Landing a pike is no easy feat. The fight is part of what brings anglers back fishing for these freshwater wolves over and over again. And every single experienced angler has learned the hard way from hand gashes and old scars to watch the hands when those heads start shaking. While getting them in the boat and off the hook is a moment of triumph…sometimes they still manage to make a fool of you in the end.
No fish has torn apart, wriggled loose, or otherwise pulled the stringer apart more often than a pike and for anglers who have never experienced that before (which is most of us until we get unlucky) are going to be extremely surprised because honestly it’s just not that common. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a story of another fish managing to rip apart the stringer after being caught.
So what is the best stringer for northern pike? How do you put pike on a stringer without getting injured and without the fish getting away?
Read on for answers to all these questions, my pick for the best heavy duty stringer for pike, and more!
My Pick for Best Heavy Duty Stringer for Pike:
If you’re picking a stringer for northern pike it needs to be a heavy duty stringer. Pike not only have razor sharp teeth, they not only reach major sizes, but pound for pound they are fighters.
They will shake, twist, thump, and do whatever they can as long as they have even an ounce of energy left to find a way out, to fight against being caught. That will test even the best of stringers.
In my experience the metal stringer is the way to go. Northern pike can tear up all kinds of material, and while metal isn’t even a guarantee, it’s far better than nylon rope. That’s for sure.
Many metal stringers look the same, especially if you’re shopping online, and we all know that not all goods are created equal. That’s why I strongly suggest going with a reliable stringer that was produced and has a track record from before mass drop shipping was a thing.
My top pick is simple, because I found one stringer for northern pike that has yet to fail me.
Top Pick: Eagle Claw Invincible Chain Stringer
These are the stringers that Dad used year after year in Canada after he found out that he needed something stronger and they held up. He would still use the pliers to crimp them shut – because why take the chance?
But these performed admirably year after year, trip after trip, and there were times we had a lot of good-sized pike putting a lot of weight on the stringer as we trolled with the electric motor for another go-round.
How Do You Put Pike on a Stringer?
While the question of how do you put a northern pike on a stringer might seem oddly simple at first, but have you see a gaping maw of northern pike teeth recently? There’s a reason they cause so many gashes and hand injuries to anglers. So to consistently get them on the stringer without injury (and trust me, as much as I love good fishing gloves they don’t do dick against a pike’s mouth full of razor blades they call teeth) and still securely is a bit of a challenge.
Two Methods for Putting Pike on a Stringer
The first method is to slide the open section of an individual stringer loop through the gill, out the math, and then latch it shut. While this is the method I’ve seen many people use for fish, there are some pretty good reasons for not doing that technique with northern pike.
The plate-like dorsal fin, large head, and rows and rows of razor sharp pike teeth are some of the good reasons to maybe try a slightly different method.
The second method is the one I learned and the method my Dad uses, though unlike the video he used top of the mouth versus bottom, which with northern pike is much more viable because of the shape of their heads.
While that definitely is a not a pike in the video below, it does show the right technique for tightly securing these fish. In fact, this video guide shows the first method, which is better for smaller fish, and the second which we always used with pike.
Method for Stringing Fish (Pike) Video
It is worth noting that there are different types of stringers, which may require slight alterations to how you do things to get them to work the most effectively. With northern pike I’m a big proponent of using the upper lip with a heavy duty metal stringer. Some pike anglers I know have a “puncher” for making that hole.
Regardless of choice or style, always have a heavy duty pair of gloves to protect your hands and especially your fingers.
And why a
Video of a Caught Pike with Other Fisherman’s Stringer in Its Mouth
No question that is an odd day, but for the experienced angler who has dealt with a enough northerns, it isn’t surprising 🙂
The Pike Broke Dad’s Metal Stringer
My Dad experienced the problem of aggressive pike getting away from him after the fish had been caught, netted, and been put on a stringer. The thing was that in this case it wasn’t a rope stringer that was fraying under the weight of a large stringer getting dragged along while trolling or a cheap stringer that was fine and dandy for smaller bass but not pike.
This was a heavy duty metal stringer, one made not from aluminum but actual stainless steel. In other words these weren’t getting bit through. So how did he lose the biggest of several good sized pike from that day?
When he brought up the stringer as we got ready to come into the dock, the 6 northern pike were five and a wide open clip, mocking the proud angler where that biggest of pike used to be. It had wriggled around so much in the water that it managed to unlock the latch, bending it outward slightly and swam off while no one noticed.
We were too busy trolling for another big pike to add to the stringer…and apparently the snake found its opportunity and took it!
After that Dad added a new bit of fishing equipment that he would never leave dock without: pliers. Even with the stainless steel fish stringers, after clipping them in he would use the pliers to clamp down on the metal to really lock that fish in.
Back at dock that meant you needed a pair of needle nose pliers to open the crimped shut metal to get them out, but it’s worth not losing another 12 pound pike before the fish fry that night.
Getting a fish stringer that works well for northern pike is a lot different than getting a stringer for other types of fish. Pikes have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth, they keep fighting long after other fish have lost all will to keep fighting, and they are big and fierce enough to sometimes break free of a stringer. While a cheap panfish stringer or one for trout might do the job with other fish, it would be a mistake to assume that those could handle the ornery northern pike.
If you’re going to be fishing for northern pike you want a heavy duty stringer. When you have a half dozen 10-12 pounders on one super heavy stringer, you’ll be glad you did!
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