For me, river piking is all about keeping things simple. By finding the sort of areas pike like to hang out, you don't need to then over-complicate the situation with your rigs and end tackle.
The Korum Snapper range makes life much easier. I usually grab a couple of packets in the right float sizes for where I expect to go fishing. Some of the float patterns are better suited to river fishing, like the Dumpy Float shape. You can trot baits with this, but it's also fine for laying on dead baits in a static position near snags, deep gullies and margins.
In the kit, you get three float stops, 4mm beads, a buffer bead, float and a matching weight. Everything you need to set it up. It saves the confusion and as the Dura-Bung floats are easily the strongest and longest-lasting clear floats on the market, they'll last you a long time to come, too.
On the trace front, I sometimes tie my own traces, but the Korum Snapper Traces are robust and strong enough to just keep in my Ruckbag and take with me when roving down the river. I usually go for larger sized hooks, as I prefer larger baits. Big baits for big fish, and all that! These traces go down to a size 10, though, so when targeted shyer fish, or perch or zander, these are a great option.
Above: Nice smelt and the appropriate Snapper trace. Easy!
Hooking deadbaits can be confusing for some people, but here's an easy guide to getting it right (see images below). Hooking baits in this way ensures more positive hookups and more pike on the bank!
Above: Attach the top hook (nearest the swivel) into the thick, tough part of the tail root. Then the bottom hook inside the meaty part of the fish, halfway along.
Setting the depth correctly is always quite simple with pike fishing. Simply adjust the top float stop and bead to the depth of the river. You'll know if it's working, because your float won't be carried down with the current. Set it so the float is just creating a crease in the river - this means it's at its most sensitive.
Above: Adjust the depth to suit each swim you target.
On the rod and reel front, you want some pretty sturdy tackle. I usually go for at least a 15lb reel line, and use 2.5lb carp rods or heavier. Reels will be my trust KXI freespin reels, which I can simply set up with the freespin facility set really loose. When roving along a river, I tend to do away with drop off indicators and alarms and the like, as it just encourages you to sit still and be lazy!
Above: Keep your rod setup simple and keep moving swims to find the pike.
Staying organised when pike fishing is essential, as pike themselves are a big toothy critter that aren't exactly well behaved on the bank. Make sure you've a good unhooking mat, a good set of forceps or long nose pliers, and if you do have fears about unhooking pike, go with somebody experienced, or get a special chain glove to help.
Your tackle also needs to be organised. You're moving swims, so you need to be able to just pack up and go right away. For this reason, I use a Korum Ruckbag and use it as a fishing station. I open the lid and then open my tackle box inside the bag, without taking it out. That way, it's just a case of closing the lid and zipping up the bag and I'm off!
Above: Organisation on the bank is important when piking
Now it's a case of romping those river banks and seeking out good areas. Do some research at your local tackle shop and find out which areas have a lot of silver fish, too. The pike won't be far away. Urban areas are usually good, as the human activity wards away predators so silver fish and therefore the pike thrive. Some of my best local stretches are in town centres or tourist areas, even, so don't be put off by a bit of urban piking.
Also remember that these tips will work just as well on stillwaters, canals and drains. Pike are widespread in many areas and offer great winter sport. Get out there and catch a big snapper!