By popular request, here’s how to fish my Surface Pikes – Surface SLIMS and Surface Giants, plus all Juniors, Jointed Eels and Trollers.
I have always been a top water guy because I love the explosion of a surface strike. So, with that in mind, I built my Surface Pikes to have a good swimming action at a slow retrieve. To achieve this, I make my own lips in 3 different sizes with an old screw press in my garage (called “the pre-historic monster” by my wife).
For my Juniors, Surface SLIMS and Surface Giants, the wood of choice is northern white cedar. It is a pain to turn – it tears, and a good amount of sanding and filling is required. But, it is light and water resistant, two qualities that are necessary for a good surface swimmer. The lightness allows for livelier action, and its resistance to water prevents the plug from soaking up water and killing the action. Because the Surface Pikes have a lively action, they do not perform well in heavy currents: river mouths, breach ways, or the canal. These environments swim the plugs too fast. My Jointed Eels and Trollers are made with Alaskan yellow cedar, a denser, heavier wood that is needed to give these two Pikes their proper action. These plugs have a slower swimming action and fare much better in the heavier currents.
When I fish my Surface Pikes, I want to feel the plug working. You should feel a distinct thumping through the rod. If there is a good tide running that is what you will get. As discussed in the last newsletter, if you bend the “lip” down to a 45-degree angle, the plug will swim higher and have more action. I tie my leader directly to the plug, but it you use a snap or break away you will get more action.
After casting, let your plug sit in the water for a bit. If the water is calm, this will be the time it takes for the ripples to disappear. (Big Water plugs will make a splash when they hit the water and fish in the area will swim over to check them out. They can look pretty fishy just bobbing in the waves with their tails swaying back and forth, and I have caught many fish during this time.)
Then, give your rod 2 sharp pulls which will cause the plug to take a sharp downward dive down and then float up. This initial movement will cause a fish to strike if it has come by to check the plug out. (I know from the quick strike I get from that first movement that the fish was right there watching the plug.)
Next, start a slow retrieve, mindful of the thumping of the rod. Do not swim the plug in on a steady retrieve, rather break it up by stopping, swimming the plug down by reeling faster and letting it float up, or giving the rod sharp jerks. Give the bass the impression that your Pike is injured, sick, or somehow impaired and, therefore, an easy meal.
This really works. Last Fall I was working on a job next to a small pond. At lunch time, I walked to the edge of the pond and noticed a swarm of big bluegills and big largemouth bass swimming around together. I had only my fly rod with me, so I tied on my biggest fly (not very big!) and cast it in front of the bigger bass. They were not interested, but a big bluegill hit the fly. While it was thrashing on the surface, 2 big bass hit the bluegill, one mouthing it and taking it to the bottom of the pond. Moments before, they were all swimming together. But as soon as a bluegill (bait fish to the largemouth bass) was impaired, it became lunch.
It’s the same when you observe bunker schools that have bass on them. The bass are looking for a bunker that is injured or sick. After all, why attack a healthy baitfish when you can go after one that is swimming at half speed. That is why as soon as you snag a bunker the bass are right on it.
The moral of the story is: It’s the same when fishing your Pikes. You want to give them the action of a sick or injured bait fish. FISH THEM SLOW AND BREAK UP THE RETRIEVE!
And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record: Get out there and swim your Pikes so you know what they are doing before you fish them! Try different retrieves, and come up with your own standard for retrieving your Pikes and catching fish.
SLIMS / TRADITIONAL PIKE INVENTORY
I have re-stocked my inventory of SLIMS and Standard Pikes and will continue to add to it – SLOWLY –in the coming months. Check out my traditional pike inventory and my SLIMS inventory now.
I have also added new photos to my custom colors/special order webpage – pretty cool stuff here.
Next month, I’ll address my diving Pikes and the best way to fish them. And, of course, we’ll also announce the annual winner of our fr*ee plug giveaway.
PERMISSION TO REPRINT: This article may be reprinted provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: © Copyright 2001-2011 BigWaterLures.com. Reprinted by permission of Gary Soldati.