Best Lures for Fall Northern Pike Fishing—Upsized, but not Oversized

In the August issue of MidWest Outdoors magazine, we examined late-summer/early-fall locational patterns and recommended using oversized or muskie-sized lures for triggering strikes from trophy pike potentially exceeding 20 pounds. Given the available forage, large pike show a preference for feeding on baitfish about 1/3 their length. Thus, a 20-pound, 42-inch pike might find a 14-inch lure more appealing than a 3-inch crankbait.  Most of us don’t own or couldn’t cast a 14-inch lure, which is why we basically recommended using muskie lures when big pike are on a fall rampage.

If those are a bit hefty for you to toss, given limitations in equipment or casting abilities, don’t dismay. The next best bet is to upsize your offerings as much as feasible, into a category perhaps considered to be large multi-species lures.

For example, one of my favorite multi-species lures is a Rapala X-Rap 14. It’s a saltwater lure, but doubles nicely as a freshwater trophy catcher––including bass and walleyes. Twitch and pause, retrieve it with a series of fast jerks––just experiment to see what works best.

Next up, if you don’t have muskie tandems, upsize to at least ½-ounce, or preferably ¾- or 1-ounce, tandem bass spinnerbaits, such as the 1-oz. Northland Reed Runner Magnum. They lack the bulky profile of a muskie tandem, but are decent options for larger pike.

Or try a softbait like the Storm Wildeye Swim Shad 05 or 06, which at 5 and 6 inches, have just enough profile to tempt a big pike into biting. You could go to the larger 9-inch version, but that’s heavy enough to require muskie tackle to toss it. Everything else mentioned here can be thrown on a flippin’ stick or heavy casting rod.

And finally, don’t forget the all-time pike slayer—a 4-inch wobbling spoon like a 3 5/8-inch Dardevle or 4-inch Thompson. This kind of goes against the idea of using a larger Dardevle Huskie Jr. or Huskie to trigger a big fish. But in my experience, these lures have such wide wobbles that they work better for lake trout than pike. (Ok, the Jr., maybe, for pike.) You may disagree.

Whichever you choose, use a wire or fluorocarbon leader to deflect sharp teeth from snipping your line. I find that I’ve gone more with fluoro in recent years, taking advantage of its invisibility to help catch bass and walleyes. Pike probably don’t care much which leaders you throw.