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Zander Fishing at Night (Best Baits and Methods)

Zander Fishing at Night (Best Baits and Methods)

The zander is a predator that hunts both during the day and at night and while night fishing for this species is rather common, there are also many anglers out there who have never tried it. This article is for those of you who want to master the art of zander fishing at night.

The zander is a rather active night hunter that can be caught on lures and natural baits. Brightly coloured softbaits on the spinning rod or a smaller popped-up deadbait on the ledger rod will yield the very best results. Both lures and dead baits should be fished on, or very close to the bottom.

Continue reading this article to get all the best tips on baits and methods for nighttime zeds.

Do Zander Feed at Night?

Thanks to its big eyes and superb sense of smell, the zander is a rather active nighttime feeder.

Their advanced night vision is made possible by the tapedum licidum in their eyes, which is a layer of tissue just behind the retina that reflects light back to the photoreceptors, making them extremely sensitive and allowing the fish to see in very low light conditions.

This ability to see in the dark, coupled with a well-developed sense of smell makes the zander the ultimate hunter in the dark.

For anglers who are up for the challenges of fishing at night, the zander is the perfect fit. Let’s see how you can actually catch!

How to Fish for Zander at Night?

Courtesy of Pawel Swat

If the surroundings allow for it, spin fishing can be a very effective method for nighttime zeds.

If, on the other hand, the venue you are fishing in does not allow for frequent casting in complete darkness, due to snags above and/or below the surface, or if you prefer a more passive way of fishing at night, ledgering for zander is the way to go.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these fishing methods!

Spin Fishing

lure fishing for zander
Courtesy of Pawel Swat

No matter if you are fishing a lake, river, or canal, make sure to get your lure down to the bottom of the venue!

It is here that the zander will most commonly hunt and feed at night and hence, this is where you will be getting your bites.

Consequently, softbaits that you can twitch over the bottom should be your first choice when spin fishing or zander at night. These will allow you to present them exactly where the zander hold up.

Additionally, you can stop retrieving them for a short while, or even let them sit on the bottom for a longer period of time, to attract even less active fish.

RELATED ARTICLE: Make sure to use a wire trace when lure fishing for zander in venues that also hold pike. This article discusses the topic of wire traces for zander fishing in more detail.

As you won’t be able to use your vision in the dark, you are relying entirely on your senses. Don’t worry if it feels somewhat weird and uncomfortable in the beginning, you’ll et used to that rather quickly.

Trust your senses and your hands, they will know how to use and control your tackle!

Pro Tip: I highly recommend using braided line, as it won’t stretch and will give you even more sensitivity and feeling. Use a 30-40lb braid in open, snag-free water, and a 50lb braid for snaggy venues.

However, in order for that to work 100%, you will need the right type of spinning rod!

Ideally, this should be a rod with a stiff blank and a more sensitive, highly distinct tip action. As you won’t cast out the biggest or heaviest of softbaits, a casting weight of 10-40g is optimal.

Such a rod will enable you to feel every little tug or bite on the other end of your line and give you the perfect bait presentation.

The Daiwa Prorex is such a spinning rod and one of my personal favourites for lighter spin fishing for zander och perch. Take a closer look at this great rod on Amazon here.


ledgering for zander
Courtesy of George and Ian Weatherall

Naturally, ledgering for zander means fishing a) on the bottom and b) in a more passive manner. Personally, I’d prefer this method for an entire night session, as spin fishing all night long will just tire you out.

On the contrary, a ledger setup allows you to rest comfortably behind your rod, or rods, as this passive way of bottom fishing lets you use more than one rod without any problem.

Using more than one rod has another advantage; you can test out different rigs and types of bait to see what works best to catch the zeds.

I like to use a set of two 2lb specialist rods, as their medium action is just right for zeds. They can also handle the occasional bigger pike, should you happen to get one on.

My favourite is the Korum Barbel Rod. The perfect rod to fish for zander with and one that is very decently priced. You can find out more about it on Amazon here.

Most commonly, a simple running rig with a 1-1.5oz lead will be totally sufficient for catching zander. As they tend to be rather picky and sensitive, the lighter your setup the better your results will be!

When it comes to your end tackle, a soft wire trace with two size 6 or 8 treble or double hooks will be perfect for deadbaiting with smaller baitfish.

For extra visibility and attraction, you can use a pop-up stick in order to fish your deadbait just off the bottom; a deadly trick for zander!

RELATED ARTICLE: Check out this tutorial article on how to make your own deadbait pop-up sticks!

Best Lures for Zander at Night

As mentioned above, softbaits in bright colors should be your first choice. I found that the aggressively bright colors make the baits extra visible for the zander’s special eyes, especially in completely dark water.

Colors such as neon and fluoro green, yellow, and white are great choices for zeds, especially if they have some glitter to them!

Twin Tails

One of my all-time favourites is the simple, good old twin tail. Yes, it’s an old-school softbait, but one that still dominates when it comes to night lure fishing, for both zander and perch.

The color is simply unbeatable and the two tails give it a really nice swimming action and extra vibration.

Head over to Amazon and take a closer look at the Gotcha Twin Tail


Slimmer neon shads are another secret weapon for nighttime zeds. These softbaits have a fish-like appearance and have super high visibility on the bottom.

Sizes of 9-12cm have worked best for me, but many anglers do not shy away from using bigger sizes either. Make sure to use different bait sizes and see what works best for your venue.

A shad that I use a lot is the Mr Twister Sassy Shad in the colour chartreuse. It’s an absolute zander killer that has landed me plenty of fish in the dark. I think it’s the colour combination that makes it so irresistible to the zander!

Check out the Mr. Twister Shad on Amazon here

Best Dead Baits for Zander at Night

Courtesy of Sam Moore

If you are choosing the ledger rod, your best dead bait pick would be smaller fish of about 3 to 5 inches.

My top 3 dead baits for zander include the following:

  1. Roach
  2. Bleak
  3. Rudd

All three have a body size that will fit the zanders somewhat smaller mouth perfectly.

Furthermore, each of those three baitfish have very distinct and visible colouration, as they are all either silvery or golden, as well as shiny and/or somewhat glittery.

In other words, zeds will be able to see them very well on, or just off the bottom!

Pro Tip: If the zander shy away from whole baits, try to use half a dead bait instead, or take off the fish’s head. This can make a lot of difference!

Essentials to Bring When Night Fishing for Zander

Head Torch

A reliable head torch is your most important tool in the dark. Without it, you won’t be able to orientate yourself on the bank. It’ll also be very difficult to both land and handle your catch.

I use a USB rechargeable torch that I charge and keep in my car at all times. This way I make sure I never ever forget it. Nothing is more frustrating than arriving at the water and realizing that you’ve forgotten your head torch at home. Trust me, I’ve been there!

Check out a top-quality head torch for a decent price on Amazon

Electric Bite Alarm

For ledgering, you’ll need some form of visual bite indicator, as you just won’t be able to see your rod tips at night.

An electric bite alarm both sets of a visual indication, in the form of a bright LED light, and an audible one, in form of a beeping sound, when a fish has taken your bait and takes some line off your reel.

You don’t have to use expensive bite alarms, as budget models function and hold quite well these days.

I’ve had my Nash Siren S5 alarms for 7 years now and haven’t even had to change batteries yet! For the price, those are really amazing bite alarms!

Just make sure to also use rather light hangers or swingers, in order to be able to detect those, often, careful zander takes!

Check the Nash Siren’s price and reviews on Amazon

Long Nose Pliers

Especially when ledgering for zander, it’s easily happened that the fish has swallowed your deadbait and hooks rather deep. It can be difficult, as well as dangerous, to try to unhook the fish using your fingers, as zander have rather pointy teeth and sharp gill plates.

That’s why you should always have your long nose pliers with you! They make unhooking predators an easy task, even in the middle of the night.

First Aid Kit

If you’ve cut yourself on the fish regardless, bringing a first aid kit can be a very good idea. Or maybe you’ve fallen and hurt yourself, as you can’t always see what you walk or stumble over in the darkness.

A first aid kit can save you from having to finish your session too early, so make sure you’ve got one with you at all times.

Related Night Fishing Articles

Featured image courtesy of Tom Watts