When big pike follow but don’t bite, try these nifty tactics and lures


Giant, knee-knocking pike are notorious for following your lure, then quickly fleeing as soon as they see the boat. That explains why I’ve never caught a big northern on a boat-side figure-eight, as I regularly do with their muskellunge cousins. Instead, the high-percentage time to catch pike is during the early to mid-stage of your retrieve.


The 4¾-inch-long XR12 X-Rap

Knowing this, I make the longest cast possible with a big suspending jerkbait—my favourite is the largest Rapala X-Rap (above)—which I can work super erratically to imitate a panic-stricken baitfish. Once I attract and entice a pike to give chase, I’ll stop the bait dead in its tracks and let it suspend in the water column. The pike will then typically run into the motionless lure, open its mouth and devour it.

Surflon Micro Supreme is a popular tieable wire

Some days, though, the followers will viciously attack the jerkbait as it rises during the pause. For that scenario, I swap out my usual hand-tied fluorocarbon leader for the lightest tieable stainless steel leader I can find (above)—typically 13- to 17-pound-test—so the weight of the leader doesn’t slow down the bait’s ascent. I also replace the heavier stock treblehooks with lighter, razor-sharp trebles.

SuspenDots and SuspendStrips

During bright sunny days, on the other hand, the big toothy critters often want the jerkbait to dangle dead still in place. For that situation, I stick one or two lead Storm SuspenDots or SuspendStrips (above) on the belly of the bait—immediately in front of the first hook—so it hangs perfectly horizontal. On the largest, fastest-rising jerkbaits, I’ll even attach a light bell sinker to the front O-ring or wrap the hook shank with lead wire to keep it neutrally buoyant. Regardless of the conditions, it’s the pause that perks up the pike and triggers them to bite.