How to succeed with deadbaits - the whole story by Andy Lush

To successfully and consistently catch pike on deadbaits or any other methods come to that needs a certain amount of planning. The best bait and tackle in the world will fail if you have not put some thought into where your quarry the pike is going to be, i.e. Location.

Deadbaiting is often a static method which needs supreme confidence in Location, Presentation and Quality Bait to succeed.

Location is the most important part of the equation, get this bit right and you will be rewarded with plenty of action, get it wrong and the blank trips will out number the successful ones! To locate potential swims I would suggest that some time is invested in plumbing to map out the depths of the swims you intend fishing trying to pinpoint the potential fish holding features, this can very easily be done with the simple set up shown in diagram 1

It is important to use a large buoyant float and a heavy leger weight. With this set up cast as far as you can - allow the lead to hit the bottom tighten down to the weight - then feed line out 1 foot at a time until the float appears on the surface now you know the depth at that position. Wind in 10 to 20 feet and repeat the procedure, repeat at intervals of 10 to 20 feet all the way back to the bank. You have now completed a thorough search of the bottom that will show you all the depth variations within your casting range in that direction. Repeat this "feature finding" procedure, fan casting in each swim until you have completely covered all the available swims. Now you have taken a major step to becoming a "better pike angler" instead of casting your baits and hoping you have now got precise information with which you can make your choice of swim.

The first shelf (drop off) should not be ignored it is often the most productive feature, place a float legered bait here! If any depth change past the first shelf can be found then position a bait here also, if you can reach with a float fished bait then do so as bite indication is instant preventing any chance of deep hooked fish! If you cannot reach with float tackle then legered baits are the answer, always use drop off indicators to indicate runs or drop back takes which can occur if your bait is positioned against the far bank or close to an island (fish cannot run directly away from you!).


Float leger
An un-weighted pencil deadbait float should be used for this method, being buoyant, weight can be fished down the line to nail the bait to the bottom and avoid drifting out of position. Set the float slightly over-depth then pull back until the float is cocked, when the bait is picked up, the float due to it's buoyancy will lay flat giving immediate indication avoiding any chance of the pike swallowing the bait on the spot and being deep hooked!

Long Range Legering
For long range legering it's essential to choose baits carefully they must be aerodynamic and tough enough to stay on the hooks when power casting yet soft enough to strike out of when the pike picks up the bait. My first choice baits for distance casting are without doubt a Sandeel or Snake Launce! These slender pencil like baits are often overlooked by pike anglers but they have produced many large pike for my friends and I. They fit the criteria perfectly without any special rigs! Sandeels being so slim have very little air resistance which allows them to be cast far further than any other deadbait and yet it's still possible to strike out of them - easily! Their flesh is not very tough unlike other long range baits but due to the Sandeels low air resistance the hooks are not torn out during casting.

Deadbait casting clip
Deadbait casting clips are essential when using "tough skinned" baits like Mackerel, Freshwater Eel and Rainbow Trout. These excellent pike catchers can present a problem when striking at long range. The casting clip takes the strain of casting allowing the hooks to be just "nicked under the skin". Another benefit when using these clips is that softer deadbaits like Sardine, Sprat and Herring can now be used at range!

Popped up leger
Inserting buoyancy into deadbaits has 3 benefits as far as I'm concerned.
  1. Due to the buoyancy the bait can be cast into shallow weedy areas where it will rest on top of weed, as long as the bait is left static the pike will pick up baits fished in this manner, confidently!
  2. Heavy duty terminal tackle - hooks and trace wire - can be used without any detrimental effect on the amount of pick ups you get. The buoyancy when counter-balanced overcomes any unnatural weight the terminal tackle might add to the bait.
  3. By moving the balancing weight along the trace the height that the bait sits up in the water can be altered improving visibility. Pike feeding or swimming near the bottom cannot fail to see baits presented in this way!
Drifter or rover
Finally fishing a deadbait suspended under a float might sound ridiculous but it works so what the heck! Either an inline sliding float or a drifter should be used, grease the line (if using mono) this helps it to float. Your float will drift through your swim covering large areas of water and pike. This method has the added advantage of catching fish that are not feeding on the bottom! Do not worry that itís an unnatural way to present deadbaits, pike donít seem to mind anyhow whatís natural about using sea baits in the first place but we all know how devastatingly effective they can be!

Quality bait = confidence = more fish
Always use the best quality deadbaits you can obtain, quality suppliers make sure their packs contain exactly the same size fish this eliminates waste, always look for packs where the fish have bright eyes and gleaming flanks this insures freshness.

Preparation is essential:- get the best bait and tackle plus seek advice from local pike anglers and you will seriously improve your pike fishing!

Andy Lush