Trophy Pike Techniques

Northern pike, with their tooth filled grin and aggressive attitude, have earned the title of freshwater wolves. They are typically ambush predators, and attack their prey with intense ferocity. It is this ravenous attitude that appeals to anglers. Below is a list of the top fishing techniques used to catch trophy northern pike.


The most popular technique for catching pike is trolling. It allows you to quickly cover a lot of water. This is due to both the boat being in constant motion, and the ability to use more than one rod at a time (check local regulations for the rod limit in your area). Try trolling along weed lines that are adjacent to shallow water.Trolling works particularly well during the middle of the day when pike are not actively feeding. After feeding in shallow water in the morning, large pike with hunker down in deeper weed beds. During this time of the day, try trolling over deep weed flats. Look for weeds that are close to shallow water feeding areas.One unique trolling technique that works well for pike is to troll in the prop wash of your boat. This is a popular technique for muskies, but it also works well for large pike. It is assumed that the prop wash disorients baitfish, which attracts the attention of pike and muskies.Popular trolling lure choices include large spoons, long slender lures, and large bucktail inline spinners.
This pike attacked a Zara Spook. Photo credit: Izumi Outdoors Inc.


Topwater is often considered the most thrilling method of fishing, and that experience is heightened even further when targeting trophy pike. These daring fish will often follow a topwater lure right up to your boat. Keeping this in mind, always check the water around your lure before lifting it up for the next cast. Often, pike will strike a lure right next to your boat.Popular lures include poppers, grass frogs, spooks and inline buzzbaits. With the exception of buzzbiats, leave long pauses during your retrieve. Pike will often look at a lure for a while before striking. Try waiting for up to 30 seconds at least once during each retrieve. It is not uncommon for a pike to strike while an angler is busy untangling a birds nest from their line.
Photo credit: Izumi Outdoors Inc.

Dead Sticking Jerkbaits

Jerkbaits can work wonders for catching pike, especially in the spring. The best way to use them is a technique called dead sticking. This is done by using a suspending jerkbait and leaving long pauses during the retrieve. Start by casting the lure, give it a few jerks with the rod tip, reel up the slack line and then wait. The wait time should be between 30-60 seconds. In the early spring, or if the pike seem reluctant to bite, then increase the wait time. If there is no strike during the waiting period, then give the rod tip a few more jerks, reel up the slack, and wait again. Repeat this process until your lure reaches the boat. Once at the boat, leave your lure in the water and scan the area with polarized glasses. Make sure that no pike is still following your lure before you remove the it from the water.
This pike fell victim to a soft plastic jerkbait. Photo credit: Izumi Outdoors Inc.

One-Two Punch

This is a technique that is well known to many bass anglers, but also works great for pike. Rig up two fishing rods and keep them both close by so you can quickly switch between them. On the first rod, rig up a lure that covers a lot of water. A spinnerbait, inline spinner, jerkbait or spoon are all good choices. On the second rod, rig up a large soft plastic jerkbait. Start off by covering water with the first rod. If you have a missed strike or a pike follows the lure up to the boat, then immediately switch to the second rod and make a follow up cast. Nine times out of ten, the pike will strike the soft plastic follow up bait. One thing to remember with your follow up cast is to cast past the pike, and then retrieve the lure up to the fish. This will prevent spooking the fish when the lure hits the water.
Huge pike can be caught through the ice. Photo credit: Izumi Outdoors Inc.


One often overlooked way of catching trophy sized pike is through the ice. The most successful method is by using a tip-up. Try using a very large bait on a live bait harness or quick strike rig. Live bait will work when the pike are more aggressive, but the most popular choice is a dead baitfish. Keep the bait suspended slightly off the bottom.Try locating the edge of a weed bed (a sonar or camera will help). If the regulations in your area allow more than one line, then try jigging a flashy spoon in a nearby hole. Active pike will hit the spoon, but even inactive fish will be drawn in by the flash and then spot the bait on the tip-up.Make sure to drill a large enough hole to land your trophy!

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