Different Deadbaits for Pike Fishing | Which Ones?

There are a fair few different deadbaits for pike fishing on the market nowadays. Generally speaking, these can be purchased from most local tackle dealers and fishmongers including the ones in the major supermarkets. All of the baits featured below are good deadbaits to use for pike due to their size, smell, and ability to stay on the hook while casting.

Dead baiting is generally used for winter pike fishing as opposed to summer piking. The main reason for this is due to the way the pike takes the bait. In the warmer months, the pike have a lot of energy and tend to hit the baits hard and aggressively. Usually, but not always, deadbaits will have two treble hooks attached to them. When the pike hits the deadbaits hard they will quite often swallow the hooks down into their stomach. This will quite often prove fatal for the pike.

In the winter months, the pike are storing up much-needed energy in the colder temperatures. They are less likely to be so aggressive and therefore less likely to swallow the bait so far down. They don’t want to be chasing prey so much and are more likely to scavenge for a meal. This being said you will still want to strike hard and early. This will increase your chance of not deep hooking the pike.

Using different deadbaits for pike fishing will enhance your chance of sussing out what the fish want on the day. I will quite often start a session by having two rods out. These will have a different bait on each one to see which bait they prefer. Right, let’s have a look at my favourite types of deadbaits for catching the mighty pike.

Different Deadbaits for Pike Fishing


Mackerel can be a very good deadbait for pike. These fish are nice and oily And are quite hard-wearing. This makes them good for casting a fair distance. With the bigger mackerel, you can fish them whole if your tackle can handle it. If not, simply cut them in half. Just be sure to have at least one hook in the tail. This is the toughest part of the fish and will help with keeping that bait on the end of your line. If you hear the term ‘joey mackerel’ this just means ‘small mackerel’ usually about eight inches long.


Smelt are pretty much white in colour and are another great deadbait. These fish are nice and smelly and like the mackerel, they are quite a tough bait. This makes them good for a number of casts if needed.


Sardines are another good bait if you are after catching a winter pike. Sardines are also known to us as pilchards and are actually part of the herring family. These are quite oily fish so they do make a good pike bait. But they are not very tough fish. This makes them prone to coming off the hooks while casting. I would suggest using them frozen, this will help you keep them on the hook. Once thawed out I wouldn’t be casting too far with these, you maybe get two casts out of one bait if you are lucky.


Dead trout can be a truly productive bait when it comes to winter pike fishing. I do a fair bit of reservoir fishing in the winter and these reservoirs hold plenty of trout of all sizes. This is the main venue where I Like to use trout deadbaits for obvious reasons. Although I would happily use trout on a river as well.


Pollan is a freshwater fish that are quite often available from your local tackle dealers. These fish are actually native to Ireland and apparently taste a bit like cod. No wonder the pike like them. Pollan is another deadbait that is quite tough and will stay on the hook relatively well. They are a good naturally buoyant bait that will work well on any pike waters that have a bit of a flow to them.

The fish above are not the only deadbaits available on the market. These are just my personal favourites that I like to use. Lamprey, sand eels, and sprats are also all good sea baits that may be worth a look. Before using deadbaits on any new venue, be sure to check their club rules first.

Can I Freeze my Deadbait?

Yes, you most certainly can freeze your deadbaits. This is by far the best way of storing your deadbaits for pike fishing. Quite often you will find that your deadbait will stay on the hook better when casting if it is used whilst still frozen. I like to split a few different packs of baits before freezing and store them in mixed bags. This way I can take one bag of baits with me and have a good different selection to choose from.

Sometimes you just won’t know which bait they want on the day until you mix it up a bit. If you fancy something a bit different why not have a go at Mick Browns ‘Kebab rig’. This is an awesome little rig that may catch you fish when all else is failing.

My Top 5 Tips for Deadbaiting

  • Treble Hooks – If you are using a standard ‘snap tackle’ type rig the chances are it will be made up of two treble hooks. If this is the case I would suggest flattening off two of the barbs on each treble hook. This will leave one barbed hook for hooking the actual bait. By doing this, you will save your self no end of hassle when it comes to unhooking the pike.
  • The Strike – Like I mentioned earlier the strike whilst deadbaiting is vital. Pike will quite often engulf the bait straight down to their stomach if they are left too long. To combat this problem simply strike as soon as you get an indication that the pike has picked up your deadbait. You may miss the odd fish but surely that is better than a distressed fish.
  • Drop Off Indicators – If you are ledgering your deadbaits it is a very good idea to use drop off indicators. One end of these will be attached to your bank stick. The other end will probably be a small ball type bobbin in a bright colour. This will have a small clip on the end that gets clipped onto your line. Bring the bobbin end down to about 9 oclock. This can then indicate if the pike goes off with your bait by lifting up in the air. It will also indicate if the fish comes towards you by dropping down. Pike don’t like resistance on the line so be sure to set it up so it is sensitive and has no resistance.
  • Inject Some Flavours – To add some extra bite to your deadbaits you can always try injecting them. Most of the baits I have featured are naturaly oily. But If you add some extra flavour you can also add some extra colour. DO NOT just use any type of syringe as this can be extremely dangerous. Instead get yourself a deadbait injecting kit. This really can give you the upper hand when conditions are tough.
  • Use a Wire Trace – A wire trace is a must when using different deadbaits for pike fishing. In fact a wire trace should be used for ALL pike fishing. When using deadbaits I use a trace of 18 inches in length. After all it’s better to be safe than sorry. There are plenty of supple traces on the market nowadays that wont kink. A decent brand of 49 strands is advisable.

To Conclude Different Deadbaits for Pike

Using different deadbaits for pike fishing can be a really exciting way of catching these top predators. If you follow these guide lines hopefully you won’t find yourself in too many messy situations. If you are new to dead baiting I really can’t emphasize enough that you may want to go with someone experienced the first few times. This really is the best advice I can give. Enjoy your fishing and tight lines.

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