Why do Muskie anglers use more than one
are many reasons but the main reason relates directly to the lures we use.
If you have fished for Muskie for a couple of years, you have accumulated a
few different lures…you undoubtedly have bucktails, crankbaits, jerkbaits and
perhaps surface baits. Each of the lures come in different sizes and weights and
each requires a different presentation technique. The difference in the
lures dictates different rod, reel and line selections in order to
accommodate the different demands upon lure presentations.
This article will try to set some general guidelines for
line, rod and reel selection for each of lure types. First, however, we need
to discuss rod loading.
What the heck is a rod loading?
Rod loading refers to the transfer of the casting momentum
from your arm to the rod and from the rod to the lure. The stiffness of the
rod, the flexibility of the rod tip and the weight of the line and the lure
will all have an effect upon the loading of the rod. A good match of rod
weight, line weight and lure weight combined with a good casting technique,
will result in the maximum transfer of casting momentum from your arm to the
lure…resulting in good casting distance and lure placement control.
For example; if you have a heavy weight rod with a "broom
stick" backbone without a flexible rod tip and you are using a bait casting
reel loaded with 40 pound micron line, you are not going to get much casting
efficiency or control if you try to cast a ½ ounce bucktail. Conversely, if
you have a light weight rod with a flexible rod tip and a reel loaded with
50 pound TUF line, you are going to have a problem trying to cast a 3½ ounce
jerkbait. In the first instance the rod will not transfer your casting
momentum and in the second instance the rod will ‘overload’ and negate
casting momentum and lure placement control.
You can begin to see that your tackle configuration is
directly related to your casting and presentation success.
As a visual example of rod loading, the seven pictures
shown below will provide some perspective. (The pictures are courtesy of
John Dettloff from his book
Water Tactics and Tales.)
Armed with a perspective of rod loading, lets discuss the
approach to different lure types:
In very general terms, the bucktail is a light weight lure
with a very uncomplicated presentation…You cast it out and reel it in.
The rod you use should be at least 6½ or 7 feet in length.
Because you are not casting a heavy lure, the rod should be on the "light
weight" side with a medium backbone for a good hook set and a flexible rod
tip for maximum rod loading.
The 6½ or 7 foot rod length in a nominal length. With it
you can get a good loading of the rod and good casting control. A longer rod
may work better for a boat side figure eight but you have to be careful not
to overload the rod with a heavy bucktail like the large Eagletail or
Suggestion: Layout all of the bucktails in which you have
confidence. Get the rod that you have designated as your bucktail rod. Get
the reel that you want to use (at least a 4.7:1 ratio) and load it with the
line of your choice. Cast each of your bucktails with the rod/reel
combination to be sure that the lure casts well and that you are able to
accurately place the lure where you want it to be…Remember that you want to
fight the Musky not the rod.
Traditionally, these types of lures are usually used with
a heavier weight of rod and heavier line. With the advent of spectra line,
heavier line is less used than in the past and therefore a more streamlined
rod can be used. As with the bucktail rod, 6½ or 7 feet is a good nominal
length but the rod should be a medium weight rod. The heavier weight rod
will make it easier to handle the action of a crankbait. The real
consideration here is the weight of the lure. This type of nominal rod setup
will support most medium sized crankbaits and jerkbaits. If you are tossing
heavier lures, like the Bull Dawg, you will need to setup a heavier rod with
line that has a tensile strength of 80 pound spectra or 40 pound braided
Suggestion: As with the bucktails, layout all of the
crank/twitch/jerk baits in which you have confidence and cast each using the
rod and reel you have chosen. Make sure that the rod does not under or over
load and test your casts for accuracy. Ensure that the lure action during
retrieve meets you expectation.
These lures tend to run a bit heavier than a bucktail and
a bit lighter than a crank/twitch/jerk bait. With today’s spectra lines, you
can probably use a rod of medium weight and backbone with a flexible tip. I
would recommend the use of a reel with a 6.3:1 retrieve speed. This will
provide you the flexibility to easily vary the action of the lure during the
retrieve. The length can also be 6½ or 7 feet.
Suggestion: As with the other two types of lures, layout
the lures in which you have confidence and cast each to be sure that you are
getting the action you expect and the accuracy you require.
I have tried to give you some general guidelines for
rod/reel/lure configuration. I recognize that the nominal approaches
discussed may not be effective using very light or very heavy lures. You
will have to experiment with some different configurations to discover which
will most compliment your fishing approach.
Talk to other Musky anglers and ask them how they deal
with different lure and rod weights.
As a closing consideration, remember that you are going to
be on the water casting for a good part of each fishing day. Heavier rods
are harder to cast for long periods but lighter rods may not give you the
control and hook set that you need.
There is more to Musky fishing than just picking up any
rod and reel and lure. Having a plan of attack and complimenting that attack
with balanced tackle will increase your odds of success on the water.