Northern Pike Retrieval Patterns

There is plenty of material out there on catching Northern Pike.  Much of it advocates an erratic retrieve to attract the attention of fish in the area.  I won’t disagree with the experts.  An erratic retrieve certainly draws fish in, but also leads to a poor hookup percentage especially when fishing topwater lures.

Watching a 40+” Northern boil, swirl, or hurdle your lure is pretty exciting.  An erratic retrieve may have drawn that fish to your lure, but also caused it to miss its target.  Many guests comment on the poor aim of these fish.  One thing to remember is that the eyes of a Northern Pike are essentially on the top of its head, especially on bigger fish.  So when they open those giant jaws to strike at your lure, their vision is temporarily gone since it is blocked by their massive open mouth.  The fish is aiming at the last place they saw the lure and an erratic retrieve will put your bait out of position for a direct hit.

Try a steady retrieve and watch the number of misses drop.  Don’t focus so much on either a fast or slow retrieve as that can depend on a number of factors including weather, lake conditions, lure type.  Just concentrate on a steady pattern even if it involves some tricks such as a pause.  You will improve your hookup success if you can find a rhythm that produces strikes.  Crank-pause-crank or a similar rhythm replicated over and over will likely yield more fish than seeing how fast you can crank your reel or popping your rod so erratically that your fishing partner thinks you’ve gone spastic.  Give it a try this summer and see what you think!


  1. This is encouraging, Travis!! I threw my back out a few times trying to catch those little buggers, looking quite spastic, I might add. Thanks for the good tip!

  2. Hopefully it will help George. For years I tried rapidly changing reeling speeds and whipping my rod around so hard I nearly hit my fishing partners in the face. I got lots of action, but missed hooking plenty of fish!

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