When it comes to muskie fishing, there are a lot of opinions, but one thing most fishers agree on is that warm-water muskies can often be some of the most difficult to get a hold of. Before you set out on your next musky fishing expedition to capture the big one, here are three tips to help you select the right gear:
1.) Search Lures
Before you can start attracting muskies, you’ve got to find the right search bait or search lure, right? The truth is, muskies can be shallow-water creatures, but they aren’t all the same. It’d be great if you could just have a one-size-fits-all lure and cast it on out, but if you’re really serious about catching some trophy fish, you’ve got to have a large-area strategy. This means that your approach needs to be one that is able to change depending upon circumstances, location, and the fish you’re dealing with at the moment.
An effective strategy is to cover vast areas with spinner baits or in-line bucktails. The unfortunate part about this is that, because these baits have been used over and over for many, many years, they’ve become less effective over time due to conditioning. Although you might not realize it, fish in a certain area catch on to our tricks and tactics. Consider using a non-conventional bait to get one over on those conditioned fish.
Swimbaits like the Sebile magic swimmer are often the ticket. One of the best aspects of using these lures is that they can be cast long and into the wind, and they sink fast. I would caution you to remove one of the three hooks if you’re going to use the largest size, the 228. After casting, consider a short pause followed by a slow, twitching retrieve to capture attention. Even through weeds, this approach is likely to hook a muskie, and at the least, garner more attention to the area for others to investigate what’s going on.
2.) Jerk Baits
Even though jerk baits have been known to work great in cooler weather, my experience has been that they can act effectively all year long. Jerk baits are also affected by the fisherman’s outlook. If you’re inexperienced, you might not understand the subtleties of using these kinds of lures. The fact is, the slightest twitch, jerk and retrieve from your line can cause expected and unexpected results.
The ultimate goal of using a jerk bait is to emulate a wounded meal for the muskie. You want to ensure that your lure is signaling the natural movement of an easy target to potential predators. During the warmer weather, the glider style has been shown to be effective due to its consistent actions. The truth is, however, that it seems muskies are more attracted to erratic movements in many cases. While you might think that consistent movements will capture and hold attention, these movements go against nature, and this loses great musky fishing opportunities.
My advice is to never do the same thing twice. Cast in one area a few times, then move to another, then back to the original spot for one time, then someplace completely different.
3.) Soft Plastic Baits
Soft plastic baits work well, just like jerk baits, all year long. One of the key benefits of using soft plastics is that they wiggle and present a more natural movement, and that’s something hard baits simply can’t compete with. At times, it seems, muskies simply want to go for something wiggling around in front of them as opposed to chasing something rigid that may be darting off or wounded. When choosing a soft bait, keep in mind that there are a number of options, including total soft baits and hybrid soft baits that employ a hard core with soft tails.
When building your soft bait arsenal, consider picking up lures of varying weights so that you’re equipped to handle virtually any section of the water column or depth when out on the lake. You should also remember that casting these baits may mean giving yourself a slow countdown once you’ve hit the water, but you should never give up on a potential bite while sinking or retrieving. Open-water fish tend to respond well to these baits, so be responsive as soon as you feel something on the line. If you find that your current weight isn’t working, consider adding more weight or taking some away to effectively work the water column in any given spot.