Pike Fishing Tips: What Gear, Lures, & Baitfish Rigs Do You Need?

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Following on from my article, beginner’s guide to perch and pike fishing. Let’s start by choosing the right tackle to buy to catch the Northern and European pike. These are toothy predators, so they can be caught using a lure or a bait fish setup.

Well, to begin with, if you plan to do lure fishing for pikes, you would need a rod & reel combo, some line (monofilament or braid) for your reel, a steel leader, and an assortment of lures. 

If you want to try live or dead bait fishing for pike, you will need some basic terminal tackle, such as floats, stoppers, hooks, leads, etc., instead of lures.

To help you narrow down all pike tackle choices, I will share my vast experience and describe what essential equipment you need to start pike fishing and what equipment you should avoid buying!

What Is The Best Rod For Pike Fishing?

There is an immense offer of pike fishing rods and reels on the market! Honestly, a lot of the available product range is there only to lure (no pun intended) inexperienced anglers into buying obsolete pieces of tackle.

When choosing your rod, you must know what you plan to use it for. Do you prefer a universal rod you can use on multiple fishing waters? And at the same time, utilizing an array of different lures? Or do you prefer a specific type of rod, for example, a jerk rod you will only use for fishing with jerk baits?

My strong piece of advice is – to start with an all-purpose rod. If you are beginning with pike fishing, there is no point in buying a specialized rod. It’s much better to have a versatile rod, not one designed for only one technique. Once you have learned what techniques exist and what your preferred method is, venture out for something more unique.

A 2.1 m spinning rod, with a casting weight topping 60-80g, will cover more than 90% of both techniques and lures. Do not choose the most expensive ones, as they are made of high-modulus carbon that can be easily broken if mistreated. To start, a mid-price range rod is more than enough, and my personal recommendation is the Ugly Stik GX2!

If you plan to do mainly live bait fishing, you need a stronger rod to carry the weight, and it should be close to 3.0m in length. Using a 100g casting weight with a 3m length should be perfect! Check out the mid-range carp fishing rods of 12ft and a test curve of 3-3.5lb; they are a great fit for live bait fishing for pike! (and you can also use them for carp fishing!)

What Is The Best Reel For Pike Fishing?

When choosing your reel, aim for a sturdy mid-range spinning reel in size 4000. Steer clear from lightweight reels, as they will wear off easily when using heavy lures!

There is also an option of baitcasting reels. Personally, I would not recommend this to beginners. It is easier to master the first steps using a normal spinning reel and more versatile than the baitcasting tackle.

If your goal is mainly live bait fishing, you need a stronger and more robust reel. A big pit carp reel is also a perfect match for this setup, but you can go with any strong reel in size 4000-5000. While they are slightly more expensive, they are worth the money over the long term.

Braid Or Mono Line For Pike Fishing?

Choosing the right line for your reel is essential! A braided line is a must-have for lure fishing, but which is the best braid?

There are numerous braids on the market; the main difference you will notice is the number of carrier strains. You will notice numbers such as X4, X8, or even X12. The general rule is that the more strands in the braid, the rounder and the smoother the braid will be. But it will also be more sensitive to abrasion!

I would advise going with an X4 braid for the start. It is cheap, strong, and abrasion-resistant. It may not cast quite as far as the X8 and the X12, but it’s a good option for beginners. However, if you want an X8 quality braid, I use the Daiwa J-Braid 8-Strand Woven Round Braid Line! Considering the diameter, 0.20 mm should be more than enough. Colour is also not crucial, but if you fish in many clear waters, choose a camo colour (either grey or green).

For live bait fishing, braid is obsolete – Don’t use it. Just spool the reel with a great monofilament line, such as the Trilene big game from Berkley. A diameter of between 0.35 and 0.45 mm is sufficient. 

Best Lures For Pike Fishing?

I reviewed several lures in my article on the best baits and lures for predators. Generally, a selection of relatively cheap metal lures should be sufficient for a normal day of pike fishing. But if you want to prepare yourself for all possible circumstances, the list of lures is much more!

Spinners and Spoons 

You can use them everywhere, in many ways, and you will catch pike. Ramping up your collection with many colours and sizes is unnecessary. Keep it simple: you need shiny ones for clear water and brass-coloured ones for murky water. Do not buy spinners under size #3 – the bigger, the better! 


The next must-have lure is the spinner bait. Nothing beats it when fishing in heavy cover; it is extraordinarily good for attracting pike from a distance. In my experience, using colours such as chartreuse and pearl brings the best results!


From my experience, you only need one more lure: a soft swimbait rigged on a worm hook or a jig head. This is the best all-around lure you can buy and can be used from surface to bottom with various presentation methods. Fishing with soft lures requires skill and experience, but if mastered, you might find yourself fishing only with them in no time!

Pearl, white, chartreuse, and fire tiger are the colours to go. Do not buy anything under 12cm long, with 15cm being the optimal size!

River Pike
I love pike fishing any time of the year!

What Accessories Are Needed For Pike Fishing?

Besides your basic tackle, you will need several key items for your pike fishing trip.

First of all, a landing net. With some experience, you can land a pike only with your hand, without any danger for you and the pike. But for the beginning, it is best to use a landing net. Steer clear from fish grips – they are notorious for damaging the fish, especially if not handled properly!

I strongly advise investing in a landing net with a rubberized mesh! It will not damage the pike and prevent hooks from getting entangled in the mesh. You do not want to spend a whole fishing morning cutting your landing net with a knife to release the lure. 

Secondly, do not even think of pike fishing without fishing forceps! The pike has horrible sharp teeth, and any contact with your fingers will not be a pretty sight! Solid, long, and quality forceps will prevent injury and help safely remove the hooks without damaging the pike. 

Besides forceps, I also advise getting some quality fishing pliers. They are essential for opening split rings, straightening hooks, cutting leaders, and all other jobs related to your tackle.

Since pike are almost always released back into the water. Laying the fish on the ground when unhooking onto a good sized mat will benefit you and the pike from an injury! Pike are slimy and restless, so keeping them calm when unhooking or measuring is tough.

As a final touch, you need a fishing backpack/tackle bag and a tackle box for your lures (or terminal tackle if you opt for live bait fishing). Keeping your tackle organized is a big advantage, as it will enable you to adapt to any fishing conditions possible quickly!

A backpack/tackle bag is also a perfect place to store your sunglasses, water, food, camera, knives, and other stuff you carry on your fishing trip.

What Terminal Tackle Is Needed For Pike Fishing?

If you plan to go lure fishing, you will need leaders. Leaders come in several types:

Steel Wire Leaders

The first option is steel wire leaders. They can be purchased ready-made, or you can buy them on spools and make your own leaders (I prefer this option, as I can choose swivels and snaps).

Kevlar Leaders

Besides steel leaders, you can also purchase special kevlar leaders. They are much more supple than steel wire leaders and are great for finesse presentation with soft baits!

Fluorocarbon Leaders

The third option is fluorocarbon leaders. They have a big advantage when fishing in clear water, as they are nearly invisible. They are also very stiff, reducing lure tangling (which is crucial when fishing with jerk baits). The main downside is that they can get bitten off by pike! I personally do not use them just for that reason. 

If you plan live bait fishing, you will need a bait rig:

It gets a little more complicated if you prefer the live bait method for pike fishing. You must make up and assemble your live bait rig; this can be a challenge if you are a beginner. Basically, you will need a pike float, some swivels, beads, lead, and a wire leader with hooks. All of these items are readily available in any fishing shop, and if you want, you can also purchase a full, ready-made rig for a good price!

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of pike fishing-related items in the tackle shops that are not needed when first starting; please avoid these unnecessary items and stick to the basics.

Focus on the key essential items I have covered in this article; the rest can wait. Go out and spend time catching some pike! To start off, keep things simple and enjoy your time on the water without a ton of tackle slowing you down. Less is often more, especially in predator fishing!

Denis Savretic