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Buying Guides | November 17, 2023
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Catching pike can be a challenge. This freshwater predator won’t go down without a fight, so leave nothing to chance and follow our specialist’s advice on the best gear to grab for pike fishing. From spinners to spoons and from rods to reels, Claude Bissonnette, buyer at SAIL and fishing enthusiast, goes through what to bring on your next pike fishing adventure.
In this article, you will learn:
Pike can be a very exciting catch. This strong, slender, olive to dark green fish dotted with paler spots can grow up to a trophy-worthy 30 pounds (13.6 kg) in weight, although most specimens are between 5 and 12 pounds (2.3 and 5.4 kg). Commonly referred to as the ‘water wolf’ due to its sharp teeth and aggressive nature, pike are natural hunters: always hungry and willing to take a chance at a bite, they hide in shallow, weedy places waiting for prey. This makes it a fairly easy fish to catch with standard spinning equipment and artificial lure, although it will bite for those using live worms as well. But even if a novice has a good chance at a catch, getting it out of the water is another story altogether.
Northern pike, the most common species, is fairly abundant and can be found in many rivers and lakes in Quebec and Ontario. Excluding the spawning season, anglers can try their luck at pike fishing throughout the year.
The best gear for you will depend on the technique you choose to use. Fly fishing, trolling, spinning or baitcasting all work for pike, although most people will settle for spinning as it doesn’t require any special equipment.
When planning a pike fishing trip, Claude Bissonnette usually packs a six to seven feet (1.83 m to 2.1 m) long spinning rod with medium heavy (MH) power. Brands Daiwa and 13 Fishing offer light but sturdy rods with a good strong backbone. When using heavier lures, a heavy casting rod (H) could be a better option, however most pike fishing lures will range between 1/4 to 3/4 ounces.
Both braid and monofilament fishing line work well for pike, although Claude recommends braid when spinning as it tends to be stronger and cut through vegetation better. You’ll need something that can handle an aggressive fish. A 25-30 lb (11.3-13.6 kg) test is a solid choice. If using braid, add a bit of Fluorocarbon near your hook for camouflage. When trolling, a 15-20 lb (6.8-9.1 kg) test monofilament is fine, but add a steel leader so your catch doesn’t cut the line when biting.
If spinning is your technique of choice, use a reel between 2000 and 3000 in size depending on your fishing line of choice. A 2000 reel will do for a 10 lb (4.5 kg) test monofilament, while 4000 will handle a much thicker fishing line. Brands Daiwa and Abu Garcia offer good reel options, suitable for pike fishing.
Pike are natural hunters. They enjoy chasing prey and so they require visual excitement. Use plenty of colour and movement. Your artificial bait will need to be solid enough to resist powerful mouths and jaws.
Your fishing spot will also impact your choice of lure. Your usual go-to spoon could work well one day and not at all the next. Pike fishing is all about trial and error. Bissonnette’s suggestion is to bring a large selection of lures (at least a dozen) in order to be prepared for any situation. Rapala has a good selection of hard lures with plenty of action, like the BX Jointed Shad 06 (2 1/2″) and the Super Shadow Rap. So don’t hesitate to switch bait, or location, should things be a bit too quiet.
Is a sonar a necessary piece of equipment for pike fishing? According to Claude Bissonnette, it can be very useful when trying to find a good pike hiding spot. If you’re considering purchasing a sonar, look for one with preloaded maps. This way, you can figure out a good pike-friendly shallow area even before you get on the water.
Anglers can enjoy pike fishing throughout the year, even during the winter. Again, the best gear for pike fishing will vary based on your technique. Many will use between five to ten tip-up lines and just kick back waiting for a bite. Others, hoping for more action, will use a heavy action ice fishing rod with artificial lures, live bait (allowed in Ontario, but not in Quebec) or dead bait fish (allowed in Quebec during the winter season only).
Pike have around 700 razor-sharp teeth, so thick fishing gloves are a must for handling your catches. You’ll also need long nose pliers to remove the hook without putting your hands in its mouth, as well as a strong landing net to bring it in.
As you would for all types of fishing expeditions, make sure you pack your fishing permit along with a few other essentials. Consult our fishing gear checklist for a full list.