White, yellow, and chartreuse are great pike lure colors, probably because they resemble the belly of a struggling food fish.
- IN-LINE SPINNER In early spring, before weed growth becomes a factor, focus on covering water. The bigger spinners are a top choice here because the weight lets you cast them farther and the blades throw more flash. Retrieve the spinner steadily, just fast enough to keep it off the bottom. Think Rooster Tail, Mepp’s, and Blue Fox spinners in 1/6- to 1-ounce sizes.
- SPOON Start by steadily and slowly reeling, just fast enough to keep the spoon wobbling. If that doesn’t produce, try a “flutter retrieve,” accomplished by imparting a jigging motion as you reel. Spoons are particularly effective along drop offs because you can precisely control the depth. Try Dardevles, Little Cleos, Thomas Buoyants, and Johnson Silver Minnows weighing ¼ to 1 ounce.
- 3. MINNOW-IMITATING PLUG Begin with a steady retrieve. If that doesn’t work, try stop-and-start reeling. Early in the season, use a shallow runner. As waters warm up, go to a crank bait or a soft-plastic swimbait that runs in the 10-foot range. You’ve got plenty to choose from here: the Rapala Original or Shad Rap, Rebel Minnow, Rattlin’ Rogue, C.C. Shad, Bomber Model A, Mann’s 1-Minus, and the Storm Wild-Eye Swim Shad.
- 4. SPINNERBAIT Draw a spinnerbait past sprouting weeds and stop the retrieve for a three count just as the bait approaches a possible hideout. Add a twist-tail or rubber-worm trailer for action and color contrast. Models abound. If I had to use only one pike lure, it would be a white spinnerbait with a trailer. If the water is a tall off-color, try a bait with a chartreuse skirt.
- JIG & a MINNOW or WORM As the temperature in the shallows reaches 60 degrees, pike begin to set up shop along 6- to 10-foot drop offs. These are best fished with a jig in full, 2-to 3-foot hops. Pike often take the jig as it drops; the strike may feel like a nibble or a perch bite. It’s not. Use bucktail and marabou jigs in the ¼- to1-ounce range.
- 6. SURFACE PLUG In late spring, fish top-water lures over weed beds in the calm water of morning or late afternoon. Over the years the combination of a slim minnow shape and propeller fuss has been most productive for me. Tie on a large (4½- to 6-inch) Jitterbug, Heddon’s Crazy Crawler or Dying Flutter, Storm Chug Bug, Smithwick Devil’s Horse, Sputter buzz, or Zara Spook.
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