Jason Mitchell shares his trophy pike rigging tactics.
When it comes to fishing for pike, there isn’t much that will be more effective than a tip up. How they work is simple: the spindle sticks down below the hole and the fish hits the tip up, spools out line, and the flag pops up. For bait, a lot of times people are using suckers, even big chubs, but on a lot of lakes, it’s tough to beat dead bait such as frozen smelt, frozen herring, cisco, anchovy.
As for setup, Mitchell recommends using 40-60lb dacron for the main line. This heavier line works better for a lot of different reasons: it pulls off the spool easier and when targeting big fish it’s necessary to have that heavier line. He also recommends using a heavy-duty ball-bearing snap swivel with a fluorocarbon leader. The reason he likes to tie a 40lb fluoro leader with a big treble hook on it is that he can hang the bait perfectly horizontal. He doesn’t add any weights, split shots, or rubber core sinkers – absolutely nothing extra to sink the bait.
A lot of times when hanging these frozen dead baits in the water, they have a tendency to float. So the biggest thing with dead baits is to take the tip up flag and poke the dead bait right in the belly. Then it is possible to actually squeeze the air out of it until it sinks. Make sure to adjust it so it hangs horizontal and sinks without any added weight.
He also recommends using just a plain fluoro leader and hook with no weights. This makes it easier you’re to catch more fish because there’s not as much resistance. Sometimes when you get a lot of weight on, it’s just more resistance that’s gonna pull that bait out of the fish’s mouth when it runs. Therefore it’s beneficial to have that resistance be really light.
Mitchell also recommends going with a single hook. He catches just as many fish but doesn’t have to worry about those extra hooks catching the bottom of the ice when navigating big fish up the hole.
In summary – take your tip up and poke the belly, squeeze the air out, place the hook so it hangs horizontal, don’t add any weights, and you should find that your batting average for landing fish with each flag will greatly improve!