Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some larger lures to try for big northern pike

6-inch Spro
For decades smaller lures outperformed larger ones for northern pike at Bow Narrows Camp and the west end of Red Lake, Ontario. But life doesn't stand still and patterns and trends change. For a couple of years now some of our anglers have seen good results with larger lures. By larger, however, I mean within reason.
One such lure last summer was the Spro six-inch sinking model, shown above. Tom Cieplik first brought this lure to our attention in July and quite a few anglers tried it afterwards and agreed. It's a pricey devil, though, so you probably aren't going to fill your tackle boxes with them.
Five-inch Super Fluke
Tom and his family liked the all-silver model but I wonder if the one above would be even better. It really reminds me of a redhorse sucker, a bottom feeder that is present in our lake and I'm sure makes a tasty morsel for any pike.
Another new lure, or at least new to us at Bow Narrows, was the Super Fluke. We had a group in late-July or early August that caught a bunch of big pike on this soft plastic bait. I think they fished it on a plain 1/4-ounce jighead but they might have had the jig-spinner rig shown here. They used the five-inch fluke, I believe, and cast it right into the shallows and then reeled it straight back to the boat, rather than jigging it.
I have written a couple of times about a great surface lure, the Live Target Walking Frog. This lure is about 5-6 inches in length and both "hops" and "walks the dog" as you pump your
Walking Frog
rod tip while reeling it back to the boat. It is an excellent surface bait and works great any time the water is calm such as in the evening.
The Zara Spook is another great surface bait. Again, the best length is about six inches. You are probably seeing a pattern to the sizes mentioned here. These baits are bigger than the 1/3-ounce to 1/2-ounce spoons we have recommended elsewhere on the blog, but they're not foot-long pieces of kindling either as are some musky plugs.
Northland spinner bait
One lure that has always worked fairly well is the spinner bait. Regular bass-sized spinner baits work pretty good but if you want to up-size you can go as large as, you guessed it, the six-inch long model. Two nice features about this bait is the single hook (sometimes there are two single hooks in tandem) and the fact it is very inexpensive. A pain with some of the lures however, is that it takes either a tiny rubber band or a split ring to keep your leader from slipping out of position on the bent-wire frame where your line attaches. I like the models such as the Northland which have their wire frames bent completely into a ring for your leader. Both single spinners and tandem spinners work well. Because of their affordability, you can carry a bunch of colours
Mepps No. 5
It's not new but the good-old Mepps No. 5 continues to be a top producer for big northern. It is curious but the even-larger Mepps Musky Killer has never worked very well on Red Lake. It is basically the same spinner as the No. 5 but with a double-long bucktail and, I believe, two sets of treble hooks.
The Mepps No. 5 isn't all that big, probably four inches in length. It has one set of nice, large treble hooks that are easy to extract from a pike's maw. The Mepps isn't as cheap as the spinner baits but you can still afford to carry a half-dozen with you.
It only happened to one angler last summer, to my knowledge, but the Rapala Tail Dancer also took some deep northern pike. This man was trolling off reefs in about 16-feet of water in June when virtually everybody else was catching pike in just a few feet of water. This just goes to show that all the fish don't do the same thing at the same time.
Which size Tail Dancer did he use? I believe it was the six-incher.
The 1/3-1/2-ounce spoons continue to work better than longer models at our camp.
Rapala Tail Dancer
For sheer numbers of pike as well as big ones, I would still recommend the smaller lures. But there may be times when these larger baits will do even better at attracting mostly big fish. One such occasion is when fishing in walleye locations. Lunker pike lay around these spots, ready to pick off any smaller fish that act injured. Many people have had these behemoths grab the walleyes they are reeling in. Bigger lures might just be the ticket to trigger those strikes in these spots.
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