The supermarket fish counter has a range of fish that can be used for dead baiting for pike. Fortunately, pike will eat almost anything fishy so there is a good choice of dead baits available regardless of what’s on offer. Here I’ll cover my top 3 dead baits for pike from the supermarket!
*Even though I’m the casual carper I do fish for pike & perch as well as carp. There are some underwater pike videos and tips that you’ll find on my YouTube channel here.
Top 3 pike dead baits from supermarkets
1 – Sprats! Best for short-range
Sprats are a small oily silverfish that make an awesome pike dead bait – Mainly because they look like a small roach. These are really cheap to buy from any supermarket fish counter and they usually come pre-packed for around £2 which will get you 15+ sprats. You can freeze them and then get them out when needed so you do not always have to have fresh fish out. I usually have a couple of packs in the freezer for whenever I am going.
They can be fish as bait on a standard running rig and they are also suitable for wobbling tactics.
I have rated them as the best for short-range fishing as they are a bit of a pain to hook and cast. Their skin is not as tough as, for example, mackerel and they can fly off if you give them a real launch. I find it best to hook them through the lip and then the by the tail and try and cast lightly if possible rather than flying them over a long distance.
Here is how they look underwater – These are some free offerings on a clear spot that I took while filming some pike – video on YouTube here)
If you are looking to add some attraction to the water sprats can be sliced open to let more oils out or chopped and mushed to really let a strong scent out in the water. Chop them up widthways and then mash them up. You only need to do this with 2 or 3 to get a great aroma around your spot.
2 – Mackerel fillet – Best for long-range
Mackerel in the supermarket comes in a variety of formats from the whole fish, to the whole body to the fillets. My choice from these is the fillets, they are really easy to use and I have no problems with casting them a decent distance. They have produced numbers of pike for me and are my go-to bait for casting. Again, I usually have a couple of packs of these in the freezer.
You can fish with them from frozen as they will defrost in the water but I prefer to defrost them in the fridge overnight before a session. When on the bank I trim them down to a triangle shape that is roughly 5cm bigger than my treble and cast that out. I find the triangle shape gets me more bites than others, I guess as it more represents a fish shape. If you are going for bigger pike then you can use bigger treble and match that size where needed.
You can buy them fresh from the fish counter or frozen in the freezer isle –
This means you can just grab how many you need before a session.
Here’s a recent catch on the mackerel fillets, not a big one but this day brought me 9 runs in 4 hours on the legered dead bait. I picked up the mackerel from Tesco on the way for this session. I have seen some pike forums a question mark over the quality of supermarket fish v that from the tackle shop. From my experience, there isn’t any different and I have no issues using supermarket baits.
3 – Sardines
Sardines are more of a backup bait for me. Again, like sprats theses are a softer bait and not suitable for constant casting and retrieving. They are also not the best for wobbling dead baits but do have some days when they will get me bites and nothing else will. Here we are looking to buy fresh fish from the fish counter and not the tinned versions!