ANGLER'S MAIL features editor Richard Howard explains how he likes to search pike out, especially on rivers. He uses a 'sight bob' technique, described exclusively in this online blog...


MOST of my river pike fishing  has been using an adapted sink-and-draw approach – still one of the most underrated piking methods in my book.

It’s active, it searches the fish and fish-holding areas out, allows you to cover a lot of water, and hopefully sees you bump into a highly-prized specimen river pike along the way.

Walking with one rod and a bag of bits has allowed me to work a few different stretches on my local Sussex rivers, and help get a picture of what’s about on the predator front. I like to use what I call my ‘sight bob method’.

The business end consists of a Fox Popper (sight bob) with a pink bead above it and a stop knot, above a single hook trace holding a couple of AAA, and a single size 1/0 to 2 Catfish Pro hook.

Sometimes I add a sliding red Catfish Pro bead to the trace I’ve also been hair rigging my smelt deadbait on, using rig wire, with an optional silver and gold bead on the hair for extra flash in the semi-tidal or tidal water.

The idea is the rattle helps grab the pike’s attention, picked up by the lateral line. The beads add a bit of extra ‘bling’ as smelt aren’t the most visual of baits.

Smelt have a track record on my main river and it makes sense to me that a wobbled one has to be good call.

The sight bob rig - it’s pretty simple with just a single hook on the trace.

The sight bob rig – it’s pretty simple with just a single hook on the trace.

Nicely balanced

The beauty of this rig is that because it is so well balanced, a mini float rig you can trot along the far bank, rush beds etc.

And by tweaking the braided main line (30 lb), you can work the smelt vertically up and back down again without really pulling the surface float off-course or making a lot of disturbance on the surface to spook pike close-by.

You can also trot and twitch a bait, under broken rushes and branches alongside cover down the near bank – areas you would struggle to cast to –  searching out Mr or Mrs River Pike.

It searches out all the water layers and can win you takes when you’re least expecting it, with your bait silhouetted against the sky.

I always start with the rig at least a couple of feet off bottom – remember pike have their eyes in the top of their head – but you can alter the depth of your trot. There’s only a single hook near the head of your bait so there’s little risk of snagging.

I can also work the smelt into a slack on the inside and leave it there for a few minutes watching the buoyant pink bead and Popper for a twitch or two to see if a fish has followed it and there’s something ‘at home’.

Easy to unhook

This is a great searching method. And with Polaroids and a hat on, if you do get any follows from a tricky big ‘shovel headed’ fish that doesn’t want the bait on the day, you can always come back with a couple of ‘bait’ rods and sit on it.  I haven’t had to do this, yet.

Takes have been pretty confident, and with just one single hook on the trace, unhooking is no problem. In the past, I’ve had a 32-pounder, three or four 20s and a load of upper-doubles on single hook rigs, on lakes, mostly hair-rigging and have complete confidence in them, when fishing smallish baits like smelt and sardine.

Have a crack at sight bob piking – it’s a lot of fun, especially when there a swirl at the end of the run and your bait’s been nailed, or it’s grabbed seconds after ‘splashdown’ in a new spot.

It’s a method you can fish even if you only have a couple of hours to spare – you don’t need a whole day or loads of gear. You search the fish out. Good luck!

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