In the UK we have a species of fish called pike (Esox Lucius), pike are present across the length and breadth of the UK, are native but are not necessarily in every body of water. Pike are a predatory species, they eat fish, invertebrates and generally will have a snap at anything that looks edible (occasionally my lures) regardless of whether I'm targeting them or not, their mouthes hold up to 700 sharp teeth that have evolved to snare, retain and cut their prey.
Pike do not discriminate, they are infinitely stupid, you could be fishing the most inane lure for perch, with the least action possible and pike will come along and snaffle it.
We've all heard stories of pike taking boilies, maggots and other baits much the same as we will have heard of big pike taking lures fished very deliberately for perch.
This blog is about using a wire leader when freshwater fishing, more specifically the thought process i use when choosing whether to fish a wire leader or not, it's not a blog teaching people to suck eggs, cause a debate or to cause anyone offence. The wire v's flurocarbon topic continues to cause a fallout whenever/ wherever it has come up online and as I'm not out fishing at the moment during lockdown i thought i'd put my thoughts out there.
Traffic light system
As anglers we have a choice unless the waters rules dictate otherwise whether we choose to use wire as a leader or not, we all know (even the pro's who tell me otherwise) deep down that flurocarbon can and will be bitten through by pike it is down to our own personal integrity wether we choose to use wire or flurocarbon at times where rules allow us to make our own decision. We have a duty of care as anglers to the fish and to future generations of anglers so it is in our interests not to sacrifice to tomorrow because
My thought process around whether to use wire or flurocarbon as a leader is based on a handful of variables. The type of lure that i am using, the method i am fishing, the water and if there are pike known to be present.
I break this down simply.
If the water i am fishing contains pike but I'm targeting perch, i make a decision on the type of lure I'm using and how I'm fishing it.
If i am fishing for zander on a canal it will generally be a muddy canal where zander are more prevalent than pike, I will mostly be fishing lures with single hooks (not exclusively) and will be fishing slow and methodical methods, in this instance i will use flurocarbon.
If there are no pike present i will use flurocarbon. If i am fishing for pike, i will always use wire.
I am most interested in addressing in this blog my approach if i am fishing for perch, but pike are present.
I split this into three categories.
Red - Use wire
If i am fishing a lure with a treble or double hook or if i am using a jigfly and pike are present there is a high possibility i will encounter a pike whilst fishing. The risk of stitching a pike up with a treble hook leading to feeding and other problems is high therefor i will always use a wire leader.
If i'm using something with a spinner blade such as a spinner bait or a lure that you'll be using a constant retrieve i will reach for the wire, it doesn't need no finesse and it's sure as hell going to attract a pike.
Amber - wire or FC
We're in the danger zone here, if I'm using a shad/ swimbait I am going to be working it in a way that it's going to get bit by a pike wether that is on the drop or throughout the retrieve. I vary the retrieve with this type of lure from a straight retrieve, two turn drop, and other more erratic styles.
I will more often than not use flurocarbon with this type of lure up until i get to 3" in length or if i use above a 3/0 hook, once you start fishing above 3".
When i am fishing paddle tails in the 1-2" bracket generally I'm using finesse/ UL/ LRF techniques with a 6lb line and much prefer flurocarbon for presentation.
Once we move up to 3"+ paddle tails finesse starts to become irrelevant, i will still fish 10-12lb braid but will now up my leader material to a 12lb Titanium home made trace with a small clip/ swivel.
My experience tells me that you will get bite offs using this style of lure, I've had pike bite me off on the drop without me having chance to strike and when only applying minimal pressure on the leader/ lure, I lost specimen fish at the side of the boat on 12lb FC using this type of lure, it happens, it will happen but I'm sure that it's most likely happened to you already!
Green - FC with caution
If i am fishing a single hook bottom bait IE a TRD/ ned/ creature i will happily use FC, you will encounter the odd pike but the risk is relatively low.
If i am drop shot fishing i will always use FC, I have seen people use all manner of weird presentations to pike proof the drop shot rig when in reality if you are fishing it in a slow, methodical way you aren't going to see many pike.
As mentioned above, if i am using small jigheads and SP's such as the two at the bottom in the picture below i will use FC as the presentation is much better.
But what if the fish can see the wire? You know, as much as we'd like to think it pike, perch and chub really aren't that fussy, if I'm in the least bit concerned I'll switch to a single hook as per the above and proceed with caution. I wouldn't dream of using wire for zander vertically for example as I feel it takes away more than it adds but that's just from personal experiments fishing wire against FC on the same day, with the same lure etc. I suspect that there are going to be people who disagree with this post, I've a friend who was a professional guide for some years and he swears by FC for pike and hasn't had a bite off but for every one of him there are 10 others that i have met that have been bitten off, read into that what you will.
We as anglers in the UK should always default to abide by the rules set by those who grant the fishing rights but lure fishing rules are generally outdated, if i were to choose to break the status quo then I always follow the thought process above.
We are guardians, looking after the fish and the wider ecosystem for future generations, for me it is about having integrity. Yes wire is more expensive than FC, yes, it can slightly alter the action of hard lures and there may always be a visibility issue but for me we owe it to the fish and the future generations to make the right decisions today.