Published Nov 20. 2019 - 2 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 2. 2020

Book review: Pike Fever

Pike anglers have a new bible. This book essentially covers every conceivable aspect of pike fishing… and then some

Jens Bursell
Outdoor Consult
Publishing year: 
Reviewed by: 

Danish angler, photographer and outdoors author Jens Bursell is a well know face and voice in the Danish angling community.
He has been writing and expressing his opinions for many years, and has a wealth of published material on his CV, including several books, lots of magazine articles, countless photos and much more. Lately he has also ventured into producing and selling tackle, namely parts for his release tackle system, which I will return to – and which is covered in meticulous details in the book at hand.
When the book came out, I asked Jens whether it would be interesting to fly fishers, and he replied that he certainly thought so. The reason for my question is that Jens is first and foremost known for his very dedicated work with bait and spin fishing, where he has experimented and written about his findings for many, many years. Even though I'm sure that Jens can be caught casting a fly now and then, it's within bait casting that he's best known. He assured me that the book would contain sections interesting to the fly angler, and after having read the book, I can confirm: it's very useful to people who target pike with the fly. But… and you have to know this if you are expecting a book on fly fishing… this is a book on pike fishing. There's tonnes of lures, wobblers, silicone baits and even fish used as bait – dead ones, but still. It's a book that's aimed on all kinds of pike anglers, and both spin and fly fishermen will carry away a lot of knowledge after having read it.

Large chapter on fly fishing
Beautiful images
Pages from Pike Fever
Jens Bursell

So, with all that said, how is the book?
Well, it's wonderful!
It's 375 pages.
It's really lavishly illustrated.
It's well structured.
It's well written.
It's well laid out.

Well, it's wonderful!

The photography in particular top-notch and almost every page will contain a handful of great images. To illustrate, to impress or simply to be beautiful.
The illustrating ones are mostly of the tackle mentioned in the text, and serve to show you exactly what to use and how to use it. Many are shot on a white background, and arranged in the text so that they vary the visual impression and fit into the flow.
The impressing ones are the ones of pike. You will probably see more large and beautiful pike by leafing through this book than even the most avid pike angler sees in in an entire lifetime.
The beautiful ones are both some of the above as well as pictures of fishing, fights, hunting pike, underwater shots and just plain landscapes.

Bursell's way to attack his subject is based on two things: experience and science. There's a lot of both in the book, and that leads to some very detailed and pretty advanced advice on fishing for pike. It's not just “tie on this pattern and cast to the weed beds", but how to rig the fly, what hook(s) to use, how to mount several swivels, tubes, pearls, spring rings and much more to get the perfectly hooking setup. And this is covered for all types of tackle and lures – and bait.
This is Bursell's main act: the release tackle, and it gets more coverage and attention than ever before. And it's very interesting. Using small hooks, offset rigging and certain ways of mounting it all, you get a much higher hookup rate and will typically injure the fish much less. Bursell supports this statement with numerous arguments and lots of illustrations and examples, both schematic and in real life.
People may disagree with him regarding his methods, and swear by the classic ways of doing things, but it's hard to argue against the apparent efficiency of the method, especially considering its obvious advantages when it comes to not harming fish, which are supposed to be released.
I have personally always thought that Bursell was slightly over the top when he talked passionately about his methods and rigs, but I have to admit that this book has made me much less skeptic, and even made me consider trying them – in spite of the fact that I'm known as a person who doesn't change methods or tools just because of some fashion or fad.

Of course a book of this magnitude also covers other aspects of pike and pike fishing. You will learn about pike biology, the pike habitats and how to locate the pike in them. There's a thorough coverage of pike quarry and how and when the pike hunts including considerations on air pressure, moon phases, precipitation and much more. The parts teaching to locate pike also go into great detail about gear, which includes boats and electronics with lots of examples on how to read scanners, fish and depth finders. There's even coverage of using a remote controlled “bait boat" to bring out your bait!
Bursell hasn't written all these chapters, but has help from five competent fellow anglers and writers.

Handling pike
The release tackle
More pages from Pike Fever
Jens Bursell

So, is this a book for fly anglers? I would argue yes. There's a long chapter solely on fly fishing for pike – even though it only comprises a fraction of the book. Most of the general chapters on the environment, finding the fish, triggering strikes, fighting and handling the fish and other subjects are as useful to the fly angler as they are to a pike angler using any type of gear. And I have to admit that as a cross-over angler, who does fish a spinning rod now and then, I can find a lot of very useful information, even being as green as I am as a pike fisherman using spinning gear. I caught all my pike on flies, but that just might change.
There is of course also instructions on how to rig a fly with Bursell's release rig, showing the methods and the parts in detail.
The die hard fly fisherman might choke a bit when the direction changes towards silicone jigs and natural bait, but the parts of the book not dealing with these specific subjects, more than compensates for pictures of multiple treble hooks threaded through dead fish and plastic lures. If nothing else, any pike fly fisherman can enjoy the images and the great layout as much as any angler.

The only grudge I have – if that can be called a grudge with any kind of reason – is that the book is very thorough! Now, thorough isn't a negative thing as such, but it does lead to a very demanding book, which some people might find just a bit too “serious" – too much information, so to say. This book has everything on pike and pike fishing methods, everything on gear, graphs, tables, statistics, measurements, even CT scanner and X-ray images (yup!) and many other things, which you won't see in many other books on fishing – if any. I consider this a clear asset, but some readers might be less taken by such a wealth of information.

I see a lot of impressing books, and have quite a few on my shelves. I have a handful of books on pike fishing, but compared to "Pike Fever" they do seem a little bleak and kind of superficial.
This is by any definition a "pike angler's bible". There might have been books on pike angling before, but this one has to top them all.

As mentioned, the book is available in Danish, Swedish, German and English, and is sold via many sources, including Amazon, eBay and various tackle shops. Signed copies can be ordered from Bursell's own online store. The price is 40 Euros or about 45 US$ or 35 UK£. Not a cheap book, but considering its size and page count – and great content and looks – it's absolutely fair.
A lot of the hardware needed for the release rigs shown in the book, can also be bought from Bursell's web site.


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