Step-by-step instructions in the making of an I I ft pike rod. It’s sensitive enough for the bites of nervous little jacks, and powerful enough for an encounter with a real specimen pike.
Think very carefully before building a pike rod. Consider especially the size of baits you will use, the size of pike you expect to contact, and the kinds of waters you will be concentrating on. Piking is now a very specialized form of fishing, where rods like broomsticks—more suited to sharking or snooker than an enjoyable fight with a pike—are things of the past.
manufacturers have produced an enormous choice in two-piece, split-jointed, hollow-glass blanks from which to construct a pike rod. These fall into three main categories: all-through action, medium-fast action and fast action. Each can be purchased in lengths from 10ft to 12ft. For small stillwaters or narrow rivers where long casting is unnecessary, a 10ft rod should be sufficient. Where marginal growth stretches well out into the water, an lift rod offers just that little bit more control over a big fish as it nears the net. In fact, lift is an excellent all-round length for piking, and overcomes most close-range and distance fishing problems. But when fishing baits at 60 yards or more, an ll12-12ft rod will be that much more useful for picking up line to set a hook fast.
No need for block and tackle
If most of your piking will be at fairly short range, using small live or deadbaits weighing between 1oz and 3oz, an all-through action blank with a test curve of around Valh provides real fun with your quarry. Do not be fooled into thinking that because pike have nasty teeth and an aggressive manner, that superstrong gear is needed to beat them.
What really dictates the power of rod is the size of your bait: your rod must be able to cast the bait fish and to pull the hooks out of it into the pike. So, if you require a rod capable of matching a wider bait range (1-8oz) opt for a medium-fast blank with a test curve of around 2lb. If you require still more power—for heavier baits or for really large fish in snaggy conditions—then step up the specifications accordingly. In these circumstances, many pike men prefer to use fasttaper blanks, which have an enormous amount of power and rigidity for casting, picking up line and setting the hook at a distance, and yet, because of the fine tip, give much pleasure from the en-suing fight. A fasttaper blank with a test curve of around 2V4lb is ideal for all long distance work, especially when using heavy deadbaits. And when wobbling deadbait close to the bottom, the rigidity of such a blank can be advantageous in allowing short, controlled movement of the bait. At the same time, the fine tip registers the tiniest of bites.
Fasttaper blanks, as with all-through and medium-action blanks, can be stepped up in power for large baits and heavy lines, or stepped down to a light VAJb test curve for all-round use. In fact, a lVfelb test curve fasttaper blank of lift is pro-bably the best choice for an all-round pike rod. It has a delicate tip, enabling even small pike to be felt, plus a reserve of power in the butt for sub-duing heavier pike and casting medium plugs and deadbaits.
Let the buyer beware
Before you leave the tackle shop, check the blank for any manufacturing flaws. With thin-walled blanks especially, make sure there are no tiny cracks or lighter patches when you hold the glass up to the”light. Check also that the wall thickness is consistent, particularly at the bottom of the top joint where the male spigot is inserted. Fix the two parts of the blank together firmly and, when tight, flex the blank to ensure that it does not ‘knock’. Any tackle dealer who values custom would certainly prefer you to locate any fault before leaving his shop. So do not be afraid to bend into a blank to find out what it is capable of.
A small but useful addition to all rod handles is a lin length of rigid, flat plastic directly opposite the reel spool. Line can be tucked under this while waiting for a run with the bale arm open. Apply glue to the underside of the plastic, and use the same colour whippings as for the rings.
Refurbishing cork handles
Replacing worn or chipped corks on cork handles is a simple job. First remove the damaged cork carefully. Do not splinter the glass blank underneath it. The new cork(s) must have an inside bore to suit your blank, but a larger outside diameter than the existing handle. Carefully slit through each cork with a razor blade, and gently prise open to slip it over a coating of glue on the blank. Use Sellotape to hold the cork tightly together until the glue sets and then file it down flush with the rest of the handle. Finish off with fine sandpaper, going over the entire handle to clean it up. This is the time to remove stains and small chips.