In my last pike blog I wrote about my float ledger rig, a simple but versatile rig that could be used in many different scenarios and situations to catch pike.  As with all aspects of our wonderful sport anglers have over the years devised more specialised methods and tackle to approach certain situations and one specialised piece of angling kit I use in my pike fishing is the Dead Bait Pencil.

The humble dead bait pencil is now found commercially in many forms and is now made of many different materials but it began life made from balsa wood.  And if you can get hold of these old versions they are by far the best.   It is a piece of angling tackle that is simple in its design but deadly at its function.


So what is so great about this piece of balsa wood with an eye at one end? Well the huge benefits dead baits pencils offer is in their low resistance and un-match able sensitivity. The very material it is made of, balsa wood, is the lightest wood in the world meaning when that pike moves off with the bait in its mouth it feels no resistance from the float as it does so.  Set up correctly in the right scenario you can see indications on the float as soon as the pike picks up the dead bait, allowing anglers to detect even the most sensitive of feeding pike.

So what scenarios do I use a dead bait pencil? Well I would say 90% of the time I use a dead bait pencil is on the canal when I want to present a bait down the inside margin.  I set the float enough over depth just to allow the float to lie flat on the water’s surface. If I can get away with no weight on the line then I always will do this but the float can be fished as a float ledger rig.   Set correctly you often see ripples coming from the float as the pike mouths the bait long before the bite develops and the float moves off.  Being alert to pike activity in your swim early is essential to not ending up with a deep hooked pike in my opinion.


As with any set up there are the little edges that can add even more to the rig and in all my fishing rigs I adhere to one motto, don’t put it on the line unless it serves a purpose.  One huge edge is to utilise a Fox Low resistance run ring, thread this on your line and then attach your float to this instead of attaching the float directly to the line.  The extra diameter of the low resistance run ring compared to the standard pencil eye means the line moves smoothly through the ring and practically removes any resistance from the rig.

If piking for you is all about the float moving then dead bait pencils are where it is at, often the float will shudder a few times and then slowly cock and slide under the surface, for me, it is in that moment, I realise why I love pike fishing.

In practice it’s a deadly tactic to have in your armoury and one that has caught me many pike over the years including this lovely 14lb pike taken on a float fished smelt utilising a dead bait pencil setup.


So that’s the dead bait pencil and how and why I use it.  Cheap as chips to pick up and a great fun yet functional piece of tackle to use.  Why not pick one up next time you are in store and give it a go.


Thank you for reading and till next time

Tight Lines