If you are relatively new to pike fishing, or indeed a particular water, perhaps the best way to start is with lure or fly tackle. For one thing, you will cover a lot of likely territory this way. Where pike are concerned, the more you seek, the more you’ll find. Novices will also have fewer problems unhooking pike, as they seldom swallow artificials as they do bait.
The choice of lures available is vast, but just a handful will catch you plenty of pike. Suitable options are discussed in the dedicated chapter on lure fishing. Whichever lures or flies you use, pike fishing often involves taking a few risks, because canal pike love overgrown, inaccessible places. Don’t restrict yourself to potshots at the far bank either; casting parallel along the near margin is also fertile territory and pike will sometimes attack from virtually under your feet.
Sankey Canal Fishing Photo Gallery
DEAD BUT WOBBLING
Wobbling or ‘sink and draw’ is a deadly way to catch pike, including the biggest. Baits can be mounted on a standard pike trace with the leading treble through the lips, but a much more secure way is to use a clip. Mine are simply large snap links, where the locking arm has been straightened and sharpened (see below) so that it can be threaded through both lips and locked securely.
Snap link with sharpened locking arm.
The author’s wobbling rig.
Flyfishing is also highly successful, and when faced with cold conditions and lazy pike, there are days when flies comfortably outfish lures. They snag less, can be fished beautifully slowly and have a subtler appeal to predators that have seen too many lures. On most canals, even a modest fly caster can reach the far bank. Nor are huge flies and shark tackle required; an eight weight and more modest sized flies no bigger than 4 inches add a degree of finesse to the experience. A simple floating flyline will suffice more often than not, although an intermediate or the addition of a sink tip can be handy for deeper canals.
My most frantic day’s canal piking of all time came with game tackle, when I shared a catch of 25 pike with my brother, all on the fly. Just as brilliant as the feel of the line pulling tight in your fingers is the minimal fuss involved; a single, barbless hook can be flipped out in an instant with forceps, ofen without the need to take the fish from the water.
Clear, rural canals offer terrific sight fishing. Lawrence Heaton-Wright spotted this fish in shallow water, before taking aim with a bright pike fly.
A powerful fish lunges at the net: strong tackle is a must.
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