. Whatever the reason it’s time to go big or go home. Too many times I have seen anglers casting “regular” sized lures 4 – 6 inch at this time of year, and struggling. When you look on the fish-finder you can see masses of bait fish this size in most waters, and it must be like a needle in a haystack some days. However, cast a big 12” lure out and it stands out like a beacon, and often gets the pike’s attention.

There is a problem with “chucking the big stuff” and that is you will need the correct rods and reels not only to cast them, but also to set the hooks correctly. Sometimes you will be casting lures in excess of 150g – which most “spinning” rods simply won’t do. The good news is that good lure rods for big lures aren’t that expensive nowadays, so there is no excuse in not using the right gear. For casting big rubber lures and swimbaits, I find a slightly longer rod is beneficial – as it helps reduce the stress on the shoulders of casting big lures all day, so look for something in the 8 ft range. You will also need a good multiplier reel to hold the heavy braid. Like most pikers, I use the tried and tested 6500 size “Abu Ambassadeur” for this work. Regards braid, I use 80lb “Whiplash”, this is simply for safety – when casting big lures, as you don’t want to crack them off and have them hurtling at someone on the bankside! The plus of course is if your lure does get snagged up, then in most cases you can pull it or bend the hooks and get the lure back. With most big lures at £20+ a pop you don’t want to lose too many.

Catch shot_01

Retrieve styles
The simplest, and arguably the most effective retrieve style, is to simply cast out and wind the lure back straight. It sounds like it shouldn’t work or is too simple, but this straight retrieve catches me loads of big pike every year. For some reason the pike like it, it is as if it mesmerises them, and they often take by the side of the boat at the lure is coming up.
If you are getting loads of follows on a straight retrieve, it time to jazz it up a bit and put some pauses in, not too many – I will usually do a straight retrieve to approximately half-way back then a 2 – 3 second pause on a tight line, then continue – it is at this point to expect a hit. If you watch a following pike, it looks mesmerised until something different happens, at the pause the pike either stops or swims to one side, you won’t catch a pike that has stopped – but one that diverts to the side will often turn, and hit the lure side on when it starts up again, and is a great little tip.

As the pike are active, don’t be too obsessed with fishing right on the bottom for them, in fact if pike are up in the water hunting you can even fish too deep for them. Most big lures work best from a couple of feet off the bottom, to mid-water. When fishing big lures, it is important to rely on their big body profile and wake in the water to attract the pike, and a mid-water bait will be highly visible in most circumstances. Remember you are looking to attract a hungry pike to smash into a big prey fish, not tempt one that is full up to have a snack, for this you need different tactics. Because of this, it is important to know when to use them, and to know that big lures don’t always catch big fish – but – when looking back over my catches I can say that I have caught a disproportionate number of very big pike using outsized lures, and, Yes, it can be onerous to cast them all day, but often the results are more than worth it.

Top big lures

Reps - swim baits_01

Fox Replicant:
Replicants have been around for years in various guises and because of their big profile, still catch a lot of fish. If you can find them the original ones are by far the best in 8” and 10” sizes. My two favourite colours are “Slick” which is a strange green / brown type and the other “Red Perch”. A straight retrieve is all you need to get these big lures thumping away, and they have a unique “head bobbing” action when fished correctly, which the pike love.

Gear - Ricky Roach_01

Westin Ricky roach 18cm:
These are a great deep-bodied bait that not only gives a big profile like the Replicant, but has a different kicking-tail action, which gives the bait a nice body roll in the water but keeps its tracking straight. With this big bait I like to rig both trebles under the bait to help enhance the body roll. The best colour is “Headlight” which is predominately a silver, and looks just like a silver bream in the water, and pike love them. I like to fish these really slow, and their action accommodates this, with the correct size jig head for the depth of water they have a lot of “hang time” on the pause, which the pike find attractive.


Westin Hypoteez 25cm:
I really like this lure as it gives a completely different action from the others. The tail action is quite fast and because of the body shape it creates a nice roll without too much lift in the water – meaning it will stay deep even with a relatively light jig head. By far the best colour is “Natural Pike”. This is my “go to” lure when pike have seen a lot of other types of lures and has accounted for pike over 30lbs to me.

First Published in Anglers Mail Oct 2019