Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best fishing rods for northern pike, walleye

(This blog item was updated on Jan. 12, 2015 to reflect changes that have taken place in equipment since it was first posted in 2008.)

You can purchase excellent quality fishing rods and reels for northern pike and walleye quite  inexpensively.
The trick is to stick with top name brands which although probably made in China like the real cheap junk are usually still better quality than lesser-known companies.
For reels, the best deal will always come on open-face spinning reels. Companies like Daiwa, Shimano, Phlueger and Penn are usually good bets. Look for models that are made for 8-12-pound test line. Then spool this with the new fusion super fishing lines, rather than monofilament. Lines like Fireline Crystal are excellent and nearly as invisible as monofilament but far, far stronger. Although these lines are smaller in diameter than the mono recommended by the reel company, it's best to still get the same-rated line. For example, get 10-12-pound test fusion line, NOT 20# line that is the same diameter as 10-12 pound. The reason is the smaller diameter allows you to cast smaller lures and is less visible than the heavier line. If you tie proper knots and check your line for fraying from time to time, this stuff absolutely will not break provided you have your reel drag set properly. It is also has less stretch than mono and is more sensitive. These two attributes make it better for trolling (thinner line is less resistant to the water so pulls less and its sensitivity lets you know the difference between bumping the bottom and hits from fish.) You can also feel the tiniest bites from picky walleye when still-fishing or jigging. These eagle-eye fish can't see the line if it is 10-pound test or less. But if you still worry you can always make a leader out of mono or fluorocarbon.
A very good quality spinning reel in today's market should cost $75 to $150.
What about the spinning rod? Again, stick to name brands like Daiwa, Fenwick, St. Croix, Shakespeare, Berkeley. You want a medium (sometimes called moderate) to medium-light (sometimes called medium fast) action. You never want a heavy action.
Choose rods made of graphite. They are lighter and more sensitive than fiberglass. The best lengths are 6-7 feet. Although one-piece rods may have a slight edge for sensitivity, they are a pain to transport. There's nothing wrong with two-piece rods that will fit in a conventional rod case. You can get very good quality rods for $50 to $100.
What about spincast, also known as closed-face, reels? These are not as versatile as the spinning reel, can't cast as small of lures and in particular, their drag systems don't function as smoothly. However, in most instances they will handle most of Canada's gamefish. A tried-and-true performer is the Zebco 33 and an upscale model is the Zebco Omega. The 33 sells for about $25 and the Omega about $65. Something to keep in mind with spincast reels is they are very short-lived. It wouldn't be a mistake to get a new one for every major fishing trip.
Casting (sometimes called baitcasting) reels are always more expensive than spinning. They have a more complicated type of mechanism and if you want a decent one, expect to pay at least $150. Same advice goes on the brands -- get the well-known ones.
Casting reels cannot cast as small of lures as spinning and so aren't as versatile but their drag systems are far superior. When a lunker pike is streaming away from you at 10-20 yards a second, the casting reel drag plays out as smooth as silk. Spinning reel drags are far rougher. For this reason a casting reel is a better choice for northern pike but is not so good for smaller walleye.
Again, use the new fusion superlines and don't be tempted to get extra-heavy line strengths. 10-pound to 14-pound is plenty. I believe you could anchor the boat with just 10-pound. The smaller weight lines let you cast further and also let you cast smaller lures although 1/3-ounce is probably the limit. With a spinning reel you can cast 1/8-ounce, even 1/16-ounce lures with light line.
Casting rods are a little pricier than spinning but you can still get very good ones for $50 to $150.
A medium to medium-light action is best for casting. For trolling go with a medium action. It doesn't bend as much from the drag of the lure and line behind the boat.  A casting rod and reel is a premium setup when trolling crankbaits. For larger lures or trolling with deep-diving crankbaits, a medium-heavy action rod might be better.  You never want a heavy action rod. It's like fishing with a pool cue -- no feeling and no bend to help fight the fish.
 See Trolling for Walleyes and Pike.
Rods have their actions usually written on them down near the butt.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Which is better rubber or mesh landing net?

Frabill rubber landing net
Frabill Sportsman landing net

We have some of each at camp and I think I speak for everyone when I say that the rubber landing net is way better UNTIL you need to net a northern pike of 40+ inches. Then you wish you had the standard string mesh net.

The advantages of the rubber net are numerous:
1. Fish don't get wound-up in it like they do the mesh nets so you can release them more quickly.
2. Hooks don't get skewered in the rubber net the way they do in the string of the mesh net.
3. It doesn't develop "holes" like the mesh net does after someone has cut out a lure with a knife or after a northern pike has chewed through the string.
The rubber net is a hit with walleye fishermen. It allows them to quickly boat walleyes without fear of losing them or their breaking the line as sometimes happens when you just lift them by the line.
Northern pike fishermen like the rubber nets too for landing any small or medium-sized northern.
The problem comes when you try to land a lunker pike. The idea that the rubber landing net will sag and create a bag for the big northerns usually isn't realistic. These big guys just bridge across the opening of the net instead of limply sagging into the rubber.
So for big northerns the large mesh net is far superior.
Should a person carry two nets then?
There just isn't room in the boat. Most anglers already have their boats filled with extra rods, tackle boxes, coolers, fish finders and totes for rainwear, etc., and a landing net is a pretty cumbersome piece of equipment. It fits the best tucked neatly behind the boats' mandatory paddles that are wedged into side braces. You must have two paddles so theoretically you have places for two nets but I just think it isn't worth the extra clutter.
Just choose one net and stick with it.
Even though we furnish nets with our boats it's a good idea to bring your own. Then you are assured of getting the net you like and trust.
One option with the rubber nets and exceptionally large pike is to tire the pike out a little more before netting them.
They do also make very large rubber nets but these are quite heavy due to the weight of the rubber.
It's something to mull over this winter.
If you have any ideas or experiences you would like to share, just click on the little green window below this posting.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our bird feeder getting some big birds

Now that hunting season is over we're getting some big visitors to our bird feeder here in Nolalu.
This video was taken out of the kitchen window. The bird feeder is about 30 feet away.
This is one of two identical bucks that have come to eat sunflower seeds.
Brenda and I would like to extend everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Stay safe and warm this winter.
Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Looking back: How Red Lake got its name

Artery Lake pictograph mural
In just one more year Bow Narrows Camp under Baughman family ownership will celebrate its 50th season!

A long-time guest and good friend, Dave Myers, suggested I write something about the history of Red Lake and it got me thinking about the years gone past.

There are several books already written about Red Lake's history but most of these probably aren't sold anywhere but in the little town of Red Lake itself.

So, I thought I would follow Dave's suggestion and from time to time write a bit about what I know of the history of the area. It's too involved to do all at once so I'll make a series of it and call them Looking Back. I thought I would start with how Red Lake, Ontario got its name.

The fact is Red Lake is one of the most famous towns in the world. At one point it was the scene of the world's busiest air traffic based on landings and takeoffs. That was in the early 1930s.

The reason was gold, or maybe better expressed as GOLD!!!

In 1926, there was a gold rush to Red Lake that saw 10,000 people rushing to the lake by dogsled and canoe and eventually, by floatplanes and ski planes. What made it all the more remarkable was there was no road to Red Lake until 1948. These people came from the nearest railroad stop which was in Hudson, Ont., near Sioux Lookout. That was more than 100 miles away.

Despite the remoteness of the area, they came from all over the world. To this day it is still the world's third-largest gold rush. Only the Klondike gold rush and the San Francisco rush were larger.

That's the history that most people are interested in -- the gold rush.

But I always think history should begin with the first people in the area -- the native people. It was one of the blessings of my life to have grown up with the Ojibwa people who walked the land and paddled the waters of Ontario for countless generations.

There is evidence that native people lived in the Red Lake area for many thousands of years. I would like to read history books about them. The names of some of these ancient peoples are now lost. We know them by the terms archeologists have given them such as the Paleo-Indians and the Laurel Culture.

The problem, of course, is that they weren't lugging typewriters around or snapping photographs as they pursued the herds of caribou that are believed to have roamed this area after the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Book publishers were also scarce in those days.

So today, what we find of these ancient cultures are stone tools such as spears and arrow points along with some pottery shards and most intriguing -- pictographs or rock paintings.

I've seen copies of the first maps made by explorers to Canada and they called this Red Ochre Lake, or Red Paint Lake, not Red Lake. Red ochre is the iron oxide that some of these ancient peoples mixed with animal fat to make brilliant and incredibly long-lasting paint used to make images on flat vertical rock surfaces.

The funny thing is there is only one known pictograph on Red Lake but there are many on lakes just to the west in what is now Woodland Caribou Wilderness Park. The park borders the west end of Red Lake just a few miles from Bow Narrows Camp.

The pictograph mural shown in the photo above is from Artery Lake, on the border between Ontario and Manitoba, perhaps 40 miles west of camp. It is one of the largest such murals in the world and one of the reasons that the United Nations is considering making the park a World Heritage Site.

In one of our first winters in Red Lake, perhaps 1961, we lived near the Forestry Point and the home of Isaac Keesick, one of the oldest Ojibwa men in Red Lake. My father, Don, asked Isaac why this was called Red Lake. Isaac replied it was because this is where the ancient people came to get the ochre to make their paintings. Red ochre just doesn't exist most places in the Canadian Shield which is mostly granite. But here at Red Lake, along with gold and many other interesting minerals, there is iron that makes red ochre.

I believe that is the real story of how Red Lake got its name.

However, one of the first explorers to Hudson Bay wrote down a different tale and that's the one you'll find in the history books.

It recounts a story told by the native people that there was once a Matchee Manitou or evil spirit on the lake and that the people here killed it and its blood turned the water red, thus Red Lake.

Curiously, the one pictograph on the lake, which incidentally we pass every time we go to and from camp, depicts people in a canoe apparently attacking some sort of creature. The creature has no head, and some think this means that it wasn't an ordinary animal like a moose or a caribou but was a spirit.

So that's an alternate theory of how Red Lake got its name.

You can explore the history of Red Lake yourself. Next time you're here, try stopping at the Red Lake Heritage Centre.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Friday, December 19, 2008

What bears do in the cold of winter

Black bear den
When the mercury is cringing in the thermometer as it is during these coldest days of winter here, you might wonder how do the animals survive?

Temperatures in Red Lake are falling to -30 to -40 C. If you don't know Celsius temps just remember that -40 C is the same thing as 40 below Fahrenheit. These are cold temperatures any way you measure them.

Some animals have found ways to avoid the cold. The most obvious is the black bear who puts on a thick layer of fat over the summer and snuggles into a den in October before the winter snows arrive.

You might think they would dig deep below the frostline, like the true hibernator, the woodchuck, does. But surprisingly their dens are almost on the surface. Their favorite places are where a tree has fallen over and left a bit of a cave where its roots have been raised from the ground.

I found one of these occupied dens right near our home in Nolalu a few years back. You can see from the photos how unimpressive the den was. There's actually a bear in this den. The root ball that it crawled under measured about two feet high and was created when a small balsam fir, perhaps 8 inches in diameter, was tipped over by the wind.

The bear dug under this spot to enlarge the space so it could just squeeze into it. It then curled up and turned its back toward the hole.

Bears don't really hibernate. They just sleep and you can wake them up as I and my dog, Bud, did in this instance.

Bud, a Black Lab, would always growl when he smelled a bear and he started growling here. I knew he must smell a bear den but I couldn't see where it would be. Finally Bud would go no further ahead and I looked right at my feet and saw the little opening with black hair sticking out of it. About this point the bear started growling inside the den and we beat a hasty retreat.

Bears give birth in the den in a marsupial-like manner. The tiny, hairless cub or cubs as there are often two, must find its way from the womb to the teat, then spend the rest of the winter surrounded by its mother's warm fur. It's similar to how a kangaroo gives birth except there's no pouch.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spinners and bait the best walleye lures

Red Lake walleye
A great many of our fishermen are walleye experts and if you were to ask these people what they fished with just about every one of them uses a single blade spinner on a piece of mono with some beads and a hook. They bait the hook with either a nightcrawler or a leech. A common trade name for this outfit is Little Joe but most people just call them walleye spinners. Many people buy the components and make their own.

This outfit is back-trolled behind a sinker which can be a bottom-bouncer type with a piece of wire running through the sinker to feel the bottom or, more often, a walking type of sinker that is flattened and bent to do the same thing. Some just use rubber core sinkers.

Most of them place the sinker just ahead of the snell on the walleye spinner. So that puts it 18 inches to 30 inches away from the spinner. After a cold front when the walleyes are skittish, they might double the distance between spinner and sinker.

Early in the season these sinkers might be 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce because the fish are in very shallow water, no more than 12 feet. By mid-summer to fall, the size of sinker might increase to 1.5 ounces, just to get the rig to the bottom in the 20-30 foot range where the fish will be laying.

There is a wide variety of spinners used. Early in the year a favorite are floating spinners. These are usually made of foam with Mylar wings glued to them. The foam raises the rig off the bottom so it can be better seen by the walleyes. You can do the same thing by adding a foam float that threads through your line.

By mid-summer everyone is using metal blade spinners in a wide variety of colors and finishes.

The key when fishing with these rigs is to always be in contact with the bottom. You don't want such a heavy weight that your line is hanging right beneath the propeller but you don't want your line a mile behind the boat either. So choose the right size sinker for the conditions which can change with the wind and the depth.

A problem with some of the commercially made spinners is they use too large a hook. You always want to use the least amount of metal possible when fishing for walleyes. Usually the spinners meant to be fished with leeches or nightcrawlers have better, smaller hooks. If you buy the nightcrawler ones, they usually have two hooks and if you want to use them for leeches you can just cut off the rear hook.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Monday, December 15, 2008

Northern pike fillets are boneless, delicious

Y bones removed
boneless pike fillets

If you aren't a regular at Bow Narrows Camp you may not know that northern pike are every bit as delicious as walleye.

And since we clean all of our guests' fish for them, northern pike fillets are absolutely boneless here. Not only do we remove the infamous Y bones from pike but also a half dozen other bones that have no name but which I call "X bones." I've never even heard mention of them anywhere else.

The result is a one-piece fillet from each side of the fish, perfect for the fry pan.

It comes as a surprise to many people that northern pike and not walleye are the favorite of my family and our staff at camp. They taste nearly identical to walleye but the reason we prefer them is that after removing the bones the fillet is thinner and fries more evenly that do walleye fillets that have thick portions and thin portions.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The best fish unhooking tools for pike

jaw spreader
Bass Pro Fish Grip

Baker Hookout

You need some specific northern pike unhooking tools to safely and humanely extract your lures from these powerful fish with their mouthful of teeth.

First, you need good jaw spreaders of the type pictured above. This type has two T-shaped ends that go into the fish's mouth. It spreads the pressure so that the tool doesn't puncture the flesh of the fish. Poor versions have a single wire that will poke right through the mouth.

If you can't get the spreader in because the fish won't open its mouth, use a set of wide fishing pliers such as the yellow ones above to open it enough to insert the spreaders. These pliers are probably all you need to hold open the mouths of smaller pike and for walleyes. Don't use the jaw spreaders on small fish because the pressure is too great and can injure their jaws.

Finally, use the Baker Hookout to safely reach down into the maw and take out the hooks. Nothing is better at doing this but you can also use long-handled needle nose pliers.

Make sure you tie a length of something like parachute cord to the spreader and then fasten it to the boat. This will prevent your throwing the fish overboard with the jaw spreader still in its mouth.

Keep in mind when taking out lures from a fish that the best method sometimes is to slip the lure out backwards through the fish's gills, unsnap it from the leader, then resnap the leader so it can be pulled back out the mouth without catching on anything.

Oh yes, remember to re-tie your line to the leader, cutting off a foot or two, because it will likely have been nicked by the rows of diamond-shaped teeth in the roof of the pike's mouth.
Often it takes two people to get the lure quickly out of the mouth of a big northern pike. One holds the fish while the other does the "surgery."

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fishing with kids is a lot of fun

It's great to see many of our guests bringing their families, including children, to Bow Narrows Camp.

Just like they do with everything else, youngsters develop the skills for fishing very rapidly.

The best idea is to start them with lures with single barbless hooks, like jigs, Johnson Silver Minnow with a trailer, Beetle Spins, crankbaits and buzzbaits. These lures are less likely to get snagged on the bottom and also in the skin!

There's no point in starting a kid off with an expensive rod and reel. It's no big deal if a $20-$30 outfit accidentally gets dropped in the lake or stepped on. Most kids do best with a spincast and graduate to an open face spinning reel after a few years. Bring a couple rod and reel combos, just in case something happens to the first one.

Kids always prefer action and so I would suggest concentrating on northern pike fishing unless you know for a fact that the walleyes are on a feeding frenzy. Pike are fun to fish for because the kids get to cast for them. It's amazing how fast they become adept at this.

They couldn't care less how big the fish are, just as long as they catch a lot of them. The perfect place is a cove that's filled with hammer-handle pike. You run into these all the time. They're usually small coves and shallow and just about every fish you get there are exactly the same size. The fish are hungry and aggressive and will hit anything that moves. To a kid, this is fishing paradise. Maybe I'm a kid at heart because I feel the same way. My wife, Brenda, our youngest son, Josh, and I spent an afternoon in such a cove one time and hauled in pike three at a time for an hour. When they finally quit biting we had caught and released 100 and we've called that place Hundred Fish Bay ever since.

The thing to keep in mind when fishing with a young angler is just to have fun. If they're thrilled with catching little perch, than just stay at that spot and catch perch. Many times kids have a ball catching and letting go rock bass from around the dock cribs at camp. These little panfish are especially thrilling because you get to see them bite the hook!

It's also good to remember that kids' attention spans aren't as long as adults. They may get tired of fishing during the day; so, plan on getting out at a beach for lunch or exploring islands and the shoreline several times a day. Also, take along a lot of snacks and drinks.

Bring some games to play in case of rainy days and for the evening.

Most of all, enjoy how different kids see the world. They're more observant and are curious about all the new sights and sounds. Help them explore and investigate when they want.

Some kids quickly become ardent fishermen. We've had many boys and girls who simply wear out their elders when it comes to fishing. Others just like to mix fishing with all the other things they can do: swimming, games, exploring.

We're glad to have kids at camp and offer a couple of savings for guests who bring theirs.

There is no charge for kids under 6 and kids 7-12 are half-price.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Our small staff works in all weather

Bow Narrows kitchen staff
What happens when the camp generator shuts down and it's mealtime at the lodge?

The kitchen staff dons headlamps and keeps on working!

This was taken last year when we actually shut down the generator at noon because of a severe thunderstorm. (We shut it down to prevent its being struck by lightning) As you can see it was very dark, even at midday. But the show always must go on, even in a thunderstorm.

From left, cook Helena Spizarsky, Brenda Baughman, waitress Meghan Perry.

We have a very small staff at Bow Narrows Camp and they deserve all the credit in the world for making things go smoothly, even in sometimes trying circumstances such as inclement weather.

The only people missing from this photo in 2008 are myself and Ben Godin, our outside worker.

With just five people we do absolutely everything: take our guests to and from Red Lake on changeover days, load and unload tons of luggage and supplies from the camp boat Lickety Split, clean all the cabins, clean all the boats, clean all the fish, mow the grass, cut and split firewood, cook all the meals, do all the dishes, do all the maintenance work, pickup and sort garbage for recycling, build new structures, and of course, keep our guests informed on where the fish are biting and on what lures and baits.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Friday, December 5, 2008

Best time to fish Red Lake, Ontario

Dan and Sam with fall pike
A common question we get is "What's the best time to come fishing?"
This is a legitimate concern because on some lakes fishing is way better when the water is cool but is not so good in the heat of the summer.
However, that is not the case when fishing Red Lake, Ontario, and particularly the west end of the lake where anglers at Bow Narrows Camp fish.
Our anglers do excellent in all months and in all weather and water temperatures. The reason comes from the lake itself.
Red Lake is a big lake, about 30 miles in length and with bodies of water that are five miles in width as well as small shallow bays and winding narrows and rapids.
There are lots of shallow bays that appeal to walleyes and northern pike when the water is cool in the spring and there are deep water bays where the water never actually warms up, even in the warmest part of summer.

Our anglers just fish different areas to suit the weather conditions.
For instance in June walleye fishermen spend most of their time in the bays that are 10-20 feet deep and which warm up rapidly with the sun. Mostly the fish will come from 6-12 feet of water in these bays.
In July anglers continue fishing the shallow bays but also start fishing the edges of the deep water bays, probably also in 6-12 feet of water. It's at this time that it seems like walleyes are everywhere. While some anglers are catching them in shallow bays, others will be doing the same fishing deeper.
By the end of July many fishermen will be concentrating on 16-20 feet of water at the edges of the deep bays. They will locate very large schools of fish around points and underwater structures like reefs and humps.
Meanwhile other fishermen continue fishing in the shallow bays and will concentrate on fishing windy shorelines. It is possible that some of the fish they catch there have swam into the area to feed from deeper water.
Some walleyes will stay in the shallow bays until the first cool nights of late summer in mid-August. That seems at odds with what happens in other, shallow lakes, but it is exactly what happens here. After a couple of chilly nights that cool off the shallow water, the walleyes start streaming out toward the deep. By the third week of August just about all the walleyes will be out there and will be in 26-30 feet. They show up easily on fish finders and we catch a great many of them at this time.
But something else happens as the summer progresses as well. Large numbers of walleyes from other parts of the lake start appearing at the west end where camp is located. No one really knows why but the west end is deeper than the east and that may have something to do with it.
What about northern pike?
By and large we catch them in exactly the same areas in all months and we catch just about as many of them in any particular month. The methods for catching can change a bit.
For instance, the dead bait system for northern pike works the best the first couple of weeks in the spring and in September. The first week or two it works far and away better than casting or trolling. But after awhile casting and trolling work equally as well and by mid-June these systems work better.
There can be a slight change in preference for size of lures as the season changes too. Larger lures work better in spring and fall but aren't worth a hoot in mid-summer. How big is larger? In a Dardevle the 3/4-ounce is good spring and fall whereas the 1/3-1/2 ounce is best in the summer. For a Mepps spinner, the #5 is best early and late while the #4 is better in summer.
In a Rapala an 8-10 incher will catch fish in June and September but is like fishing with a piece of kindling in July and August when a 6-8 incher is way better.
Although we fish for pike in the same bays from month to month the area we fish in those bays varies with the water temperature. Early on the fish will be right on the shoreline. As the season progresses they back out into the emerging weed growth and by season end will be on the deep size of those weeds, perhaps as deep as 12 feet.
Some northern pike will follow the walleyes all year. We catch a great many while walleye fishing (with leaderless jigs and spinners!) However, it seldom pays to purposely fish for northerns in the walleye spots unless it just seems like you are getting bit off by northerns as fast as you can get your bait down. Then put a leader on your jig and get to northern fishing!
So the best month to come fishing is just whenever suits your schedule best.
There's also the weather to take into consideration.
May, June and September can sometimes be cool while July and August are almost always warm. This can make a difference when your fishing partner is very young, very old or the fairer sex.

Click to go back to our website
Click to see the latest on the blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Steel leaders for northern pike fishing

Northern pike have a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth so a steel leader is a must when fishing for them. Yet this is one of the most-ignored pieces of tackle for most fishermen.

Take the photo above. This leader is kinked and its wire is unravelling after a hard day of pike fishing which also took its toll on the black and white dardevle. All the paint missing from the spoon came from the dozens of northern pike which bit down on it.

Leaders are made of finely braided wire which flexes pretty well but which eventually will break. When you see your leader getting kinks in it or starting to unravel then it's time to put on a new one. If you are doing a lot of pike fishing this can happen a couple of times a day.

The leader doesn't need to be much heavier than your line strength. We advise using just 8-10-pound test fishing line for anglers who like to cast and 10-12-pound test for those who like to troll.

For leader strength, 18-30 pound weight is all that's needed. The point of the leader is that pike cannot cut the wire with their teeth, not that it is stronger than your fishing line. And just as heavy fishing line will prevent you from hooking many fish (See Lighten Up for Pike), a heavy leader will also spook away the majority of pike. It also interferes with the action of your lure. Your spoon won't wobble, your crankbait won't wiggle and your spinner won't spin right. So there's no point in using them.

The longer your leader, the faster it will kink. Most people use 9-inch leaders and I prefer 6-inch ones. Both sizes are excellent for casting.

There's no good evidence whether a black leader works better than silver but my personal preference is black.

If you like to troll, you can get away without using a leader at all if you use straight stick baits like Rapala, Rebel, Bagleys, Cotton Cordell, etc. The pike will just about always grab these 6-8-inch baits sideways leaving your line safely exposed outside their mouths. Leaders of any sort also interferes with the action of these baits when trolling at a steady speed.

Steel leaders are more of a necessity when casting these baits because the angler can impart twitches and pauses that entice strikes but which also results in the fish taking the entire lure into their mouths.

You should probably figure you will need 4-6 leaders for each day of fishing. You are going to lose a couple of them (and lures) to snags and you'll wear out a couple more just in the normal flexing that goes on with each cast.

They aren't expensive and don't take up much space in your tackle box so bring a good supply and change them often.

Click to go back to our website

Click to see the latest on the blog