While many things in life and fishing are arguable (other than fish with teeth are really cool), I’ll offer that warm-water muskies are likely the most challenging, since so many different presentations can be effective. The key to the whole game is finding what they’re in the mood for on a given day or hour. Those who do it best realize the goal of having the most release photos to show off. Let’s look at three possibly not-so-popular methods to hold a muskie’s tail.
The Ultimate Search Lure: A big part of this muskie game is simply covering water. It’s a low density critter, and a lure that easily covers lots of water – with the ability to triggers responses – with good hooking – is the goal. The vast majority of folks would give the nod to an in-line spinner (bucktail) and/or a spinnerbait. And frankly they’re dead on – as these baits can be moved quickly, create flash, vibration and generally hook and hold well. The only negative is they’ve been around for years … maybe these fish haven’t seen a swimbait. In fact, it’s likely.
To be specific in this instance (as soft baits with vibrating tails are often referred to as swimbaits), I’m speaking about a Sebile Magic Swimmer hardbait, as that’s where my experience has been. These are double-jointed lures with a head design and internal weighting – that cause them to have an exaggerated, maybe snakelike, swimming action. There are several things that make these lures rate very high as a search lure. Part of being effective with today’s much more experienced (more anglers) muskies – is showing them something different – something that they haven’t already been fooled into biting. For searching, I find that by far, the fast-sinking models are most versatile.
These baits cast like a bullet, allowing for long casts, whether with, crossing or even directly into the wind. They offer a big (deep sides), aggressive profile and have exceptional action at all speeds (in this case – as fast as you can reel), and the way fish seem to attack them, they hook and hold well (on the largest size, 228, the bait comes standard with three hooks; better hooking for muskies is achieved by removing the middle hook and replacing front and back hooks with 5/0). More “little things” to try to trigger fish can be accomplished once a follower is detected – everything from twitches, to pulls – to a dead pause that turns into a wobbling, swimming fall. The most aggressive retrieve that can often be effective in triggering responses is a very fast retrieve with a continuous, varied twitching of the rod. While you may not think it at first glance, they go through weeds well too.
Another very important consideration: they’re easy to retrieve. There’s very little resistance, amazingly-so for the amount of action. That helps big time, as the more hours you can put in, effectively, the better your odds. The “new” in spinners these days – are big ones, some like garbage can lids … it’s like pulling a live goat it, and that’s hard