If you want to be a pike angler then you will need to use the float ledger rig in some situations. The float ledger is great method for presenting a static deadbait on the bottom of a lake, river, drain or canal. Everyone who has ever fished for pike with dead bait has used the float ledger rig at one time or another. It is the one the most popular and successful methods of catching pike.
In this post we are going to look at the equipment you will need to set up your own float ledger rig.
When I first went pike fishing I tagged along with a couple of mates who both set up float ledger rigs for a session on a small drain. It was the first rig that I learned to tie and use. During that day we caught a few small pike and I was hooked on pike fishing. Since then I have used the float ledger to catch many pike. My first double, a thirteen pounder, came a few weeks after that first session on a float ledger rig. Another notable capture on this rig was my first twenty pound pike which I caught from a one acre pond.
The 10 Items of Tackle You Will Need to Set Up a Successful Float Ledger Rig are:
1. Fishing Rod
You will need a fishing rod that is strong enough to play and land a pike. Your pike rod should ideally be 11 to 12 foot long. The length of the fishing rod is important for two reasons:
a. Casting out the deadbait. You will be able to cast your deadbait further with a pike rod that is 11 or 12 feet long than one that is 9 or 10 feet in length. The ability to cast further is important when fishing from the bank rather than a boat. The extra distance you can cast a bait will often make a difference between catching and blanking.
b. Playing the fish. You will find playing a fish from the bank is much easier when you have the extra length of the rod to reach over obstacles like reeds, weed and bushes.
Pike are a large fish that will put up a hard fight. Your pike rod should have a test curve between two and three pounds. The test curve indicates the strength of the rod. Stronger rods have a higher test curve. Alternative sized rods can be used in the correct circumstances but these guide lines will start you off on the right footing for float ledgering from the bank.
My Daiwa Esox Whisker Kevlar rods are no longer availabe although there are modern alternatives available from The Tackle Shop in Gainsborough.
I also have a 3lb test curve Shakespeare Quadra Carp rod with a nice soft action. It is an excellent rod for playing pike at close range and is powerful enough to cast a deadbait a good distance. The Shakespeare Sigma Pike 2 Piece Rod is the modern version and is affordable.
Your reel will need to be large enough to carry at least 150 yards of 15lb line. Although you won’t be able to cast a dead bait that far you may want to drift a bait quite a long way out. Smaller ‘match’ type reels will just not be strong enough to cope with the pressure applied by a heavy or hard fighting pike.
You should load your reel with 150 yards of 15lb monofilament line. Although many reels will take more line, in my experience, this is plenty. Any extra line usually ends up unused and in the bin when you reload in twelve months’ time.
There are many different brands of mono with reportedly different properties. As mono can become damaged from gravel, snags and even your rod rings and the bail arm roller on your reel, you will throw a lot away during a season. My preference is for Daiwa Sensor in dark brown. It is fairly cheap but I find it to be a reliable choice.
The float ledger rig needs a stop knot to hold the float in position. I have used a length of monofilament main line and elastic bands to tie these knots but my preference is for Powergum. This handy product is made from a soft stretchy rubbery nylon. It is kinder on the main line than a piece of mono and doesn’t unravel like elastic bands.
I have the Fox version in my tackle box but other makes are available.
Pike floats come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and materials. My personal favourites for float ledgering are the Drennan Piker and Zeppler ranges. They are hollow and made in a clear plastic material with a bright orange top. I particularly like them because they can be attached bottom-end only or with the main line threaded through the middle. I usually attach them bottom-end only using a ledger bead.
Beads are used for preventing floats and ledger bombs from damaging or passing over knots.
7. John Roberts Quick Change Beads
Floats and ledger weights can be threaded directly onto the main line but I prefer to use a Quick Change Bead. They are part plastic bead which is kinder on the line than a metal swivel. The real advantage is the snap link which allows for a quick change of float or ledger without the need to break down and re-tie the rig.
Once you start using John Roberts Quick Change Beads you will never be without them.
8. John Roberts Rigid Rig Tube
I always add a two inch piece of stiff rig tube between the float and lead to keep them apart during the cast which dramatically reduces the risk of tangles.
I have also used a piece of soft rig tube which does the same job but I prefer rigid tubing.
9. Wire Trace
A trace, also known as snap tackle, made from wire, is absolutely essential. A standard dead-bait trace has a swivel attached to trace wire with two treble or double hooks. Ready-made traces can be bought from all good pike tackle shops.
10. Swivel Leads
You should carry a selection of swivel leads in sizes from ½ to 3 ounce. Use the minimum size you can so the bait is held in position on the lake or river bottom. You will need to use heavier leads in faster flowing rivers or on windy days on larger lakes.