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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve been fishing on the Thames for pike on lures and flies for around four years now and I love it. During that time I’ve caught other fish as well but it’s always been as an incidental capture, I haven’t really stopped to specifically target the perch, chub and zander.

This year I’m going to start and I’m going to buy some nice finesse gear to make it fun. Already got a Luvias 2004, just want a nice light stick to match it to.

The annoying thing though and one of the reasons I haven’t done this before is that accepted wisdom says you have to use wire in FW if you’re going to use lures because you WILL get bite offs from pike.

So you get a really nice finesse set up, everything’s really delicate, 4lb flouro or PE0.4, a split shot or small jighead and small worm or grub, or a tiny wacky head and finesse worm and then you have to add a dirty great piece of wire to the front to ruin your nice delicate presentation?

My thinking on this is that what I’m doing is no different really to guys fishing with bait, a lobworm for example. They don’t use wire. I’ve had pike eat swimfeeders, luncheon meat, maggots etc etc when coarse fishing. The result is generally a bite off and you will end up leaving a small hook in the pike. This is kind of inevitable and I like to think that a small hook and short piece of light mono won’t really cause any issues and will rust out in say a week or two.

So I reckon I’m going to fish straight through to a flouro leader this year and de barb the hooks I’m putting in my plastics.

I don’t think I’m doing anything different to guys fishing bait.

BUT...

What about when we start looking at small moving lures like little cranks and vibration lures?

My feeling is that these are far more a pike target and the trebles on there could cause damage or death to the pike by pinning its mouth closed. Still, I hate the idea that I have to fish a 2” lure on wire. It just doesn’t work for me aesthetically and seriously hampers my confidence.

What do you guys do at the moment?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I agree with you on the moving lures front.

But with a 3" plastic worm I cannot see how that is different to a guy freelining a lobworm. Any wire in front of that lure is going to kill all the finesse you try to put into it.
 

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David, when it comes to little cranks and vibration baits, I've taken to removing the lower trebles. Just leave the back one's on. I've found Perch and Chub chase down the baits anyway and often hook themselves through the lip. I've also found this helps with small jack pike of a pound or two that inhale a small crankbait. Their mouths are just not big enough to easily dislodge two trebles without some sort of bleed out so one treble (and debarbed) helps small jacks. I do run the theory that big baits equal bigger fish and I'm not monster catcher either with averages below 2lb in perch and 10lb in Pike, so I'm still waiting for a proper pike on a small lure, it just hasn't happen to me as yet. So in this senario I'd still run a wire leader, although be it a short one and as fine as possible allowing free movement of swivel and clip on the wire. Obviously beyond small cranks wre not talking finess anyway.

Moving on to small grubs or worms on finesse tackle then I too will be experimenting with targeting Chub & Perch this year without a wire trace. I agree, I've caught small jacks on lobworms on mono without problems and as the hooks are so very small by comparison a bite off will result in one small hook left in should it come to that. I think though that the finesse approach must include a finesse hook so I can't see how things can be any different to a deep hooked perch. They are greedy buggers and will swallow a single maggot or lobworm right down regardless. A Pike will be the same surely if the bait and hook are very small. It's a risk factor with any predatory freshwater fish but as long as finesse is finesse then I think I'm with you on this one David.
 

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When I fished with Vidar the other day he had some 10lb 'soft wire' on one of his rods. I think he said it was Drennan. Very fine and soft and I am going to get some for making chub and perch traces.
In the past I have tended to scale down swivels and clips and use as short (6in) fine wire trace as I can make. I am the same as you and still believe it kills the action of the lures. I have loads of UL freshwater kit that rarely gets used unless I am convinced there are no pike present.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It is really frustrating and that's the main reason I haven't got into it yet.

If I'm going to get as good at this as I can and maximise the effectiveness of the techniques then wire just isn't an option. Think about chucking tiny poppers under trees for chub. You just won't get strikes with a wire trace and you won't be getting the presentation you want. That could be great sport in some areas I fish but I'll just have to pass it by..

Elsewhere in the world where fish stocks receive less pressure, and where there are toothies like bluefish/cudas etc they just accept that bite offs will happen and only use wire if targeting those species. I guess we just have to try to be more far sighted here where fish are generally re-caught pretty frequently and the loss of one is a big issue.

I still think that on small plastics a barbless single straight to mono is OK though!
 

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I can't remember where I got the link from but a lot of muskie guys are switching to FC leaders instead of wires and not getting bite offs. Maybe a short heavier FC leader might be worth experimenting with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
David, when it comes to little cranks and vibration baits, I've taken to removing the lower trebles. Just leave the back one's on. I've found Perch and Chub chase down the baits anyway and often hook themselves through the lip. I've also found this helps with small jack pike of a pound or two that inhale a small crankbait. Their mouths are just not big enough to easily dislodge two trebles without some sort of bleed out so one treble (and debarbed) helps small jacks. I do run the theory that big baits equal bigger fish and I'm not monster catcher either with averages below 2lb in perch and 10lb in Pike, so I'm still waiting for a proper pike on a small lure, it just hasn't happen to me as yet. So in this senario I'd still run a wire leader, although be it a short one and as fine as possible allowing free movement of swivel and clip on the wire. Obviously beyond small cranks wre not talking finess anyway.

Moving on to small grubs or worms on finesse tackle then I too will be experimenting with targeting Chub & Perch this year without a wire trace. I agree, I've caught small jacks on lobworms on mono without problems and as the hooks are so very small by comparison a bite off will result in one small hook left in should it come to that. I think though that the finesse approach must include a finesse hook so I can't see how things can be any different to a deep hooked perch. They are greedy buggers and will swallow a single maggot or lobworm right down regardless. A Pike will be the same surely if the bait and hook are very small. It's a risk factor with any predatory freshwater fish but as long as finesse is finesse then I think I'm with you on this one David.
Bravo!

That has to be the way forward. I really want to hone my softbait skills this year so am thinking I'll try to fish them to the exclusion of hard baits. And yes this will solely be a finesse affair. Thinking hooks no bigger than a 2 and no heavier flouro leader than 6lb, more likely 4lb.

There will be bite offs unfortunately, it's kind of a given but I reckon that if I concentrate my presentations on areas where I am more likely to catch the chub and perch (not sure this will be that easy) and focus on more wormy type lures rather than fish shaped I will keep pike encounters to a minimum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I can't remember where I got the link from but a lot of muskie guys are switching to FC leaders instead of wires and not getting bite offs. Maybe a short heavier FC leader might be worth experimenting with.
I used 100lb Seaguar as a leader instead of wire for pike for two years on swimbaits and spinnerbaits. Had a couple of nicks but no terminal bite offs. Last year I was using it on fly and had a jack of about 3lb that bit clean through with almost no resistance.

I think its a 95% system. I've stopped using it because I think the safety vs invisibility vs flexibility is skewed in favour of a knottable wire like tyger wire.

Annoyingly I was the person telling my fishing mates how great it was and how it was such a great advancement. I try to keep it quiet that I've changed back...
 

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Personally as others have said if there is Pike in the system, then I fish with wire. Personally I rate the newer titanium memory single strands. Very thin, flexible DON'T kink. I have caught plenty of Perch while using it.
As for the 100lb Seaguar, I have seen heavier leader than that bitten off on the take. So many people I know have tried Mono and Fluro leaders, and sadly they have ended up with the same experience you have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Re the flouro guys that fish in the US for muskie swear by it. I went two years with no bite offs despite the hooks being inside the fish's mouth. I've used wire and had it fail as well. You could be using 100lb wire and then pop your braid because of a wind knot. Unfortunately nothing is fail safe completely and there is no 100% system that prevents harming fish unless you stop fishing which just isn't an option..
 

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I do think Perch are more wary of wire than Pike who don't seem to give a toss. I've got some Knot 2 kinky 'stretch' titanium nickel alloy wire, it's thin and easy to knot BUT you can't crimp it, it simply breaks at the crimp under tension. I've also tried a double loop and lifting a dead weight of 18lb but interestingly the 25lb wire went well before I got the 18lb weight off the ground. Tried with 'crimped' esox titanium wire too and that went several times just before lift off so thats well below the quoted 20lb. I've yet to find a very thin wire but I'd happily use 10lb IF I knew it wouldn't go well before it's quoted BS. The nylon coated stainless steel 10lb wire I have got goes at around 6lb and I can bite through it with my teeth. I've not tried the Tyger wire but it would be interesting to see how it shapes up compared to it's BS.

I have a pond by me thats crammed with Perch up to 2lb (so far), used to fish it but can't get a ticket for it now, but I'm working on it. It's been Pike free for many years so should I get a ticket later in the year I will be targeting the perch on very light lines. The freedom to go VERY UL and finesse will be so much fun.
 

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I think its a 95% system. I've stopped using it because I think the safety vs invisibility vs flexibility is skewed in favour of a knottable wire like tyger wire.
Spot on observation!!

I too used a 120Ib FC leader for a while until a pike bit straight through it so never again.

I have on occasions used 10Ib FC for perch but it is virtually impossible to avoid jacks even on small 2 inch soft plastics so bit-offs did occur, and now I simply don’t use it anymore. Trust me, if pike are present you will catch them even on the smallest lure.

For perch I use 10Ib Drennan Soft Strand wire or 5kg Pro Leader. The Drennan Soft Strand in 15Ib wire is equally fantastic when vertical jigging for zander and is now my number one choice for this too.

http://www.thefriendlyfisherman.co....-tackle/pike-accessories/wire-crimps-etc.html

http://www.sportfish.co.uk/product/pro-leader-knotable-wire
 

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I have on occasions used 10Ib FC for perch but it is virtually impossible to avoid jacks even on small 2 inch soft plastics so bit-offs did occur, and now I simply don’t use it anymore. Trust me, if pike are present you will catch them even on the smallest lure.
That's very true, they are not at all fussy but a 2" grub still can have a big single hook on the jig head. Personally i'm thinking of much much smaller hook sizes for finesse fishing and no jig heads at all. Presentation is the key and adapting styles such as carolina/drop shot and wacky rigging with small hooks makes me feel a lot better than a 1/0 hook on a 3gr jig head. Virtually every jig head has a hook much bigger than the single hook aspect of a treble hook and it often just one barb that holds a bloody big fish by the lip, does it not?

After all, you were the man that landed a 16lb pike on a size 16 float fished single maggot Vidar.
 

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I always use a wire trace as it doesn't make sense to hook a decent fish and just wait when the lure will be bitten off. There are many soft traces materials on the market nearly as soft as mono lines. Personally I use use what I am selling so Dragon's Surrfstrand 7x7kg is my choice for the smallest lures I use.

Probably a single barbless hook will not cause much damage to the pike but this is not a good reason to justify not using a wire leader.
 

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I do think Perch are more wary of wire than Pike who don't seem to give a toss.
I think that's where I'm going. And then if we include chub as well I'm pretty sure that they will be a degree more leader shy again.

There's a difference between catching loads of perch and feeling that you are using the best techniques and set up to maximise your chances. I catch loads of perch when I'm fishing for pike. I also catch them on Rapala Super Shads, 2oz spinnerbaits and 10" flies on a 10wt but I certainly wouldn't use these captures as a sign that this was the best way to go about it. It does however suggest that on a larger lure you can get away with wire. I think the fish gets so keyed on the size of the potential meal that it overlooks the piece of metal at the front. Also that the action of a larger lure is violent enough that the effect of the wire is minimised.

Playing devil's advocate here.... In terms of harm to a pike if a bite off should occur I think a hook size greater than a 2, and more so if it's a jighead, will possibly cause harm and impair feeding although I believe most will fall out after a week or so as the fish's flesh around the hook entry softens, not all will of course. Ethically I wouldn't feel comfortable with this and also as Vidar has said I don't think that wire on a 2/0-3/0 jighead will make too much difference, although I'm sure it does prevent some fish from taking confidently especially in clear water. Hook sizes from size 2 - 8, here I'm less convinced that they will have a negative effect on feeding. These are hook sizes that will be used by other anglers who will also have pike encounters, and they certainly will not be using wire. On these hook sizes wire will absolutely have a negative effect on the number of bites. With these, ethically, I don't think I have an issue.

Say we ignore pike for a second and look at general coarse fishing. Break offs occur, hooks get left in fish, its seen as an unfortunate occurrence but it happens. And if it's a small hook in most cases the fish will survive. It will certainly have more of a chance than one that's been handled badly or kept in a keep net.

With these finesse techniques I won't be targeting pike. In the same way that someone freelining a lobworm isn't targeting pike, or the guy retrieving two lumo boilies or a small roach on 1lb hooklink. We don't suggest that they use wire, just in case, so why do we all feel so obliged just because we're using plastic rather than bait?

Devil's advocate remember.. Don't shoot me! :)
 

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I do think Perch are more wary of wire than Pike who don't seem to give a toss.

I think that's where I'm going. And then if we include chub as well I'm pretty sure that they will be a degree more leader shy again.

There's a difference between catching loads of perch and feeling that you are using the best techniques and set up to maximise your chances. I catch loads of perch when I'm fishing for pike. I also catch them on Rapala Super Shads, 2oz spinnerbaits and 10" flies on a 10wt but I certainly wouldn't use these captures as a sign that this was the best way to go about it. It does however suggest that on a larger lure you can get away with wire. I think the fish gets so keyed on the size of the potential meal that it overlooks the piece of metal at the front. Also that the action of a larger lure is violent enough that the effect of the wire is minimised.

Playing devil's advocate here.... In terms of harm to a pike if a bite off should occur I think a hook size greater than a 2, and more so if it's a jighead, will possibly cause harm and impair feeding although I believe most will fall out after a week or so as the fish's flesh around the hook entry softens, not all will of course. Ethically I wouldn't feel comfortable with this and also as Vidar has said I don't think that wire on a 2/0-3/0 jighead will make too much difference, although I'm sure it does prevent some fish from taking confidently especially in clear water. Hook sizes from size 2 - 8, here I'm less convinced that they will have a negative effect on feeding. These are hook sizes that will be used by other anglers who will also have pike encounters, and they certainly will not be using wire. On these hook sizes wire will absolutely have a negative effect on the number of bites. With these, ethically, I don't think I have an issue.

Say we ignore pike for a second and look at general coarse fishing. Break offs occur, hooks get left in fish, its seen as an unfortunate occurrence but it happens. And if it's a small hook in most cases the fish will survive. It will certainly have more of a chance than one that's been handled badly or kept in a keep net.

With these finesse techniques I won't be targeting pike. In the same way that someone freelining a lobworm isn't targeting pike, or the guy retrieving two lumo boilies or a small roach on 1lb hooklink. We don't suggest that they use wire, just in case, so why do we all feel so obliged just because we're using plastic rather than bait?

Devil's advocate remember.. Don't shoot me! :)
No need for shooting here.

The occasional break off and a fish that die on you can indeed happen and anyone who is unwilling to accept that should promptly pack in his or her rods. However, I’m a firm believer in minimizing the risk and with some of the extremely soft and flexible leader materials available today you really have no problem fishing jig heads down to as little as 3 grams.

Perch can indeed be a bit wire shy so choosing the right leader material can in certain circumstances significantly increase your catch rate.
 

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I recently bought some little 1.5" woodlouse plastic bugs thingies and some size 4 finesse guard hooks. I bought these to target chub and i'll be freelining them on 6lb mono.

Do I need a leader just because the river will contain pike?
If I go UL and try some 10lb wire on 10lb Braid it'll change the presentation of the Woodlouse no end BUT surely 10lb isn't heavy enough as I know there's 20lb+ Pike in that river so in all fairness I shouldn't really bother as I also risk snapping my leader SHOULD I hook a big Pike that dives for cover?

One arguement can be countered by another. Pike is a Pike and I can't see the 'try a fine leader' arguement to be any more valid as there's always a chance of hooking a monster from the deep so in theory you shouldn't be using fine leaders either.

I seriously believe 6lb mono and no wire is the way to go in that situation, a 3gr jig head and size 1/0 hook is a different matter and I would use a leader, and do at the moment.

Again please don't shoot me, I just believe finesse should be that and if a bite off does occur it'll be a very small hook left behind. I'd rather it was NO hook but I can't see how we can progress to trying new and exciting techniques of we don't think very carefully about the 'right' way to go about it.
 

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If I go UL and try some 10lb wire on 10lb Braid it'll change the presentation of the Woodlouse no end BUT surely 10lb isn't heavy enough as I know there's 20lb+ Pike in that river so in all fairness I shouldn't really bother as I also risk snapping my leader SHOULD I hook a big Pike that dives for cover?

One arguement can be countered by another. Pike is a Pike and I can't see the 'try a fine leader' arguement to be any more valid as there's always a chance of hooking a monster from the deep so in theory you shouldn't be using fine leaders either.
With a descent technique and a correct set reel drag you would have little or no problems landing a 20Ib pike on 10Ib braid and leader.

When in the mood pike can take almost any natural or artificial bait, but many years of experience has taught me to expect a much higher percentage of pike showing interest when lure as opposed to bait fishing. Your “bug” will be just fine on 6Ib mono.
 
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