Making sense of muskie fishing’s three essential bait options
THE GEAR YOU NEED
Whichever way you refer to them, you’ll have the most success fishing dive-and-rise lures, glide baits and twitch baits using an eight-foot, heavy- or extra-heavy-action rod with a high-speed reel (see below). As a general rule, nine-foot (and even longer) muskie rods are prized these days. I love and use them, too, depending on the situation. But when you’re presenting these three critically important muskie lure styles, which require hand manipulation and slack line to impart action, you’re best off with a slightly shorter stick.
You’ll also want an eight-to 10-inch, 174-pound-test, single-strand wire leader, without a swivel. This stiff leader will transfer every wrist and arm movement you impart to the rod tip directly to the lure. It will also slice through the water so well that your lure will move like it owns the bloody lake, putting every muskie on notice.
It’s important to remove the heavy swivel, or else it will absorb energy meant to provide action to your lure, causing the front of the leader to sag and sink on the pause. Removing the swivel also eliminates an unnecessary pivot point, so that the only hinge is in front of your bait. And since these lures sway from side to side or dive and rise—but never spin—the big bulky swivel is totally unnecessary.
What is necessary, though, is having just the right combination of rod, reel, leader and lure, especially when you may only get one or two chances, on most days, at a knee-knocker of a muskie.
BONUS TIP: RAPID REEL
Fast-action reels (7:1 to 9:1) are tailor-made for presenting lures that twitch, glide or dive and rise. That’s because they can quickly retrieve slack with just one or two turns of the handle. You want slower reels for most other toothy critter baits—including those with big blades—but when you need to quickly pull in slack, a fast-action reel is key.