When you have a fish as aggressive as the northern pike, you generally have many great options for how to catch them. A big aggressive, territorial fish that’s always hungry and looking to assert dominance? Sounds like a great target for a long day out on the water! For years it never occurred to me to look at spinner baits as a great option for catching northern pike, but after a particularly unseasonal cold snap where all the fish were sluggish, Mark put away the crankbaits and brought out some spinners just to see if something a bit nosier, a bit slower, would be good enough to get the pike’s blood boiling.
Three hits in forty minutes later, we were all convinced, and Mark was teaching the rest of us how to fish with spinners. That was a lesson for cold day pike fishing that none of us forgot, and while I can’t speak for the other guys on the boat, I’ve carried at least a half dozen spinners in my tackle box ever since…especially when the weather has been colder and more overcast than usual.
Spinnerbaits are excellent shallow water lures for northern pike that are especially effective near shore and near reedy areas. The color of the spinner, size of the blade, and depth fished all contribute to the versatility of this favorite lure of many pike anglers.
While I know there are certain ways to hone in spinnerbaits for the area being fished by switching out blades, changing speed of retrieval, aside from making sure to have the proper weight on so I’m fishing the depth I want, I just set it up simply and see what we can bring back and if a 4 lb smallmouth hits instead of an 8 lb northern, well they put up a pretty fun fight, too!
My Favorite: The Booyah Spinner Bait – Often advertised as the best spinner bait for bass fishing, it is also great for other aggressive fish like the northern pike. I like it because it doesn’t require a jerking motion. Just attach the weight you want for the proper depth, and a slow easy reel on retrieval will get you some serious fishing action. This isn’t just because the name is very fun to say – it’s because this lure is just top notch.
Can You Catch Pike With Spinners?
There’s no question that spinnerbait can be very effective in catching northern pike. While I’m still a crankbait first then see what else we have type of person, many other anglers are the opposite. They go with spinners first and see plenty of action, including from trophy sized northern pike. It’s not just small ones or good eaters that strike – they get the full gamut of pike into the boat from little snakes to big chonking sea wolves.
So what advice goes out to all the northern pike anglers who are looking to expand their fishing arsenal with some good spinner baits?
Size of the Spinner Bait Matters (Maybe)
Generally larger spinnerbaits encourage bigger fish to bait while smaller ones will also get more hits from smaller pike. There is a caveat here, which is that I know plenty of anglers who say they have caught big 30+ inch northern pike on smaller spinnerbaits. So what gives?
Both can be true. It seems the size of the spinnerbait tends to (in general – because remember, small pike are crazy with hitting lures roughly their size) raise the basement of the average size pike that will tend to hit it.
So if you’re using an ultralight and even small pike hitting the lure is fun, toss on a small spinner and get all the hits. If you’re looking for slightly larger pike, move to a larger spinner that might get a few less hits but will be more likely to bring in larger fish.
Also keep in mind that larger blades might be a good idea if the water is muddy or murky since you’ll want more displacement to get attention. In very clear water, going with smaller, more subtle blades will often yield better results.
Know the Best Pike Colors
Generally there are some color combinations that will work better in certain times than others. Most of this is due to weather, but keep in mind that local areas can have unique conditions based on prey in the area, general conditions, and more.
The best pike lure colors tend to be white, black, or red for sunny days. Chartreuse and blue are often better on cloudy days. Have a spinner with red or orange might work in general on pike because what pike doesn’t like the easy meal of wounded baitfish go by?
Most colors have a time/place or season so give each one a chance but don’t be afraid to experiment. By finding spinners that reflect food in the area and fishing those shallow reedy areas, you’re sure to find some increased success with pike fishing.
Fish Around the Reedy Shorelines!
Pike love those reedy shores, and spinners in particular tend to do very well when you are casting them right off reedy areas or shores. The movement and colors means that you can get attention in an area where plenty of bugs and small bait fish take cover…which is another way of saying a buffet for small to medium sized fish. Which, in turn, is a buffet for hungry northern pike.
There are other spots where spinners can work, but those reedy shorelines are prime territory for pike fishing and if you want to get the most out of any pike fishing lure, you need to go to where you’re going to find the fish.
Don’t Forget the Figure 8 for Muskie
If you are in a lake with muskies, it can be worth doing the classic figure 8 by the boat with spinners to get a muskie’s attention and see if you can cause a strike. While this wouldn’t be a normal technique, if you have a shot at some decent muskie fishing, than why not?
Here’s a great first-hand account from an experienced angler on why he loves spinner baits, especially on lakes that not only have pike but are also home to smallmouth or largemouth bass:
How Many Northern Pike Will You Catch With Spinners Now?
As you can see, there’s plenty of evidence that anglers who prefer spinnerbaits can get a lot of action on the water from hungry northern pike of all sizes. Pick a few different colors and blade sizes to get a variety that allows you to really change things up depending on the condition, and then get to fishing for all those trophy pike just waiting for the right bait to land right off their noses!
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