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The Zander Q&A

The midsummer is coming, meaning that the high season for zander is almost upon us! For many anglers, this elusive fish is among the most exciting species to target. That’s why people so often approach me with the same questions: How do I catch zander? What lures should I use? And what about the colors? To help you start the upcoming season with a bang, I’ve gathered some of the most common questions on how to catch zander. Without further ado: the Zander Q&A!   

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How do I fish for Zander?

When it comes to fishing for zander, there are many different schools. Trolling, casting, and jigging are the household options, with casting being my personal favorite. Why so? Well, it’s all about the extreme way the zander strikes. Experiencing that wildly aggressive tug while casting on a lighter gear during a warm summer’s day is an otherworldly experience. I urge you to try it out – after the first strike, you’ll be hooked. 

Where and when can I find zander?

I do most of my zander fishing in the big lakes of Sweden. The high season starts after midsummer – in late May and early June the zander has a spawning period. During that time, many lakes have restrictions on fishing so that the zander can spawn without human interference. For the future of fishing, those restrictions are vital. But when the high season starts, I’d advise you to lurk around the zander’s spawning grounds. In other words, seek places with hard, rocky bottoms and an average depth of 1–3 meters. Occasionally, the water’s depth can reach 3 to 5 meters. And of course, this varies a lot. But generally speaking, places like that are a good spot to start looking. If you have access to a fishing boat, I recommend you take the wheel and try to cover as much ground as possible. But it’s good to keep in mind that also shore casting can have very worthwhile results. 
 

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What gear should I have?

You don’t have to be a seasoned pro with million-dollar equipment to catch zander. Here are the basics that’ll go a long way: an 8.6 to 9 feet (2.6–2.7 m) rod with the casting weight of 15–45 grams. For instance, the medium-heavy Defy or Rely from 13 Fishing suit the task brilliantly. Add in a size 2500–3000 spinning reel to fit the rod and you're good to go.

And how about the lure? Often the best lure is the one you feel most comfortable with. As there are so many lures on the market, with each one claiming superiority over others, I can share some of my favorites. For zander fishing, I often go for soft baits (4–6 inches), either with a paddle tail or a smaller tail. Storm has a wide variety of plastics that are great for targeting zander. For best results, rig these rubber treats with a jig head with a weight of 10–15 grams. Zander can also be fished with hard baits. Rapala’s Rippin’ Rap, Original Floater, and Shad Rap are noteworthy candidates, to name a few. For line, I’d pick a braided line in sizes 0.20–0.25 – one of my personal favorites in that category is the Sufix 131.

Which color should I choose?

When it comes to colors, the best method is trial and error, as it all depends on so many different factors. But as a rule of thumb, on sunnier days I opt for the brighter lures – the ones with gold and glitter. And when it’s cloudy, I start with the muddier colors: brown-and-grey, black-and-dark green with a white belly, and so on. And it’s good to keep in mind that when it comes to fishing, nothing is set in stone! If the usual tricks won’t do, it’s time to shake things up. 

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How to get the fish to strike? 

Ah, perhaps the most crucial part. Here’s a tip I consider essential: first, locate the places where the shallows of the spawning pools meet deeper waters. These are the places where zander usually roam. If you happen to have a sonar system at hand, you can save a lot of time and trouble. After finding the right place, you can start casting. Let the lure drop to the bottom – once you see the line getting slack, you can start reeling. I recommend trying out short attacks of high-speed reeling, followed by letting the lure sink. About 80 % of the time, the strike comes at the precise moment you start reeling after letting the lure touch the bottom. When you feel that strike – and believe me, you will feel it – strike quickly back with the rod! This way you’ll get the hooks set in right. And the rest is relatively easy. Zander can put up a fight, but when compared to a pike, for instance, it’s more of a tussle than a battle. 

Hopefully, you’ve found some wisdom in these tips! And remember this: fishing can often be as much art as it is science. That means there’ll be a lot of variation. But that’s the beauty of it – finding the secret recipe after hours of meticulous experimentation. That’s angling at its best.

-JN