Pike fishing on hard water is a lot of fun and nothing beats that feeling you get when fighting a big northerner through the ice! But as always when it comes to pike fishing, an appropriate leader is absolutely essential.
So I thought I’d write a helpful guide on the best leader for ice fishing pike.
In order to be able to safely land your ice pike, you either need a strong fluorocarbon leader of about 50-60lb or a titanium wire leader of about 25-30lb. Both leaders have excellent abrasion resistance and will be able to handle the ice hole’s sharp edges, even under hard pressure.
Continue reading this article and find out everything there is to know about ice fishing leaders for pike.
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Why Do You Need a Leader for Ice Fishing Pike?
The northern pike is a predator and as such, it has plenty of sharp teeth in its mouth. These teeth are able to cut through any conventional fishing line with ease, which is why you will need a strong and thick leader material for pike fishing.
Most of its up to 700 teeth can be found on the pike mouth’s roof, where it has 2 pads of very small, needle-like teeth. These rows of teeth are responsible for most bite-offs when fishing for pike.
Especially when fishing with live or dead bait, it easily happens that the pike will grab and swallow the entire baitfish, and hence, the line above the hooks or trebles will be exposed to those razor-sharp teeth and a bite-off is all too often the unfortunate consequence.
Unless you have that leader in place to prevent that!
RELATED ARTICLE: Northern Pike Teeth (With Lots of Facts and Pictures)
Another crucial factor is the limited space you have to fight the fish in. Regardless if you are using tip-ups or jaw jackers and ice rods, you only have that small hole in the ice to work with, which means that your line and leader will have to do most of the job!
What Leader Material Should You Use for Pike Ice Fishing?
No matter the strength or diameter, monofilament or braided line will simply not withstand pike teeth, which is why you should never just use your mainline all the way down to your end tackle. Instead, a reliable leader must always be the link between your fishing line and hook!
The two most common and most effective leader materials for pike ice fishing are fluorocarbon and titanium.
Fluorocarbon line has become an ever more popular leader choice for pike fishing and has indeed a lot of hard to beat advantages:
- almost invisible underwater
- solid abrasion resistance
- super strong
Make sure to also read this article if you are unsure about your home state’s regulations on fishing with live bait: Is Fishing With Live Bait Illegal (A State-by-State Guide)
Especially when it comes to fishing under the ice, fluorocarbon is an exceptional leader choice, as its invisibility is at its best in dark water.
Fluorocarbon line is also rather flexible, which will result in a much more natural bait presentation if and when you are fishing with live bait.
I have had a lot of success with 50-60lb test fluorocarbon leaders, as this diameter still manages to have a low visibility, while at the same time being able to handle even the largest of ice pike.
Pro Tip: While fluorocarbon is very abrasion-resistant, it will eventually suffer from weak points, which is why it is absolutely essential to check your FC leader after each and every pike bite. If it is compromised, switch to a new leader. It’s not worth risking a bite-off next time that flag shoots up!
Titanium is a modern and very advanced leader material that more and more fishermen are starting to use. It has plenty of really awesome features:
- extremely flexible
- virtually kink-free
- high abrasion resistance
- very durable (and hence also economical)
This should be your go-to leader if the water you are fishing holds both pike and musky! While a thick enough fluorocarbon leader will withstand most pike attacks, it will be less resistant to those ultra-sharp musky teeth.
Using a titanium wire is definitely the best protection against bite-offs! And as the material is so smooth and flexible, the fish won’t actually mind this type of wire leader at all.
And as it is so abrasion-resistant and is so amazingly kink-free, you can keep fishing with one and the same leader for a very long time, which saves quite a lot of money as well.
If you ask me, a titanium wire, be it a ready-tied or a homemade one, of roughly 25-30lb test is a perfect fit for ice fishing pike.
Best Leaders for Ice Fishing Pike
Top Fluorocarbon Pick: Seaguar Blue Label
I take advantage of the saltwater guys’ end tackle whenever I can, because, boy, do they have awesome lines and leaders!
The Seaguar Blue Label Fluorocarbon Leader is a perfect example of that! It’s probably the most abrasion-resistant, invisible, and strongest FC material out there! I use it both for my hard- and open-water fishing.
Another really awesome advantage of this leader material is that it has higher specific gravity, which simply means that it will sink very fast underwater.
Especially when fishing with live bait, this is indeed highly preferable, as it will prevent the baitfish from constantly swimming up and down and thereby leaving your targeted fishing depth.
As pike can be rather inactive and slow-moving in cold water conditions, this is definitely something you want to avoid.
The Seaguar Blue Label is also very easily knotted to your swivels or treble hooks and has an amazing knot strength.
All in all, the perfect ice fishing leader for northern pike!
Runner Up: Yo-Zuri H.D. Fluorocarbon Leader
Yet another fluorocarbon leader, the Yo-Zuri is a very popular choice when it comes to extremely soft and sensitive ice fishing leaders for pike.
If you value sensitivity and don’t want the fish to feel the leader in its mouth, this is definitely the right leader for you!
Of course, this type of super soft material demands a skillful hand when fighting a fish through the ice, which is something to keep in mind when using this leader!
As is so often the case when it comes to fishing line and leaders, you will have to try to balance sensitivity and security very carefully.
This way, you will optimize your fishing and improve your ice angler skills immensely!
Top Wire Pick: American Fishing Wire Titanium Tooth Proof
My third choice is the AFW Titanium Leader. I wanted to include this one as it is a very suitable choice for venues with both pike and musky.
It is also a fact that many fishermen prefer wire over fluorocarbon leaders, which is why it is essential to include both alternatives such an article as this.
The American Fishing Wire Titanium Leader is indeed 100% tooth-proof and will never let you down, no matter how big or wild that predator down there might fight against you through the ice!
Pro Tip: Although it is possible to knot this wire leader, I advise you to use crimps instead, as titanium is not the easiest material to tie to a swivel or hook!
This leader is extremely flexible, pretty much kink-free, and ultra-abrasion-resistant. No sharp teeth or ice hole edges will be able to do this wire any harm!
This leader material is especially suited for making quick-strike rigs, which can be highly effective when fishing for ice pike.
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Featured image courtesy of Justin Bue