Fishing in Ireland, Pike, trolling

Lucky Strike

With the collapse of all salmon stocks here in Ireland and the disastrous state of the trout fisheries I am turning more and more to Pike fishing so that I can at least get out occasionally with rod and line. I can’t be bothered messing around with dead baits so I spin or troll for pike in the loughs and my favourite lures are spoons. Big spoons.

I bought an old silver ‘Lucky Strike’ spoon the other day for a few cents. I’ve not owned one of these spoons before so I am keen to give it a swim. I imagine it will work for pike here in Ireland but they were designed for salmon trolling in Canada from what I can gather. This is a large lure, deeply indented to give it a flamboyant action in the water. Plain silver, front and back it looks to have the attributes of a spoon that our big Pike like to attack in cold water.

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This specimen, while in reasonable condition, needed some TLC before I could use it. Big Pike need to be treated with respect so any possible weaknesses in your gear need to be addressed.

Removing the old split ring

  • The swivel looked to be on the small side to me so I changed it for a more substantial one.
  • The top split ring was rusty and had to be changed.
  • The treble hook was in need of some TLC. Surface rust had to be rubbed off and the points sharpened.
  • To give the hook plenty of distance from the broad end of the spoon I added a second split ring between the spoon and the hook. I personally don’t think enough attention is paid to the relationship between spoon dimensions and the size of the hook attached to it. The simple expedient of adding an extra split ring takes only a few minutes but can make the difference sometimes. Pike hooks need to err on the big side in my book. When you open the mouth of even a modestly sized pike the gape is massive. It must be hard for a hook to find a good hook hold in there sometimes.
  • While I was at it I swapped the tiny red plastic tail and put a much bigger one on in its place. An old traditionalist at heart, I like a bit of red on my Pike lures. The wee red tail I took off was just the right size to adorn another, smaller spoon (waste not, want not).

 

The new, larger red tail

I don’t do a lot of pike fishing but this old spoon will be near the top of my list to troll during the coming winter. Silver spoons have always been a favourite lure of mine and they seem to do their best work in cold water conditions. Selecting the right spoon on any given day is far from an exact science and sometimes a different size, action or colour can do the trick when an old reliable has an off-day. A big snap link swivel on the end the trace allows easy and quick changes, something which is important on cold, wet days when any additional effort is best avoided.

Two other lures came in the same packet as the Lucky Strike, a big ABU Atom and a copper Toby. The Atom is one of those black and gold Zebra coloured ones in the 35 gram size. It will find a home in my box of Pike lures too. Over the years I have boated a number of Pike on Atom’s but can’t say they have been particularly effective. Smaller ones work well for jacks  but then those fish are not overly fussy.

The Atom, in reasonable condition

The copper Toby is a handy 30 gram Salmo version, the only drawback is that is is not a Swedish one. Not yet sure if I will hang on to this one or sell it on.

The weather is turning colder now and it is time for me to get back into fly tying mode. I have no excuses, the boxes of hooks and drawers full of feathers await my attention. Both salmon and trout fly boxes have ominous gaps in the serried ranks which need addressed before the next season starts. Old reliables will be tied but I have some new patterns in my head too. I’ll be sure to post my efforts here so keep an eye out for them.

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Fishing in Ireland, Pike, trolling

Split-ring the Atom!

Edinburgh Angling Centre – worth a visit if you are in Auld Reekie

During my recent visit to Scotland I dropped in by the Edinburgh Angling Centre. Just like its counterpart in Glasgow, this is a jaw-dropping cornucopia of everything any angler could every want or need. While I loved every minute of browsing the aisles I did feel a bit of a dinosaur amid all the new-fangled gear. The Pike baits in particular left me feeling distinctly elderly. Spoons and plugs make up the vast majority of my pike baits but these days you can buy the most amazingly accurate artificial fish (if you have deep enough pockets that is). I bought the bits and pieces I required but exited the building like a man who had seen a vision of the future, one he did not really fit into. I only dabble in Pike fishing as something to do during the close season for game fish. I can’t for the life of me see my wallet opening and £30 or £40 being exchanged for one of these super-duper glide baits.

I used to like the old ABU Atom for pike fishing and I recently had to re-arm one which I had picked up cheap somewhere. It was one of the 2 hook design so I thought I’d show you how to re-equip this bait (without sticking a dirty great treble into yourself). These Atoms with two hooks were buggers for casting as the top treble would catch on the line with infuriating frequency, but they are fine for trolling.

All the old hooks and other gear were rotten so the first job was to remove and safely dispose of them. That left me with a bare spoon to work on.

all the rusty old fittings have been removed

The originals sported one split ring to hold the top hook but I prefer to fit two smaller split rings so the hook has freedom of movement. This is the most awkward job so I do this first.

2 small split rings for the top hook

Next you add the new split rings to the top and to the bottom of the spoon. Here I use slightly larger rings.

A barrel swivel goes on to the top split ring.

I like my Pike spoons to have a dash of red on them so I fit a small plastic Vee to the bottom split ring before adding the treble, in this case a size 4.

I keep a few of the red Vee’s in my box just for jobs like this

Fitting on the same split ring that the treble will go on to

Finally, add the top treble (same size or one size smaller than the tail treble). I cover the bottom treble with a plastic hook guard when putting on the top hook to save any accidents!

top treble added

There you go, a finished spoon. In a world of fancy thru-line, holographic printed 10 inch glide baits this old school spoon looks to be a very poor relation but it still catches Pike for me.

Ready for action

 

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