Many pike anglers think the best way of catching monster pike is to use dead baits, such as mackerel, herring or smelt or dead freshwater fish such as roach and rudd. Dead baiting is not always the best way to hook a pike, however there are times when dead baiting is the best method to use, such as in the winter months when pike stop actively chasing their food and become scavengers, picking off sick, injured and dead fish.
When you are using dead baits for large pike, you need to use large dead baits. Pike have exceptionally large mouths, so to avoid the smaller jack pike dead baits of 2lbs to 3lbs in weight are commonly used. Never be afraid to use big bait thinking that a pike won’t be able to consume it,
after all pike have been found trying to eat fish as big as themselves so a pike will have a crack at a bait even if it is going to be difficult for it to swallow the bait.
Casting out large dead baits requires a powerful rod and a large fixed spool reel that is loaded
up with some heavy line. Lure fishing rods are simply not powerful enough to cast out large dead baits, therefore you are going to need a dedicated pike rod that should be at least twelve feet in length with a test curve of at least two pounds. A heavy duty carp rod or cat fish rod will also make an excellent pike rod.
When you use dead bait there are various different ways of presenting the bait. You can suspend the bait under a float or bobber so it rests at any given depth you want it to. You can pin the dead bait to the riverbed using a sinker. You can ‘pop’ the bait so it rest just above the river bed or you can free line the bait so it goes where ever the water takes it. The method to choose will depend on where your fishing, the size of the water, the nature of the riverbed and personal preference. All of these methods will produce pike so you don’t have to worry if you can’t free line a dead bait
because it is too windy for example.
An alternative method is to wobble dead bait, which is effectively using the dead bait like you would a lure. In order to wobble the dead bait you need to mount the bait on a wire trace and attach a couple of treble hooks. When wobbling dead bait it is important to make sure you don’t use a bait that is too heavy and can potentially break the line, reel or eve snap the rod during one of the numerous casts you will have to do over the session. It is best to use small dead baits to wobble, however you do run in to the risk of being plagued by small jack pike when using small dead baits.
There are no doubts about it, using dead bait to catch pike will produce large specimens, but it is not a method that suits all anglers. Some anglers don’t like the idea of impaling a fish, either dead or alive, on a fish hook and if you are one of these people you are better off sticking to lure fishing to catch pike. As you can see, there are many different ways you can fish a dead bait and all of them
will produce a pike or two on their day.