Fishing dead bait on the bottom is a brilliant way to catch pike, zander, catfish, and other predators. Your dead bait can become even more deadly if you present it popped-up from the bottom in order for it to become more visible. In order to do so, you should use dead bait pop-up sticks when ledgering for pike and co.
In order to make your own dead bait pop-up stick, all you need is a 60-80mm long balsa stick, a float stop, a piece of braided line, and some steel wire. Additionally, you will also need a razor blade and sandpaper to cut, sharpen, and smoothen your pop-up stick, as well as some varnish in order to waterproof it.
This DIY tackle guide will show you exactly how to make dead bait pop-up sticks for next pike fishing adventure.
Needed Materials to Make Dead Bait Pop-Up Sticks
- Balsa Wood Sticks (Find them on Amazon here)
- Float Stops (Get super-strong stops on Amazon)
- A piece of braided line
- Some steel or copper wire
- A razor blade
- A thicker sewing needle
- Loctite super glue (Buy it on Amazon here)
- Crystal clear Varnish (Find it on Amazon here)
How to Make Your Own Dead Bait Pop-Up Sticks
Now let’s move on to the actual making of your own dead bait pop-up sticks. The process is simplicity itself and will take you less than 10 minutes.
Try to make a whole bunch of these pop-up sticks when you have a little time over in the evening or during the weekend. This way, you will always have a few spare sticks with you on the bank.
Step 1) Cut and shape the balsa stick
You will first have to cut your balsa stick to the right length. Vary the length of the sticks a little if you like; 50-60mm for smaller baitfish, 60-80mm for larger baits. This way, you can always be sure that your dead bait will actually pop-up!
After that, simply shape one end of the balsa stick to a rounded point using a razor blade and smoothen the point with the sandpaper. This shape will make it easier for the stick to penetrate into the baitfish.
Step 2) Form and attach the wire loop
For this step, you will need a piece of wire and a sewing needle. First, cut off a small piece of wire, fold it around a thicker sewing needle (or a small steel stick) creating a small loop, and turn it a couple of times so that the wire ends get twisted together.
Now, stick the sewing needle into the flat end of the balsa stick making a little hole. Put a few drops of loctite super glue into the hole and immediately stick the wire loop into it, wire ends first.
Your basic dead bait pop-up stick is now ready and should look something like this:
Step 3) Attach the braided line
Now, take a piece of braided line and run it half-way through the stick’s wire loop. Once again, the length of the line will depend on the size of your baitfish.
Next, take the two tag ends and close up the loop by making a simple double surgeon’s knot.
Step 4) Put on a float stop
In order to be able to attach and lock your pop-up stick onto your rig’s treble hook, you will need to put a float stop on the braided line.
I strongly recommend using Guru’s ultra-strong line stops, as they ensure that your pop-up stick will remain attached to the hook and won’t end up in your target fish’s stomach.
Your dead bait pop-up stick is now almost finished and looks something like this:
Step 5) Coat the balsa stick with varnish
In order for your balsa stick not to crack and break, you will have to make it waterproof.
This is best done by coating it with 2-3 layers of varnish.
You can either apply the varnish with a small paintbrush or you simply dip the entire stick into the varnish.
Let it sit and dry for a couple of minutes and then repeat the process.
Step 6) Attach your dead bait pop-up stick to the treble hook
Congratulations, you have now fishing making your first very own dead bait pop-up stick! Great job!
Now, all that remains is to actually attach your stick to your trace and treble hook.
In order to do so, simply put the line loop of your stick around one of your hooks and tighten the loop by pulling the float stop close to the hook.
When fishing, you can now attach your treble hooks to your baitfish and stick the balsa stick into it. This will cause your dead bait to pop-up and hover attractively just off the bottom.
When to Fish With Dead Bait Pop-Up Sticks?
There is a variety of circumstances in wich using a popped-up dead bait can be very advantageous and hence lead to more bites and fish in the net.
These can include the following:
- fishing over debris
- fishing over silt
- fishing over weed
- fishing in poor light conditions or at night
- fishing in venues that hold crayfish
- fishing in winter
I have found that popped-up dead baits are especially effective when night fishing for pike, as pike are predators that rely more on their eyesight and hence can have a harder time spotting your bait when it’s pitch black underwater.
If you want to get my best tips and tricks for pike fishing in the dark, make sure to also read this article I wrote: Night Fishing for Pike (Best Methods)
Just make sure to be very close to your rods at all times, as you will want to strike fairly quickly in order to prevent deep hooking the fish and to use audible bite indicators. If you want to take a look at my go-to bite alarms, you can find them on Amazon here.
I have also had very good results using dead bait pop-up sticks during winter. When fishing in cold open water, it’s not only you who is freezing, the predators are as well, and the cold water temperatures are causing them to become rather inactive.
An extra visible bait just off the bottom seems to catch their attention much more and they are more likely to go for it, it appears.
Make sure to also check out this helpful article I wrote on cold water pike: How to Catch Pike in Cold Water (Best Methods)