Alternative Piking Methods

underwater pike shot

Image source: shutterstock
Pike – your chosen quarry

Want to add some more variety to your fishing and catch more predators this season? Fishing author Dominic Garnett has three killer methods to try.

One of the best things about pike fishing is the sheer variety of methods and waters to catch them, whether you enjoy casting lures or watching the tip of a juicy float.

But quite often, just a small handful of methods are used, to the exclusion of the rest. Which is fine – but the best and most enjoyable pike fishing methods are not always the most obvious. Here are three alternative tactics (and some of the coarse fishing tackle) I use every season to catch more pike:


wobbled canal pike

Re-inventing wobbled canal pike

Re-inventing wobbled canal pike
As old as the hills, wobbling or sink and draw fishing for pike was once hugely popular. It involves retrieving a dead fish rather like a lure, but has big advantages. It gives a lovely, slow presentation for one thing, and tends to work well on difficult days and waters where the pike have seen all the usual lures.

My favourite way to wobble is to ditch the multiple treble hooks and old fashioned rigs though, using a modified clip to hold the bait in place (usually a large snap link, with the arm bent straight and sharpened). I then use just one large treble hook.  A medium to heavy spinning rod is ideal, with a casting weight to match the size of the baits you prefer to use.

Rigged bait

Rigged bait

It is a seriously mobile method, best suited to coarse fish baits such as roach, rudd and small skimmers- although smelt is also a great bait. You can add a little weight too, and fish your wobbled bait at any speed – although one of the deadliest ways for bigger pike is to fish it really slow. As with dead baiting, you should strike quickly and firmly as soon as you see or feel a take. If a fish is following and not taking, you can stop the bait dead in the water.

It’s absolutely lethal, and seems to take an excellent stamp of pike, even on pressured waters.

Trotting for Pike

Pike fishing bait and float

Pike fishing bait and float

River piking is great fun, but it’s sometimes confusing as to why most anglers seem to prefer their bait on the bottom, completely static. On running water, pike tend to be fit and active, and a moving bait can work wonders.

By setting a bait under a decent-sized float to fish from midwater to just a foot or so above the bottom, you can search out a lot of water. You can use any hooking arrangement, but I quite like just one decent sized hook through the back of a smallish bait, hooking it so that it drifts upright.

Floating braid and a longer 12ft rod are ideal for this method. If you want to go ultra traditional, you could even try a centrepin reel, loaded with strong floating line.

The trick is to pay the line out carefully and let the bait search in the current.

Roach, smelt, sprats and others will all work well – and highly visible, dyed baits also appeal to predators. The bites tend to be lovely and obvious, allowing you to strike quickly. It’s definitely a method to try with just one rod, roaming lots of swims in a day.

Feeder Fishing for Pike

piking feeder method

Feeder method – well worth the effort

Whenever you are fishing on venues where the fish might need to travel a fair distance to find your bait, or the water isn’t very clear, ground baiting for pike can be extremely worthwhile. The smell of oily groundbait moving through the water attracts both pike and the fish they like to feed on.

The easiest way to try is simply by taking your usual pike leger rigs and adding a large swimfeeder instead of your standard lead. Many mixes work, but an effective approach is to mix a fishmeal based groundbait with some standard brown crumb, before adding a dash of oil.

With a heavy feeder, it can become cumbersome to cast large baits, so try a chopped half or perhaps a small sea fish or section of lamprey. Another thing I often do is to ditch the treble hooks and just hair rig with a larger wide-gape single.

When conditions are really ugly, such as in a muddy lake or when the river is flooded, the use of groundbait can make a huge difference. Sometimes I have fished my feeder rig and a standard version side by side for comparison; the ground-baited rig will often outfish the other by two or three to one.

Try one or more of these methods next time you’re out piking – and let us know on the Fishtec Facebook page how you get on!

Get more from your pike fishing this winter…

tangles with pikeDom Garnett’s book Tangles with Pike makes ideal reading for any pike angler. Packed with stories, articles and brilliant photography it covers many different methods and waters in entertaining style. Order it now in collectible hardback from, or as an Amazon Kindle Edition e-book




All images © Dominic Garnett