TFB, Good post, I agree with most of what you say. I fish Crawford Reservoir for pike, and use tip ups,with a small dead perch for bait. The smaller the perch the better. However, i do use a thin black wire leader and it doesn't seem to cause me any problem. I use braided line because the mono freezes up on the ice and tangles badly. Anywy, I hook the perch in the dorsal fin so it sits properly. I cut the stomach out and squeeze the air out so it will sit right. I fish the bait one foot off the bottom as you stated. I also let the fish run and I don'[t get excited and pull the line up right away. Usually the fish will stop running, andI wait again. When it takes back off, then I set the hook. My largest pike so far is 41 1/2", with many over 36". This year is very slow. The drought of a few years ago really devastated the pike. Last year I caught several in the 28-30" range, so I thought this winter would be great. So far its been very slow. Your post is full of good info, thanks.