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.
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 rods
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best musky fishing lures
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.
1) Mepps Musky Killer
The Mepps Musky Killer is aptly named! It is number one on our list of top X musky fishing lures. In terms of musky Lures, it is fairly light, coming in at a little less than an ounce. It is 7 inches long. The Mepps Musky Killer is a legend amongst veteran musky anglers. It will catch fish and just about every situation and in any location. It is large enough to attract trophy musky while being light enough to cast for hours at a time.
This is a very versatile lure. It can be fished on or near the surface or as deep as 10 feet. The Musky Killer can be cast or trolled. It will catch fish in all seasons as well. They come in a wide variety of color patterns to match the local forage. In the waning light of late afternoon, a gold blade with a brown and orange tail is a good all-around combination.
One great thing about the Musky Killer is that it is very easy to use. The blades rotate easily, putting out a lot of flash and vibration. All the angler does is cast out, allow it to sink to the desired depth, then reel it back in using a steady rhythmic retrieve. As with all fishing, angler should vary the speed until a productive pattern emerges.
2) Eppinger Daredevil
The Eppinger Daredevil is another iconic fishing lure. While most anglers associate it with northern pike, is extremely effective on musky as well. Most anglers go with the 1 ounce size, which is about 3 3/4 inches long. Like the Mepps lure above, it is relatively light in terms of a musky lure. This makes it fairly easy to cast for a long period of time. Some may consider it a nuisance, but as an added bonus it will catch plenty of northern pike along the way.
These spoons have a lot of built in action, making them easy to use for most anglers. The lure is cast out and allowed to sink a few seconds, then reeled back in using a steady retrieve, with some twitches and pauses in between. Again, the retrieve should be varied until a bite occurs. It is fairly versatile, and can be used over submerged weed beds, along weed lines, and even deeper around structure breaks such as channel edges and points.
The old school red and white daredevil spoon has caught a lot of fish over the decades. It is still a good choice for musky today. However, some anglers have gone to some of the more modern colors and finishes. Silver is a good choice on sunny days while gold works best on cloudy days and under other low light conditions. It is a versatile and durable bait that should be in every musky anglers tackle box!
3) Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait
The Booyah Pikee Spinnerbait is another very productive musky fishing lure. Again, this is a fairly light baits coming in at just over one half an ounce. This makes it a great choice for anglers who prefer to use spinning tackle or don’t have the stamina to cast a heavy lure all day long. Don’t let the size for you, it will catch plenty of trophy musky!
Most anglers choose models with bright colors. It has large blades which put out a lot of flash and vibration. This bait is specifically designed by Booyah for musky fishing, therefore it is a bit more durable than other baits made for bass and pike. It is a fairly easy lure to use with a ton of built in action. Steady retrieve’s work best in a can be worked throughout the entire water column. Spinner baits are also a bit more weedless than spoons and in line spinners, making them an excellent choice and heavier weeds.
4) Musky Double Cowgirl
This bait made by Musky Mayhem is another excellent musky lure with a proven track record. It is very durable and built to last and is one of the best spinners for musky. It is number four on the list of top X musky fishing lures. This is an excellent bait for novice anglers as it has a ton of built in action and all that is required to catch fish is a slow steady retrieve.
This is a larger bait, coming in at around 10 inches long and weighing close to 3 ounces. The pair of blades put out a ton of flash and vibration, even at slower speeds. It is an excellent lure to try when the sun is out and the musky are a bit less aggressive. It is excellent when fished over and through submerged weed beds as well is around other cover such as sunken trees and submerged rock piles.
5) Whopper Plopper
The Whopper Plopper is a relative newcomer to the fishing game, compared to some of these other old-school baits. However, it is extremely effective. This is a top water lure. It puts out a ton of commotion on the surface due to its concave face along with the action of the tail.
These baits are very effective at pulling fish out of deeper weed beds. It is an excellent choice in the summer time when water temperatures are a bit higher. The commotion of this bait will draw some heart stopping strikes! If there is one drawback to this lure, it is that it is not as durable as some others. However, this will not be an issue when a trophy musky grabs!
6) Suick Thriller
The Suick Thriller has been around almost a century. It truly is one of the original musky fishing lures and belongs in every serious musky anglers tackle box. It is a proven veteran still catches plenty of fish to this day. The Suick Thriller comes in several different sizes, ranging from 7 inches long to 10 inches long. Unlike some other lures, the Suick Thriller does not have much built in action, the angler must impart it to the lure.
This is basically a jerk bait. It is very effective when ripped through weed beds and is a very durable bait as well. It is perhaps not the best choice for novice anglers, as it does take a bit of practice to master the rhythmic retrieve that is required to catch fish. However, the effort put in to learn how to use this bait will pay off with trophy musky.
7) Reef Hawg
The Reef Hawg is in the family of glide baits. They are not as popular as they used to be, but are still very effective. This lure is made to work deeper than some of the other lures listed above. They can be used for both casting and trolling and are a good choice in cooler months when there is less weed growth and the fish have moved a bit deeper.
8) Lixada swimbait
This segmented, multi-jointed lure is a bit of a combination between a crank bait in a swim bait. These segments cause a to swim in a very lifelike manner. The bait sinks slow enough that it can be worked both near the surface and at deeper depths. It is a very durable bait with large, quality treble hooks.
In most instances, a slow steady retrieve a few feet below the surface works best. This is particularly true over submerged weed beds. The flash in action are astounding and this is a proven musky lure. This is a big bait, coming in at a full foot long and almost half a pound. Smaller versions of this lure are available, too.
9) #14 Rapala Shad Rap
This large crank bait is a very productive musky fishing lure that is popular with many anglers. It is a heavy bait and is effective when both cast and trolled. The yellow perch and fire tiger patterns work well. It has a lot of built in action. A slow steady retrieve with some hard jerks and pauses generally works best. Slow trolling with this bait is very effective in the wintertime.
10) Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow
The Blitz Bite Jointed Minnow is another very lifelike swim bait style lure. Anglers can tell from the first glance at it is a quality bait. It is 8 inches long and weighs 3 ounces. Like most of these lures in this family, a slow steady retrieve works best. The lure will swim through the water in a very natural manner. The bait is made from plastic and is fairly durable, all things considered.
11) #14 Rapala Husky Jerk
Rapala is the name in the industry when it comes to jerk baits. It is no exception when it comes to musky fishing as well. That is why the #14 Husky Jerk finishes off the list of the top 11 musky fishing lures. This is a long and slender bait that is fairly easy to cast and work all day. It comes in a variety of colors, with gold and fire tiger being proven finishes.
The key to the effectiveness of this lure is its ability to suspend in the water column. The angler retrieves the bait for a few feet then twitch is it hard followed by a pause. During this pause, the bait hangs there, seemingly motionless and helpless. This is often times when the fish attacks! It works well when either cast or troll. It also has a rattle and it as well.
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.
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.
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!