Speedtrolling for pike
This is Sean Wit’ most effective tips on how to lure BIG pike with almost forgotten techniques. Read about, why he is still using speedtrolling to give him that advantage when targeting big Crocs.
Pike fishing is like all forms of fishing, subject to all kinds of trends. Most popular and effective ways of fishing for big pike is casting with softbaits and trolling with realistic swimbaits. Due to all these trends, certain techniques are forgotten or hardly being practiced. But that doesn’t mean they are not effective anymore! On the contrary, they can be deadly as hell!
One of these techniques is speedtrolling. Simply put, trolling with much higher speeds than one would normally do. In this article I’ll get into the idea behind this technique, the dos and don’ts, and give you some insights on what kind of gear is best to use for this technique.
Speedtrolling - Why?
Most of all, speedtrolling is based on the idea that doing things differently than other anglers on a specific lake or water system, will give you the edge over them. Pike will often get hammered on certain lakes with the same technique, every single day. Of course, with some variations in techniques during the seasons. But the most standard way of trolling is realistic swimbaits, like the Savage Gear 4D Line Thru Trouts, 3D Roaches and other softlures, such as the 3D Burbot or 4D Real Eels at an average speed between 2.5 and 3.5km/h. Pike learn, especially the bigger ones because they have a ton of experience to rely on and are not fooled that easily.
With speedtrolling, you basically break that average presentation by doing something that is completely different. But before we get into further details about why speedtrolling can be so effective in certain situations, let us get a clear idea of what my definition of speedtrolling is. What I call speedtrolling, is not trolling at 4 or 5km/h. For me that is a medium speed at which I sometimes present my swimbaits during the summer, when pike are spread out across the lake but actively feeding. In that situation, I want to cover a lot of water and thus the higher speed makes my fishing more effective.
I generally consider trolling at 6 to 9km/h for pike to be speedtrolling. Some might find this hard to believe and it sure feels strange when you do this for the first time. It sure asks something of your gear and it is effective when the conditions are right, but I’ll get into that later.
Why such speeds? For several reasons; first of all, it is effective because you cover up to 3 times as much water than ‘slow’ trolling with swimbaits. Second, on lakes and water systems with high fishing pressure, you are doing something completely different. Third and foremost, you do not give those big and experienced pike time to think. Take it or leave it, they must decide in a split second. At such speeds, you try to fish as close as possible to the fish, betting on their instincts and fast reaction speed to slam that lure before it is gone.
Speeding is allowed. This pike could not resist the speeding lure.
No time to think. Speeding up, leaves the pike with less time to think.
Effective in specific situations
Like I mentioned before, speedtrolling is effective when the conditions are right in certain situations. As always when fishing, reading the water and the conditions and finding the appropriate technique is key. Speedtrolling is just another tool that can be used to do the job, but it must match the situation. Nobody needs a fork when eating a bowl of soup.
We use speedtrolling in a variety of situations and I’ll give a couple of past examples of when it has been effective for us. Keep in mind that this technique isn’t fixed to a certain temperature. It can be done with high water temperatures but also at very low, close to freezing temperatures.
In Holland we have got hundreds of small canals, rivers and streams. Some are deep but most of them are less than 3 meters deep. On these systems there are not many hotspots, pike are usually scattered. Especially when they are inactive, it can be super effective to speed things up, cover a lot of water and find those few active fish or gamble on the instincts and natural reflexes of the passive fish.
In the winter, pike gather up in specific locations, for example, big harbours in which all the baitfish seek shelter for the harsh and colder months of the year. Even though fishing with deadbait is very popular to do in such places, we have had days where we out fished deadbait anglers just by trolling at high speeds with big crankbaits.
Too cold? Nope! In some cases, we were trolling between big sheets of ice and still caught. But what about Scandinavia? Scandinavia has less canals and streams like we got in Holland. Migration of pike is a bit different there as well, but the same logic applies. We have had good results speedtrolling on deeper pockets close to spawning areas when the water in the bays was to cold, but the fish were waiting for the right conditions. When fish are packed together but inactive, speedtrolling can be a deadly technique to get them to bite when nothing else works!
Heavy gear. The forces when speedtrolling are immense, so reliable gear is a must.
High demand on gear
But, as always, there is a downside. Your gear should be in top condition no matter what the technique is. We do not want to lose our lures and give those big monster pike a more permanent souvenir. Speedtrolling puts a ton of extra strain on your equipment and you should really check your gear before trying this technique.
First of all, heavy duty braid! 65lbs test is the minimum we use, the heavier the better. Since most of the lures used in this technique are crankbaits, your rods will take a beating. You need some stiffer rods than one would normally use. I am a big fan of the Savage Gear Custom Predator series and use the heaviest version, 240gr casting weight at a length of 258cm. One big benefit of these rods is that they are also very effective when trolling and casting big softbaits. A super versatile rod will save you a ton of money not constantly having to buy different gear for different techniques.
A couple of other important things to consider; terminal tackle! Use heavy duty splitrings and trebles that will not bend easily. We have learned from past mistakes and lost multiple good fish due to trebles being bent like a paperclip due to the extreme forces that come into play. When you hook a 10kg+ fish while trolling at 9km/h, you will notice how much force is behind this technique. Due to those forces, do not set the drag too tight. You want the rod to take the first hook setup, but the drag can be a loosened up a little compared to trolling with big rubber baits. Better for the pike and less likely to lose a fish before you get the rod out of the rod holder. Speaking of rod holders, get quality holders.
Lures that are effective
Crankbaits, crankbaits, crankbaits! 90% of the swimbaits will not work and you want to fish close to where the fish are. When they are inactive, they are close to the bottom and with swimbaits, the faster you go the higher they run. Crankbaits work the other way around.
The 4D Herring from Savage gear is deadly, big profile, rolling action and you can add a rattle to the tail. The 3D Minnow Diver or 3D Iron Mask Deep Diver is smaller but also effective. Sometimes softbaits can be effective as well when used with heavy jigheads. Even though they are used for halibut and cod, the biggest model of the Savage Gear Cutbait Herring can be trolled at higher speeds and great depths.
Big baits. Small fish also get caught on big baits, imagine how big you can go with them!
Cover more water. Use paravans to drag the lure to the side, this way you will cover more water.
In the end
Most of all, use what feels appropriate for the situation at hand. Pike fishing is adaptive fishing, whoever adapts the fastest to changing situations will be the most successful. And in pike fishing, situations change a lot during the seasons, the weeks and even on a single day itself.
Tight lines and good luck out there! If you are interested in more techniques like these or my service as a fishing guide, checkout my Instagram profile @seanwitnl
High speed. When trolling faster, you can also cover water faster, which means upping the chances.
Adaptive fishing. There are no rules when it comes to fishing, so when speedtrolling is not working, then try casting, slowing down, going deeper – Whatever it takes.
Imitate. Nothing beats the real deal, but this comes close!
A lure in the water is better than one in the hand.