Going Soft on Pike
| Jerk Baiting
plastic lures, grubs, worms and so forth, are usually associated in the
UK with sea fishing. However, over the
last three or four years pike anglers have come to realise
just how effective this type of lure can be for their chosen freshwater
predator. The big difference, if you will pardon the pun, is the size of
soft plastic lures
that pike anglers are throwing around these days. Most are in the seven to twelve
inch range, when stretched out fully, and can weigh up to six ounces!
predator anglers were already switched on to this type of lure, using
bodies and curly tail grubs in the main. It was probably the success of the Bull Dawg, a lure originally
intended for the pike's
American cousin the musky, that sparked off the widespread interest in
lures in the UK. It seems
like the British pike angler has gone Bull Dawg crazy over
the last two or three years, and the capture of many thirty pound pike
on Bull Dawgs
has been the spur.
Not everyone gets on with this kind of lure, or perhaps too many
results, but those anglers who have become Dawg-lovers are branching out and
are more than willing to try any large soft plastic baits they can lay
their hands on.
It has to be said that it is simply not enough to clip a Bull Dawg on
the end of your
line, cast it out and wait for a thirty to hang itself! Like any lure it requires: angler
input. And while a
straightforward steady retrieve does catch plenty of pike, breaking
things up will pay off big style.
Although the majority of these soft baits look nothing like a
pike's natural prey, they do mimic fish in one crucial manner. They don't wiggle violently, and they don't
rattle - unlike a lot of hard plastic lures do. This is, I am convinced, the major reason
for the success of soft plastic lures. There is another reason that obviously plays a part, they sink. Some
sink faster than others, but those which can be worked
along the bottom in depths of thirty feet or more effectively fish a
that had previously been difficult to exploit. Especially with lures that had a big
presence, and which displace a lot of water - key elements in the success
that jerkbaits enjoy over other hard bodied lures.
Bull Dawgs are essentially large gobs of plastic with curly
tails, moulded in weight
and hook harnesses. Other,
similar lures are also available, and there is also the
option to rig yourself some large grubs on jig heads, with a couple of
on the very big grubs. This
gives you added flexibility as varying the weight of
the jig head allows differing depth bands to be readily fished. You can also rig large
shad bodies in this way, and lizards and other weird soft baits like
reaper tails (a
sort of leech imitation). They
all catch pike. Rigging a
soft body without a jig head to
weight it, gives you the option to fish the surface layers, and this can
be deadly at times. Smaller grubs and reapers, around six to eight inches in length,
have proved to
be real blank savers on those dour days when the pike don't want to
or crawling one of these lures slowly along the bottom on a jig head
will very often
result in a fish or two. Sometimes
these small, seemingly insignificant, baits will
produce the biggest fish of the day. Again it is their proximity to the pike that accounts for their success, I am sure.
Combined with their subtle action, which is less likely to alarm a wary or semi-dormant pike, than a rattling
and crazily wiggling plug.
While pike that are not really in feeding mood might take a
slowly fished soft plastic in such a gentle manner that all you feel is a light "tick"
on the line, at other times they will hit fast moving soft baits so hard that the
entire lure is engulfed as the pike tries to pull the rod out of your hand!
Sure these baits take a slashing from the pike's razor sharp teeth, and as a result require replacing
far more frequently than hard baits - although careful welding with a cigarette
lighter will repair many cuts.But they are
such good fish catchers that the price should not be considered. Just as
jerkbaits revolutionised pike fishing in the UK in the early nineties,
so soft plastics are taking things one step beyond today.