Top Tops for River Pike Lure Fishing

Table of Contents

River Pike Lure Fishing Tips to Catch Fish

River pike lure fishing is great sport, but there are several guidelines to follow to get success. Rivers are so varied and have a mind of their own, so are wide and slow were as others can be narrow and have faster moving water, not mentioning high water levels that make the water colour up.

I am going to unpick some scenarios to give you the best possibility of catching some awesome pike on rivers.

Best weather for River Pike lure Fishing

Best weather for pike in my experience is after a cold snap and the temperature rises a few degrees and there is dull grey skies, not rain cloud. For the lure angler this is the perfect day as long as the river is not rising after rain.

These perfect days are often achieved in October and November providing the water is still relatively clear. If weather conditions match up, a pike lure fishing session can be quite hectic if you are in the right place.

Best time of day for River Pike Lure Fishing

The best time of day for pike to be hunting is early in the morning and again late afternoon till nearly dark. However, this does not mean that pike just disappear. You still can catch pike in this quiet period by changing a simple tactic, reducing the size of the lure.

In a pikes “feeding time” it will devour a decent belly full and lay up to digest his food. Now if you can imagine eating a big Sunday roast till you are stuffed then was offered your favourite desert? More times than not you will eat it. So, offering a small lure bait to a pike is like that little desert it can manage that appears tasty.

River Pike Lure Fishing Set Up

River fishing lure set up for pike does not need to be too complicated.

Pike spinning Rod

Pike spinning rod of around 9ft is ideal, you can get one even if you have not got a lot of money to spend. I will put some links below to some lure rods that will suit all budgets that will suit this form of fishing perfectly.

Casting weights I like to use is a rod capable of 20g-80g as this give a good variety of size of lures you can use comfortably plus the strength to cope with a big fish.

To see more on how to choose the right lure rod click this link.

Below is a good set up to tackle pike on rivers that can cope with the heavier weights of large pike lures.

Spro CRX Lure&Spin H 2.70 m 40-100 g

Pike Spinning Rod Spro

The CRX series is designed for predatory fish fishing and includes everything that the angler heart desires, from ultra-light jig rods to powerful dead bait rods. The action of each rod is perfectly matched to the fishing style they are designed for. The 30T carbon blanks ensure good feedback, optimum bite detection and good bait control.

Pike Spinning Reel

Pike spinning reel can be a fixed spool front drag in the 400 series range is ideal. Again there are a lot of reels to choose from that are reasonably priced, but spending a bit more on the reel is a wise move. Reel must be reliable and perform to a high standard to help transmit action into the lure by using just varied retrieves. It is very noticeable to use a poor reel that clonks and judders to a good smooth action in a more expensive model.

I have put some reels that are a great choice for pike lure fishing on rivers below.

SHIMANO Sedona 4000FI Spinning Reel

SHIMANO Sedona 4000FI Spinning Reel

SHIMANO Sedona 4000FI Spinning Reel The beautifully designed Sedona FI is the lowest priced spinning reel of Shimano that features Shimano’s HAGANE Gearing.

Because of the unrivalled HAGANE Gear the angler can be confident that the reel will show tremendous durability over the years, even under extremely heavy use.


Line on the reel should be extraordinarily strong but low in diameter enabling longer casts with more accuracy.

The fishing line must be braid, with its low diameter and super strength it is perfect to work all lure types including jerkbaits.

The high strength of the braid can be capable of bending the hooks on a lure backward to release snag ups and preventing the loss of your lure.

Braid should be about 30lb break strain and I have put a link to my favourite brand that is a delight to use.

Wire Traces

Wire traces must be used on the end of the braid to prevent pike from cutting through the line with their razor-sharp teeth.

Traces need to be at least 15” in length and have a breaking strain at least the strength of the braid you use. So, a 30lb test wire is fine.

One end of the trace must have a swivel size 7 with a break strain of around 60lb and a conector link on the other end to attach a lure of the same breaking strain.

For the protection of pike, nylon coated wire is the best choice, the nylon stop the pike injuring itself when it rolls over the wire in the battle to the landing net.

Alternatively making your own wire traces is a simple process and saves a lot of money in the long term plus, the same set of tools and material you can make your own stinger rigs for soft plastic lures.

The best thing about making your own is that they are much better than the ones you buy and the correct length unlike most premade versions.

Here is a video that shows you how to produce your own traces and how easy it is.

Making your Own Wire Traces

Making your own wire traces is easy with a few tools. Make them the correct length with lure attaching clips you can put a personal preference to the finished product. see the tutorial video below to get you started.

River Pike Lure Fishing in Flooded Rivers

Lure fishing in flooded rivers for pike is a challenge but, knowing where to locate the fish is the first step to success.

Seeing the main river moving through at an increased rate of knots with a brown dirty look to the water can be a very off-putting scenario.

Lure fishing into the main river in these conditions is a waste of time and blanking is the most likely outcome.

Now, if we approach the flooded river in a different mind set and think where bait fish are most likely to hold up out of the way of the main river that is a chore to swim against the flow is the likely places that pike will be present.

Looking close to the bank for features like slow back eddy’s or the side of a big snag like a fallen tree that diverts the river flow away from a slow moving body of water is a great place to seek out.

Other hot spots are a tributary into the main river like a brook. The brook mouth should be hardly flowing as the main river holds back the water. These places can produce a lot of predators looking for food.

Dead arms leading to locks above and below the adjacent wier are also super places to target that hold lots of bait fish keeping away from the surging currents of the main river.

Beware, riverbanks can be treacherous in flooded conditions and extremely slippy. It is advisable to take a friend and a length of rope to safely access some spots on the river.

Tying rope around your waist and the other end around a tree can save you from disaster.

lure fishing in flooded rivers for pike
Pike took a coloured ribbon tail lure in a swollen river.

River Pike Lure Fishing Explained

The best pike lures for rivers can differ dramatically according to the swims you intend to fish. For example, if you have a deep hole in the swim a shallow lure is not going to reach the strike zone of lurking pike.

Fishing a shallow weedy swim with a fast sinking lure is going to get snagged up every cast and resulting in losing your lure.

Taking an assortment of lures is key that can cover different situations you may face lure fishing for pike on the river.

Time of year also plays a big part in the lure selection. Warm Autumn days the fish may be caught in midwater plus the weeds are still around. Pike lure fishing above weedy areas can produce some great sport if you have brought adequate lures to fish it properly.

Cold Winter days pike are not so active and hug close to the bottom. Lures in cold weather need to have a good action under a slow retrieve to produce the best results.

Coloured high water that is common in rivers needs slightly different tactic. Remember the water is cloudy and visibility is poor. Pike will use there other well-tuned senses to find its prey like noise and vibrations.

These take priority in lure choice using lures with a loud rattle and large paddle tails or ribbon tails for maximum commotion.

Finally is the sunny cold day when the water is gin clear. For the course angler these conditions are a nightmare. But, for the piker using lures this can be a great opportunity to catch fish.

Pike need only rely on there sight to find food and in gin clear water they can see a lure from a good distance away.

Best River Pike Lures For Coldwater

A selection of lures for Coldwater conditions on rivers for pike. the lures can be fishing near the bottom of the river on a slow retrieve but still produce exaggerated swimming action to promote an attack.

X Rap Peto Lures 20cm

Rapala Slow Sink Lures With Rubber Tail

ABS body with flexible PVC tail.
6-point fixing system made of stainless steel.
Rolling and tail swinging movement.
Pike, large zander, catfish

Savage Gear 20cm 4D Real EEL

Eel Lures For Pike Savage Gear 4D Real EEL

The success bait floats with an extremely tempting, very lively sickle black action 

Size weight: 20 cm, 38 g, 30 cm, 80 g.

X-Rap Otus Slow Sinking Curlytail Lures 25cm

Rapala X-Rap Otus Slow Sinking Curlytail Lures 25cm

With its slow sink rate and wide wafting tail, X-Rap Otus is the ideal choice for cold water & challenging conditions.

The body rolls side-to-side as the enormous curl tail pulses behind when retrieved.

Savage Gear 3D River Roach Soft Lures

Savage Gear 3D River Roach Soft Lures 22cm.The lure will swim and kick even at slow speed, with a perfect nervous flanking action – irresistible for big pike! The lure has a Gat pellet slot and a tail rattle slot! 

Use with stinger rigs.

Best River Pike Lures Fishing in Flood Water

River Pike Lure Fishing in high river levels were the water is a dirty muddy colour decreases the chances of success to catch a pike.

Explained earlier looking for feeder streams that water is held back by the swolen main river can be hot spots in these conditions.

Close the the river bank that a backwater is visible on the surface of the water is good holding places for baitfish were the pike will be close by.

Lure choice is essential, load rattles and increased vibrations make the lure stand out to a pike as the fishes other highly adapted senses come into play.

3D Burbot Line Thru Hybrid Sinking Lure 25cm

3D Burbot Line Thru Hybrid Sinking Lure 25cm Savage Gear

The Burbot hybrid line thru design lets the hooks dislodge from the bait while fighting fish so the bait takes less damage and you land more fish.We also added a glass rattle moulded in the ribbon tail to call fish in from greater distances.

Strike Pro Wolf Tail Lures Jerkbaits

Strike Pro Wolf Tail Lures Jerkbaits

Crank the lure in slowly or fast, it doesn’t matter – the fish can not resist this deadly action! Patented screw link for easy change of chewed plastic tails. Excellent for pike fishing all year around.

Natural Pike Bait 3D Line Thru Pike 20cm

Natural Pike Bait 3D Line Thru Pike Savage gear 

The innovative Line Thru system from Savage Gear allows you to put the hooks either on the back or on the belly, depending on how you want to fish the lure.

Headbanger Shad 22cm Suspending

Headbanger Shad Lure Suspending 22cm

Combining the erratic and evasive Headbanger movement with the fish-like characteristics of the fixed exchangeable paddle tail, the Headbanger Shad is a predator teaser with an action that no other lure can offer.

Using soft plastic baits for pike river lure fishing in coloured water offers an option to increase the noticeability to a pike. By adding spinner blades that merely screw into the lure. 

gunki blades for soft plastic lures
Gunki Blades for Soft Plastic Lures

The addition vibration can be the difference between success and failure

River Pike Lure Fishing in Clear Water

Best pike lures in clear water depend on whether it is dull or sunny weather conditions.

Dull conditions dark and black lures as well as natural painted lures work the advantage as natural baitfish underwater look dark and black intensified by the lack of bright light.

Bright and sunny weather illuminates colours dramatically. Orange fins stripes and shinny flashes from the scaled flanks of baitfish turns pike onto there prey.

Imitating the natural look underwater to a predatory fish is more bright coloured lures. Even lures that appear to be quite unnatural out of water can look very appealing to a pike.

Best River Pike Lures in Clear Water

Best choices of pike lures for dull weather conditions on the river bank.

Pike Lures For Dull conditions

Rapala Super Shad Rap Crankbait 140 mm

Rapala Super Shad Rap Crankbait 140 mm (45 gr), Size 45 gr Natural fish

Super Shad Rap Crankbait Floating lure has been a big favourite for years with Pike lure anglers.

This floating crankbait can be cranked down to around 5.5-6 ft depth from shore and trolled can go even deeper.

Strike Pro X-Buster 17cm Swimbait


Swimbait Fishing Lures Strikepro X Buster is a new swimbait/glide bait. A jointed swimbait witYou can crank, rip, twitch, pull, troll, or jerk… just remember to pause in any combination – an extremely versatile predator catching machine.h an outstanding action. 

Perch Swimbait 4D Line Thru Savage Gear

A realistic perch swim bait that pike just love to grab hold of. Imitating one of the most target bait fish in all details can only end up one way A BIG BITE!

Savage Gear 4D Line Thru pike lures Perch Swim Baits/Lures – Pike Zander Musky Fishing

Pike lures For Bright Conditions

Daiwa Prorex Duck Fin Swimbait 21cm 115g

Daiwa - Soft Swimbait Lure 21cm 115g Prorex L.Tr. Sb Ss 210 Duck Fin Ft - 1543142

Here is a swimbait with striking realism and perfect finishes. Very easy to recognize thanks to the duck leg profile of its tail, this swaying swimming trout is armed for the search for giant pike in large bodies of water.

Its slow descent is perfect for prospecting in shallow areas and above seagrass beds.

Abu Garcia Singo Spoon Lure 55g- 165mm

Abu Garcia Singo Spoon Lure 55g-165

Brass Spoon fishing Lures are one of the oldest lures used to catch predatory fish with large specimens being caught for many years. Today the spoon lure is just as effective often out fishing other lures.

Retrieving a spoon lure makes the rod tip bounce as the spoon pike lure wobbles erratically giving of bright flashes like an escaping fish.

Daiwa Prorex hybrid Swimbait 25cm

Daiwa Prorex Pike Lure Hybrid Swimbait Ghost Ayu

This lure delivers an outstanding action, which resembles the swimming movements of a real fish ?

The lure imitates an injured prey fish due to its slight lateral flanking movements during constant retrieving.

River Pike Lure Fishing Safety Tips

lure fishing for pike on river systems is good sport but care must be taken for the angler and the fish.

River banks can be treacherous and extremely slippy after a downfall of rain. If you are trying new places that are not familiar take a length of rope to tie around your waist and anchore thhe other end to a tree or bush to prevent falling in a cold river.

  • Your kit should include a landing net capable of netting a large fish.
  • Unhooking mat
  • A pair of long nosed pliers of a length of 11″ at least for unhooking the pike.
  • Hook cutting tool like bolt croppers small made for pike anglers.
  • Always use wire traces preferably nylon coated to protect wire cutting into the fish as it fights on the end of the line.
  • Some anglers remove the bards on hooks on there lures for easy unhooking.
  • Do not keep the fish out of water for a long time. Instead once unhooked, weighed and photographed return immediately.

Increasing Your Chances to Catch

Catching a pike on every outing is not guaranteed but to increase your chances there are things to try.

You can see some excellent lures above that produce pike in diffent circumstances on a river. but days when all else fails it is time to try diferent methods of retrieve.

Slow retrieves with sudden jerks, twitching using small aggresive turn of the reel handle can produce fish.

Trying out different depths to work the lure to find the kill zone.

Slow sinking lures can be worked by lift the rod and pausing allowing the lure to flutter towards the bottom can be devasting in very cold weather.

Try these lures and work through the many ways to alternate how they act with these different methods, but above all keep the lure in the water as much as possible.

Tight lines!

check out our article Best ways to fish lures for pike for more info