Wising up to lures

Lure pike

Over the course of the season, pike become harder to catch. I think that is a statement that most pike anglers would agree with. You can see evidence of this on waters such as Chew, which is fished hard every day. The first and second weeks are usually the best, then there is the “falling off a cliff” period where hardly anything gets caught, then there might be a second wave (to use a buzz word) where a few fish get caught again .This occurs because the fish that were caught on the first couple of weeks need to feed again before it gets too cold, they are often really cautious though, or will have switched to early morning or night feeding by this time.

This behaviour is even more evident on lure-only waters, or waters that have been heavily fished with lures, as, quite simply, the fish get used to them very quickly. I am a great believer that you don’t even need to hook a fish to put it off certain lures, simply casting over the same spots day after day can adversely affect the pike’s behaviour to them, or rather to the similar A to B retrieve and lure size.
Often you speak to other anglers who have had a couple of bumps or a follow most days, then this stops – have the fish moved? Are they full up and not feeding? Or have they wised up to what’s being chucked? In most situations it’s probably a combination of all of these. Now is the time to fish something different.


Personally, I would argue if you are getting bumps and follows you are doing something slightly wrong anyway. On the brighter side, you are probably doing something slightly right as well, as you have moved a fish in the first place – but you want to catch them, not take them for a walk!

The most common thing I notice when watching other pike lure anglers is the similarity of the lures they are chucking – mostly it is a replicant / paddle tail analogue, in 6 to 8 inch range. Usually in a silver or baitfish colour. This will be cast out, hit the bottom, and wound back in. How many times will a pike have seen that, or similar? I can understand why you would use them, they catch fish, but they become less and less effective as the season goes on.


On some of the bigger waters you probably make 300 casts a day, so two in a boat 600 casts?
5 two-men boats in these areas, that’s around 3000 lure passes in a single day. What about in a month – 90,000? Sounds excessive, but could be about that on some waters – it’s a wonder we ever catch anything after October – Oh wait, most don’t – how often has it been written that lures are only good in warmer water – maybe it could be just that come the colder months, they have seen so many similar lures analogues that it seems that way because they are avoiding them.

I’m a great believer in fishing something different from what everyone else is using, and I do this in several ways – but probably the easiest two tips I can give is to fish something in a different size – smaller or larger to what everyone else is using. I generally will go smaller, as hooking ability is greatly increased in smaller lures.


However you have to weigh this up with what the pike are naturally eating. If they are eating bigger prey fish or are true “trout feeders” then you will have to go large – for this I like big lures like the HypoTeez ST which are big, in that they are 10 inches long, but they have a slimline profile, so they don’t look like yet another replicant in the water. Another good choice is choosing a lure with a wide profile, so it’s still a big food item to the pike, but looks significantly different to what else has been cast, I like lures like the BullTeez for this.


The second tip is – to go dark. No, not fish in the dark – though this might help! But to choose dark colours – browns and greens are my favourites. A lot of anglers don’t cast these, as they don’t appeal to them aestheticaly. Obviously the fish think differently, as, certainly for me, dark colours – like motor oil, dark green, or perchesque colours always catch fish for me when the going is tough.

Perch types

You can go the other way, bright vivid colours, and this may work on some waters but its life expectancy is generally low, as the fish wise up to them after a couple of days, in my experience. Weirdly, I prefer brighter colours when it gets really cold in December and January. I think they work better then because you need to sort of shock the pike out of lethargy. Maybe that isn’t the right way to say it, but when it’s cold, a bright lure sticks out more, and will be visible from further away, so a torpid pike has a greater chance of noticing it.


I know that there are some anglers who will argue that the colour of the lure doesn’t make any difference, as long as you fish it in the right area in the right way. For lightly-fished for fish this might be true, but I can honestly say the colour is everything on some hard fished trout waters, so much so that if you haven’t got the right coloured lures in your box you might as well stay at the jetty all day!