Colouring deadbaits

On hard-fished waters where the resident pike are frequently caught, you can often improve your results by adopting an experimental approach and having a crack with something different. Even when you’ve exhausted the whole, enormous range of different deadbaits, and tinkered with various presentations, if the pike are still wary, there’s one last option open to you — a deadbait dyed a different colour.

When pike are caught regularly they become suspicious of normal, run-of-the-mill deadbaits and to present them with a bright orange herring or a royal blue mackerel might just be enough to lull the pike into a false sense of security.

There’s no doubt that brightly coloured deadbaits catch pike. But is it the colour that attracts them? Or is it just the bait in spite of the colour?

Whether or not pike can perceive colour is debatable. Nevertheless the reflective and iridescent qualities of brightly coloured deadbaits seems to register with pike. Choice of colour is not as important as dazzling brightness when it comes to pike attraction. Oranges, yellows and light blues can be particularly effective.

Any change from the norm might turn a potential blank day into a pikeful one. At any rate you won’t lose out by using lurid deadbaits. Pike are not frightened or put off by bright baits so you can fish them with confidence.

Steep operation

The excellent range of concentrated powder dyes regularly used by carp anglers is also suited to colouring deadbaits.

The easiest way to dye fish is to mix the colouring with water in a bucket and place the baits in the brew to soak for a couple of hours. If, after this time you’re not entirely happy with the potency of the colour, soak them for longer or increase the strength of the liquor.

When the baits are ready, put on some rubber gloves and remove them from the bucket. Lay the fish on newspaper and leave them to dry. When they’re ready, put them in small batches into plastic bags for freezing or immediate use.

Sea fish baits such as mackerel, big sprats, small herrings and smelts are suitable subjects for colouring. Not only are they proven pike-catchers in their natural state but they accept and retain colour better than species such as roach and rudd. These freshwater species will take a dye but the colour doesn’t last long unless you descale the fish first.

If you don’t fancy getting involved in the messy colouring process yourself, but would like to try jazzed-up deadbaits, you can buy ready-dyed baits from the tackle shop.

If you want to give dyed deadbaits a go, make sure the pike can see them. This means fishing brightly coloured baits in clear rather then murky water.

You can also increase the chances of your multi-coloured morsels being spotted by retrieving them slowly, or fishing them off the bottom. A deadbait fished underdepth with a float, or popped-up, is much more visible than if it’s lying on the bottom.