Fact File

  • Often thought as a cross between a pike and perch, the zander is a species in its own right.
  • The Latin name for zander is stizostedion lucioperca
  • Zander are not indigenous to the UK and were introduced illegally to parts of East Anglia in the 1960s. They soon took hold and have become fairly widespread.
  • The biggest zander to be caught in the UK weighed in at 21lb 5oz and was caught by James Benfield from the River Severn in 2007.
Where are they?

Zander are a relatively ‘new’ species to the British Isles. The were introduced illegally into the East Anglian broads in the mid 20th Century and have become widespread in that part of England. They are also found is numerous canals, as well as selected stillwaters, too.

How to recognise a zander

At first glance the zander may appear to look like a cross between a pike and perch and although it may share some characteristics with both, it is very much a species in its own right.

The first thing to note is the head of the species. Its mouth is full of small but irregular teeth and its eye appears almost blank and lifeless. It’s actually opaque and enables it to feed in all but the muddiest of water.

The business end of a zander.

Its flanks are a grey/green colour, with darker bars that run vertically down its side before melting away to an almost white belly.

Two dorsal fins – the first spikey like that of the perch – can be found on its back.

The biggest zander to be caught from British waters weighed in at 21lb 5oz and was caught from the River Severn in 2007.

Where to look for zander

Zander have managed to establish themselves so well UK venues because they are particularly well adapted to life in the slow-flowing, sparsely vegetated, rather murky waters that comprise so many of the British lowland rivers.

They thrive in water with low visibility, unlike pike, which often dominate in clear water.

While more commonly found in drains and rivers, many stillwaters are home to zander. Do your research before setting out, though.

So what do zander eat?

Zander are predators and live largely on a diet of fish.

How can I catch zander?

For some reason, zander seem to prefer a deadbait to a livebait so this should form the basis of any attack.

Small roach make good zander baits.

Whatever set-up you choose – either legering or floatfishing – one thing to mindful of is keeping everything as low resistance as possible. Zander will drop a bait the moment they feel resistance so free-running rigs are best.

As for bait, go for something small. They don’t grow as big as pike so look for a 2oz dead roach or skimmer bream.

Go target zander now!

Legering is probably the best way of catching zander. Unless the water you are fishing is heavily coloured, they mostly caught in darkness and that means floatfishing is rendered impossible.

The CK Fusion Carbon Carp 12ft 2.5lb tc rod is capable of taming zander too

As long as you don’t need to cast to the horizon, a mid-range carp rod will do the job. The CK Fusion2 Carbon Carp 12ft 2.5lb tc is a good option because it has enough power to cast deadbaits a good distance, while retaining enough give in the tip not to pull hooks or ruin the fight.

Look to couple up your rod with a suitable reel. This needs to have a good line capacity, enough power in the gearing to withstand cranking in legered deadbaits and a freespool facility should the fish want to take line on the take. All those things considered, go for something from the Matsuku Rotorblade 5000 reel range, all of which represent outstanding value and start at just £10.

Choose from the Matsuku Rotorblade 5000 reel range – prices start at just £10

Mainline needs, first and foremost, to be strong. Zander might not reach massive sizes – a 10lb fish is exceptional – but your line will be required to put up with casting heavy baits. Therefore, go for KKarp Mimetic High Abrasion Line in 10lb breaking strain.

The next thing you’ll need is leads. Be careful, though. Zander hate resistance in any rig so only use a bomb that has the ability to reach the required distance. The CamoFish Commercial Lead Kit is ideal because it will give options for all scenarios.

Save time and money by buying ready-tied traces

When it comes to hooks, trebles are required for mounting deadbeats. Hook size should be on the smaller size, say 8s or 10s because zander prefer smaller deadbaits. Trebles already mounted to a wire trace can be bought from Dragon Pike and save time and hassle.

As you’ll almost certainly be legering, a rod pod is a good investment. Choose one that is lightweight, sturdy and easy to erect. TheCK Groundhugga Deluxe Rod Pod is a great choice and enables the use of three rods, should they be required.

The Black Zero bite alarm set includes three alarms for just £20

Fishing into dark also means bite alarms are essential. Sensitivity and reliability are the key words and with the Carp Kinetics Black Zero set you can add ‘value’, too. At £20 for three top quality alarms, they are unbeatable.

A bedchair and bivvy are also advisable. The Carp Kinetics Bed comes with a free sleeping bag and is brilliantly priced at just £50. In terms of a bivvy, the CK Hideout is perhaps the best value of its kind in the UK. For just £100, you get a superb bit of kit that comes with a free winter skin for those chilly evenings.

Now see the tackle in action

*Matsuku Rotorblade 5000 reel range – get yours today!

*CK Groundhugga Deluxe Rod Pod – lightweight and durable

*CK Black Zero Bite Alarms – amazing value at just £20

*CK Hideout Bivvy – the only bivvy you’ll ever need