Muskie fisherman is looking for a better Muskie lure
and any new lure that comes along will be bought and tried. Seems we are looking for a
better "mouse trap" even though we have several....its the same in
Over the years we have bought any new lure that came out, be
it a Muskie lure or bass lure. My pet hobby was to make larger size lures of the bass
lures to use them to catch Muskie. The extra large Muskie lures were made by making hand
made models to the size required for the ultimate spin fishing. We found it wasn't the
size of the lure but the action.
Early spring walleye fishing taught us that big
take the smallest of lures. During early spring you fish before the weeds come up and
therefore you can take chances.
While fishing the water under the falls up river from the
mouth of the Oswegotohee river, I hooked a 22 pounder on six pound line using a
black jig. Only problem was a three inch long leader and fast current.
One day we were jigging the tail end of Chimney Island on the
"Larry" [St. Lawerence] when I hooked a 42 pound Muskie on six pound line using
a six inch leader and a half ounce yellow jig. With the weeds still not growing, in a
matter of over a half hour I landed measured and tagged this Muskie.
Fishing in the Keys for bonefish using six pound line and
casting a ¼ ounce jig, I hooked a barracuda l9 ½ pounds and landed the tiger of the
salt water flats. Fly fishing out of the flats one day I hooked a 12 ½ pound tarpon on a
trout size streamer fly and a twelve round tippet. I mention these catches to point out
that the size of your lure will not hinder a feeding fish from hitting a small lure. In my
opinion, fish don't see things large or small, just as food. I have found June Bug beetles
in Muskie stomachs, crawfish 1 ½ inches in length and a Muskie thirty inches long on the
Delaware had Japanese, beetles in his mouth when I landed him. Took him on a streamer fly
fishing for trout.
After I got a new lure I put it to the test. Studied its
action, then back to the work shop where I would design my own models. I had a cellar full
of one inch square cedar wood cut to six inch lengths and some two inches square. The
bigger sizes were for all hand whittled lures and the one inch was for wood lath turned
I found the Swim Whizz was a top Muskie catcher in my hand
made size models which I made to fish down to a four pound line. The hand made models ran
all the way to ½ ounce using only one treble hook. The four and five inch models worked
well in casting and as well as in trolling. I found by adding a metal lip to the head I
could troll the lure to twenty feet. My lips were designed to be taken off and I used the
double hook up loops to slip through the lip and just fish with them without being
anchored permanently. To cast I would just remove the metal lip.
Pikie minnow plugs were revamped the same. Cisco plugs could
be redesigned to do wonders and the revised models in both lures took their toll in
Muskie. No lure went by without my experimenting with revised models. Many were flops but
some times by combining two features of two different lure manufacturers, I came
super action lures.
The waterdog was a perfect deep diving lure that dug fish
from the gravel beds in twenty feet of water. The manufacturer's models were just a bit
too small and frail for Muskie but having caught Muskie to forty pounds on all their
models, I designed some out of cedar wood that totaled three quarters of an ounce that
made trolling a pleasure racking up many Muskie.
In spinners, I would change them to two blade spinners and
have even had success using a Marathon spinner with three blades one behind the other. Had
good result with the June-Bug spinners by using a two blade system on the same lure.
Instead of the bare hook I would add a treble bucktail and caught Muskie in the thirty
With Marathon coming out with the rattle spoon I made a super
lure by placing two spoons, one behind the other, and added a hook between the two spoons.
No Muskie was safe where I could use this combination. It could be fished a lot slower in
open water and it produced Muskie.
In making my hand made lures I would cover the wood with
three coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly and sand between coats. Base
paints were yellow, white, silver or light green. Some were all black for night fishing
with green stripes slashed across the body at a slight angle. These were for dark nigh
fishing. On the yellow and white base colors I would stripe them the same way with black
stripes. On the silver I would stripe them the full length a quarter inch black stripe to
give the lure a striped minnow effect. I never went to fancy painting because I found my
combinations were catching all the Muskie I needed.
Later I designed the "Muskie bug" plug using the
same basic color combination only in having them manufactured we had to go to injection
molding because wooden plugs cost a fortune to produce. In plastic injection molding you
could have them made at 72 cents each. Hand made wood; $2.00 each.
If you are thinking of going into the lure business let me
set you straight. There is very little profit in a single lure. It is a volume business.
My Muskie bug sold to the consumer for $3.00. Sounds like a lot of money. Advertising cost
$2,000 for a single two inch add in three different outdoor publications. Cost of 10,00
lures; $7,200. UPS delivery on these lures $165. Add to this l2 cents Federal excise tax
on each lure in those days. Cost of plastic box to ship it in 8 cents each. Shipping
individual lures 22 cents each. So when I sold it to consumers directly, I made 81 cents.
Jobbers you sold on a 50% - 10% and 2% and waited well over the thirty days to collect
your money and they still took the 2% for cash over thirty days. You made close to a half
dollar per lure and hoped you would eventually get your money. So you see its a tough game
to go into, and Muskie lures are limited to less than 5% of all the fishermen. Now bass
lures are different. 95% of the fishermen fish bass at some time or another and bass lures
sell. But here again the profit per lure will come under 25 cents. If you are considering
the lure business better have enough money to carry you until sales start coming in. Even
with all the publicity we had created in the Muskie world, we couldn't realize a profit
and had to eat many of our lures we couldn't sell and sold to discount houses to get our
Making your own lures is rewarding. From scratch you design a
lure and it takes fish. But when you make one that takes Muskie you get the feeling you
have reached the ultimate of success. When your lures start catching Muskie over forty
pounds, you figure you have the secret weapon. Truth is, a plain piece of a branch of wood
with a treble tied on it will take Muskie sooner or later. In my opinion, its not the lure
but the action and presenting it at the right place at the right time. Making your own
lures and copying manufactured models is quite rewarding and keeps one from losing touch
with his Muskie fishing over the winter months. Try it.