I can’t promise you a muskie article based on 30 years of experience, heck I am barely 23. But what I can give you instead is knowledge from a culmination of all the days, back-breaking, wrist falling off, exhausted and worn, that I have spent thus far muskie chasing.

My first day muskie fishing, in May of 2015, I caught two muskies in an hour. Admittedly it was dumb luck, but the research I did beforehand led me to those fish and I hope for nothing more than to inspire you to get out and cast.

I will go more in-depth with articles as time passes, but to keep it simple I want to first share my top three muskie baits, how and when to work them, and some other considerations to keep in mind to help you catch the ole toothies.



Plastics—more specifically Mid & Mini Medussas.

Why I Like Them: Some of hardest days muskie fishing I can remember dealt with chucking big plastic baits over my shoulder on a 9 foot XXH rod. I was always told to “go big or go home”, and there was no way I was going home. So I bought the biggest of each kind and had a battle of physical fortitude.  Later I realized I could still have all the benefits of plastic and not throw out my shoulders. The Mini and Mid-Medussas are the smaller versions which I use more frequently than 50% of the baits in my box.

How To Work Them: There are three main ways I like to work these baits: Straight retrieve, pull and reel, and lastly, jigging and popping.

Straight Retrieve: For the straight retrieve, cast out and let it sink, and sink, and sink. Keep the rod tip pointed down towards the water and reel in. Occasionally throw a quick snap down into the water with the rod tip to get an extra quick flair of the legs.

Pull & Reel: The second way is to sweep your rod to the side, and bring it back forward while continuing to reel the line. What this does is make that bait run-run-run, and then fall.

Jigging & Popping: The last way I work these baits works best in the late summer and fall since it really slows down the presentation. Hold your rod tip up slightly and jig or “pop” the medussa once, twice and then reel down to pick up your line and repeat.

When & Where to Use Them: While using plastic for every species is a surefire way to find bites, fishing mid-summer to fall with Medussas is when that muskie plastic really shines. Working them along a weed line is always a staple, but too I find plastic worked over sunken islands surrounded by deep water has produced some of my best fish.

Quick Tip: Something to keep in mind everytime you let your plastic drop, is to pick up your line quickly. Reel fast because if a muskie hits as the bait is falling you might miss the hookset if you have too much slack line. I only know this from more than a couple painful misses from the only bite of the day.


Glidebaits—Phantoms & Hellhounds

Why I Like Them: Outside of topwater baits, I find few lures are more fun to work than a glidebait, especially in clear water. Watching your lure dance side to side only to see it disrupted by a large open muskie mouth is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Again, more often than not, I pick up the smaller size as it is less cumbersome and quickly reacts to everything I do with my rod.  A glidebait itself is erratic. Left and right swings that are near 180 degrees from each other. I find that muskies cannot handle the constant swings of the lure “turning on them”.

How To Work Them: The rhythm of a glidebait is versatile and you can choose how long to “let it hang” before picking up your line for another sweep. Making sure you know how to work them, however, is vital. If you follow up one hard sweep by another too quickly without picking up the line the action is affected. In colder water I let it pause for just a second or two longer than I would in warmer water as muskies are more lethargic. This lingering is when a lot of strikes occur.

When & Where to Use Them: I use glidebaits nearly year round. In the summer I prefer Hellhounds worked hard and fast to keep the bait shallower and let the aggressive muskies have at it. In the summer I find a good weedline next to deep water (typical muskie location) and start casting parallel to the weedline. If that doesn’t produce, I run out just a little deeper to the drop off and cast parallel and inwards to the weedline.

For the early spring and fall, I like to snap on a Phantom with a soft tail and let it sink. Then begin a slow, methodical sweep of my rod, and add one or two quick sweeps here and there. Spring and fall I try to find the first weeds or the last remaining weeds of the year.

Using your sonar is a good way to do this, but it also doesn’t hurt to cast a heavy lure (like a big plastic), for a few casts to catch some of those weeds on your treble hooks. If they are brown and dead/dying, I move on. Dead and dying weeds suck oxygen from the water and fish typically steer clear.

Quick Tip(s): The best way I found to master this is to find a lake with clear water, cast out and do not let your glidebait sink. Work it as close to the surface as possible to watch what each rod action does.  Also, for both Hellhounds and Phantoms I always make sure I have a little bit of superglue and some small crappie twisty tails to stick on in the case of a muskie ripping the current one off.


Double Bucktails—Lllungen DC series, Any Spinner with Bucktail

Why I Like Them: My very first muskie came on a Nebraska lake, burning a double bladed spinner and many, many of my biggest fish have followed suit. The flash and thump of blades, no matter the water, fools muskies time and time again. My biggest fish in every state I have muskie fished came on a double bucktail.

You may be wondering now why are double bucktails #3 on this list of my top muskie baits—They are extremely hard to throw all day. Because of this, wanting to throw confidence baits all day, and not drinking enough milk as a kid (sorry mom), over my short time muskie fishing, my wrists nearly cannot take it. Which is why I switched to throwing plastic and glidebaits over double bladed spinners. This, however, does not have to be the case for you and it is really all in the reel.

How To Work Them: Burn, baby burn! The faster you reel that blade the more reaction you get from muskies. Even with wrists of steel and a hyper-speed gear ratio reel (think 7.6.1), you could not burn that bait too fast for a muskie in the right conditions.

Personally, though, I would not recommend a reel with a ratio that high. A lower gear ratio reel (less line put on the spool per rotation of the handle) means makes pulling in blades slower, but with less strain on your wrist. I find a reel with a 5.3.1 ratio comfortable while still letting the blades burn when reeled quickly.

Even though in order to keep the blades spinning, you cannot add a ton of action to blades, I still like to jerk my rod tip down in the water with a quick wrist motion to get some extra flair from the skirt or bucktail.


When & Where to Use Them: Double bucktails can really be used year round. I hear stories of anglers who never put them down, even in 40-degree water. However, I like to use them in spring and summer mainly right when the water temp hits 65 degrees all the way up to when I stop fishing for muskies at 80 degrees. Focus on points, weedlines, and underwater weedbeds.

Even if there are only a few inches of water above dense weedbeds, make your cast and start retrieving immediately. When fishing on points, try sitting shallow and casting out deep. Let your bucktail sink. Then, give your rod a quick pop and reel till you feel the drag of the blades spinning and reel in slow at first, then closer to the boat speed up. This gives the illusion of a baitfish coming in from deeper water to find cover shallow.

Quick Tip: I find muskies tend to follow double bucktails more than anything else I throw. When the muskies follow, no matter if they are nose to the bait, or lazily following behind, I speed up. Burn the reel, use those quick rod tip jerks and get ready for a big, wide figure 8.

Without sounding long-winded, I really hope this article, my favorite three baits and any tips I could give you in using them, help you in your quest for muskie. The fish of 10,000 casts is more than worth every cast!

Tightlines everyone!


About The Author

Die-hard muskie & trout angler with a passion. Kayak fishing, Hybrid chasing, Sunrise ↠ Sunset, http://nebraskamuskiegirl.com

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One Response

  1. Lauren

    Erin, you need to get one of these!! http://outdoorgrips.com
    I LOVE throwing cowgirls all day and getting a jig ripper changed my life! Saves your hand and wrist from holding the reel. I’ll never go back!