Three Muskie Fishing Tactics to Catch the Big One

Posted on April 22, 2013 by .

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 be some of the most difficult to catch. Before you set out on your next muskie fishing expedition to capture the big one, here are three tips to help you select the right gear.

Search Lures

Before you can start attracting muskies, you’ve got to find the right search bait, 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 you can 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 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, or, at the least, create a stir that brings nearby fish in to investigate.

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 muskie 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.

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 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 you have many 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 depth when out on the lake. You can give them a slow countdown once they hit the water, and you should never give up on a potential bite while sinking or retrieving. Open-water fish tend to respond well to these baits, so react 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.

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  1. steve herbeck says:

    what you saw was a prototype of a line thru transmitter shaped much like a big bullet weight pete and i have been working on with livingston lures. digitally reproduced sounds of fleeing baitfish. batt life is 200+ hrs of continuous use. some colors that will be available are blk,chart/blk tip, org, org/chart., pearl/glow, clear. more sounds will be available but the cisco was primarily used for testing these prototypes. it is a more continuous sound where many other baits fish are more naturally intermittent and it has just seemed overall in alot situations and venues to be a very effective sound through our testing of livingston lures (also with EBS). we have been running them in front of sucker rigs, both casting and trolling artificial baits while musky fishing but many more effective applications will be discovered moving forward im sure. i cant wait to try using one in cold water on a tip up with both live bait and deadbaits or vertical jigging., just about any live bait or artificial presentation has the potential with a little experimentation to be “enhanced” as many many sounds are available besides fleeing baitfish like crawfish and other non minnow forage, sounds of feeding fish, etc. google livingston lures for more info and thier fine lures for everything from panfish to saltwater. bass pro, fleet farm, rollie & helens among many others stock the products with the new thru line bullet available soon. if you are really itching to get your hands on some now i’d go direct to livinston ask for erick. if i can be of any further personal assistance dont be hesitant to give me a call or message either me or pete maina

  2. Glen Wiesmueller says:

    What and where can I buy the device that attaches to the line above the sucker rig. On Woods and Waters they used it and said it made the sound of a Cisco.

  3. S. Ackermann says:

    I appreciate it when you said that using plastic baits is a good idea because they move around in the water, thus attracting the attention of muskies. If that is the case, then I will take with me a lot of soft baits when I go out musky fishing. If that will increase my chances of taking a few of them home and convincing the girl I like that I can fish, then I will do it. Thank you.

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