Best Musky Fishing Tackle, a Guide to Rods, Reels, and Lures

musky fishing lures

Best Musky Fishing Tackle , a Guide to Rods, Reels, and Lures

This article will thoroughly cover the best musky fishing tackle. Many anglers consider musky, properly called muskellunge, the top freshwater game fish in North America. They certainly are apex predators. The “fish of ten thousand casts” grow large; the world record is 67 pounds! Musky are very challenging, but the effort may be rewarded with the fish of a lifetime! In order to be successful, anglers need the correct musky fishing tackle.

musky fishing tackle

As mentioned above, musky grow quite large. They prefer a substantial meal and feed primarily on smaller fish. These include suckers, perch, bluegill, shad, and small game fish. Therefore, the lures used to catch them are fairly heavy. This requires anglers to use stout tackle when in search of a trophy musky.

The best musky fishing tackle is a heavy baitcasting rod and reel. It is well suited to casting large, heavy lures that musky prefer. Baitcasting reels have excellent drag systems, which aid in fighting a big fish. The reels also handle heavy line better.These are the reasons that a heavy baitcasting rod and reel is the preferred choice of musky anglers.

However, quality spinning tackle will get the job done for anglers that prefer to use it. A 7′ to 7 1/2′ medium heavy spinning rod and 4000 size reel is a good combination. The same outfits will work well for large northern pike, too.

Best Musky fishing rods

best musky fishing tackle

Anglers fishing for musky need to use heavy tackle. Rods should be at least 7 feet long with a heavy, but fast action. A “fast” action rod is beefy at the butt section and most of the way up the rod, but has a limber tip. This helps greatly when casting lures and fighting a large fish. Several manufacturers, including St Croix, which Capt Jim prefers, make quality musky rods at a reasonable price.

Musky fishing video

Most musky rods are one piece. This makes storing them more difficult, but they are also much stronger. Rods often break at the joints where they go together. One piece rods eliminates that. Below is a link to a St Croix musky baitcasting rod that is available in 7′ and 7′ 6″ lengths. It is an excellent rod for the cost.

Anglers can shop Amazon from this link for St Croix musky baitcasting rods

Spinnerbait fishing

Spinning rods can certainly be used by anglers fishing for musky. Longer rods work a bit better in this application. St Croix offers an excellent musky spinning rod at a reasonable price. It is 8′ long with a medium heavy, fast action.

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for St Croix musky spinning rods

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Best musky fishing reels

Anglers should purchase the best reel that he or she can afford. This is not the place to skimp and save a few dollars. A quality reel will last for decades with proper care. Quality baitcasting and spinning reels are in the $200 range, plus or minus. Below is a link to a Shimano Calcutta 400B baitcasting reel, which is Capt Jim’s preferred casting reel.

fishing for musky

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Calcutta baitcasting reels.

Spinning reels should be fairly large when fishing for musky. The Daiwa Black Gold series was designed for saltwater and works great for musky fishing. It has quality components with excellent drag and bail systems. The 4500 is a good match for the St Croix rod above.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Daiwa Black gold spinning reels

Best musky fishing line

Anglers fishing in freshwater have several choices when choosing fishing line. Monofilament, flourocarbon, and braided line are all used. When it comes to fishing for musky, almost everyone used braided line. Braided line is much thinner than monofilament line of the same strength.

best river fishing lures

Braided line has several advantages over monofilament line. It casts further, has excellent sensitivity, is very strong, and lasts a long time. The only downsides are initial cost and knots are a bit more difficult to tie. Most musky anglers opt for 40 lb to 60 lb braided line. Capt Jim prefers Power Pro braided line for freshwater fishing.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Power Pro line

Best musky fishing lures

top 18 Indiana game fish species

While musky can certainly be caught using live bait, most are caught by anglers casting lures. Most of these are larger versions of lures designed for bass and other species. Muskellunge have a mouth full of teeth. For this reason, most anglers use a 12” to 18” steel leader. This also results in quick and easy lure changes.

Here are the top 11 Musky fishing lures;

  • Mepps Musky Killer

  • Eppinger Daredevil

  • Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait

  • Musky Double Cowgirl

  • Whopper Plopper

  • Suick Thriller

  • Reef Hawg

  • Lixada Swimbait

  • #14 Rapala Shad Rap

  • Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow

  • #14 Rapala Husky Jerk

These 11 musky fishing lures will catch musky in every situation than an angler will encounter. Many will produce when both cast or trolled and they cover the entire water column.

1) Mepps Musky Killer

musky killer

Click this link to shop Amazon for Musky Killer spinners

The Mepps Musky Killer is an excellent musky fishing lure! It is a fairly light lure, weighing a little less than an ounce. It is quite long with bright, flashy colors. The Mepps Musky Killer has been around a long time and is a  proven musky lure. The lighter weight allows anglers to cast it longer without becoming fatigued. It will catch musky anywhere and will produce plenty of northern pike as well. Spinners have a lot of built in action and are easy to use as they produce on a steady retrieve.


2) Eppinger Daredevl


Click this link to shop Amazon for Daredevl spoons

The Eppinger Daredevl is another proven musky fishing lure. It is a spoon, which is a tremendous producer of musky and pike. Many anglers associate Daredevil spoons with pike fishing, but it is an effective musky lure as well. Most anglers go with the largest size, which is about 3 3/4 inches long and weighs an ounce. It is also fairly light compared to other musky lures, making it easy to cast for extended periods of time.

top musky lures

3) Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait


Click this link to shop Amazon for Pikee Spinnerbaits

The Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait is another lure that produces plenty of musky. It weighs just over one half an ounce. Again, lighter lures are easier to cast for longer periods of time. Most anglers go with bright, flashy colors which excite musky and hopefully produce a strike. Despite it’s smaller size, it will catch plenty of musky.

top 11 musky fishing lures

4) Musky Double Cowgirl

double cowgirl

Click this link to shop Amazon for Musky Double Cowgirl lure

This Musky Double Cowgirl lure manufactured by Musky Mayhem is another excellent musky fishing lure. It is stout and strongly built, which is important when chasing trophy musky. The Double Cowgirl is an easy lure to use, producing best with a steady retrieve. It is a larger bait at 10 inches long and weighing almost 3 ounces. The Musky Double Cowgirl puts out a ton of flash and vibration.

5) Whopper Plopper

whopper plopper

Click this link to shop Amazon for Whopper Plopper lures

The Whopper Plopper is a fairly new artificial lure. While designed for bass, the larger models will fool musky as well. It has a unique action as the tail acts like a propeller and puts out a lot of commotion. It will produce some exciting strikes! However, it is not quite as durable as some other musky lures.

6) Suick Thriller

suick thriller

Click this link to shop Amazon for Suick Thriller lures

The Suick Thriller was designed to catch musky a hundred years ago. It should be in the tackle box of all musky anglers. Models are available from 7′ to 10″ long. The Suick Thriller is basically a jerkbait and has no built in action, the angler has to create it by jerking sharply on the rod tip. It is a bit more difficult to fish than some other musky lures, but is worth learning the technique.

7) Reef Hawg

reef hawg

The Reef Hawg is termed a glide bait. Glide baits has fallen off of late in terms of popularity, but are still effective baits. They tend to fish deeper and are good choices when musky are staging in deeper water. Anglers can troll with them as well.

8) Lixada swimbait


Click this link to shop Amazon for Lixada swimbaits

The Lixada line of baits is in the family of swimbaits. This segmented lure puts out a very life-like action in the water. It works best in shallow water, particularly over submerged weeds. It is very large and has strong treble hooks. This is a big bait for serious musky anglers!

9) #14 Rapala Shad Rap

shad rap

Click this link to shop Amazon for Shad Raps

The Shad Rap in the 14 size is a large, deeper diving crankbait. It can be cast or trolled and is effective in both presentations. Yellow perch and fire tiger patterns are both proven musky colors. Crankbaits in general have a lot of built in action, making them great choices for novice anglers.

10) Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow

blitx bite

The Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow is another segmented swimbait. It is a large bait at 8 inches long and 3 ounces in weight. The Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow is a quality bait that puts out tremendous action, particularly at a slower pace. It is a good choice when musky are following a bait but not taking it.

11) #14 Rapala Husky Jerk

husky jerk

Click this link to shop Amazon for Husky Jerk lures

The Rapala Husky Jerk is a renowned lure in the family of jerk baits. Jerk baits are effective on a wide variety of species, and musky are no exception. The larges #14 size is best in most cases. Bright colors such as firetiger are proven patterns. Like all jerkbaits, the best retrieve is an erratic one with hard jerks followed by a pause.

Musky fishing tips

While musky are certainly not easy to catch, there are a few tips which will help anglers be more successful. Part of the allure and satisfaction of musky fish and is understanding how difficult and challenging they are to catch. It was easy, anyone could do it! Most anglers consider musky fish in the pinnacle of cold water freshwater fishing.

river fishing for musky

Most anglers with any experience musky fishing know about the “figure 8” technique. Musky are famous for following a lure all the way to the boat but not eating. At the end of each cast, anglers put their rod tip in the water and with the lure a few feet behind do several figure eights in the water. It is amazing how many musky have been hooked right at the boat using this technique.

Afternoons are best for musky fishing

Another helpful tip is to concentrate musky fishing on the prime times. For whatever reason, musky do not seem to feed well in the morning. Therefore, there is no need to get up at the crack of dawn and cast for an extra six hours. It is best to concentrate musky fishing in the afternoon hours as the light wanes. Cloudy, drizzly days are good as well.

Many anglers combine musky fishing with some other type of fishing. For example, they might get up at first light and through top water plugs for bass, then switch to jigging the bottom for walleye mid-day. After a good lunch and a nap, they can then hit the water hard for musky. Most anglers simply can’t cast these big heavy lures all day long. Therefore, it is best to maximize the opportunity and concentrate on the prime fishing times.

In conclusion, this article on the best musky fishing tackle will help anglers catch more of these incredible freshwater game fish!



Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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