Autumn is one of the best times of the year to catch big northern pike on fly and light tackle. During the mid-summer heat, pike hunker down in deep pockets of cool water, making them tough to find and target. However, when the leaves change and the temperatures start falling, northern pike - even the big boys - head to the shallows to begin a ravenous feeding stretch before winter. It's during this sweet spot, when the temperatures are falling but before the weed beds have died off, when anglers have the best opportunity to land a big gator.
Look for the greens
As temperatures fall, weeds begin to turn brown and deteriorate. However, not all vegetation dies at the same time, even in the same body of water. Look for weed beds that are still alive, as pike use the green cover as camouflage. Run a spinner or crankbait slowly along the edge of the bed for your best chance to lure out a big pike.
Pike are notorious for eating just about everything, yet they can also be surprisingly flighty. If you've fished for northerns before, you've probably had your fair share of fish follow your lure or fly up to the boat, yet refuse to eat. Pike have been known to follow prey for great distances before eating, so long casts are important, even in the fall when they're looking to pack on the pounds. Cast out as far as you can and bring your lure or fly back with a slow, twitchy retrieve.
Red and white trigger strikes
When it comes to pike fishing, there's just something about red and white. Whether you're fly fishing or throwing a spinnerbait, a red and white combination should always be one of your first things you tie on. If that doesn't work, try something with yellow and/or black.
Your drag is everything
Few freshwater fish combine the strength and speed of northern pike. A strong and smooth drag is one of the most important pieces of your setup. It'll not only help you land more fish, but it will help ensure a quicker landing and release for the fish.
For spin anglers, the Cheeky FLOTR 3500 is the ultimate spinning reel for northerns. A true performance spinning reel, the FLOTR packs power into a lightweight design that’ll give you the advantage over the meanest pike below. Learn more about the FLOTR 3500 Spinning Reel.
For fly anglers, look no further than the Cheeky Boost 400. Named Outside Magazine's "2015 Reel of the Year", the Boost 400 is built for freshwater lunkers. Packing away well in excess of 200 yards of backing and retrieving up to 12.5” of line per revolution, the Boost 400 will help you get a pike into the net faster. Learn more about the Boost 400 Fly Reel.