BALANCING YOUR TACKLE !!!
Craig Sandell ©
|With all of the items on the
market meant to attract the attention of the Musky angler, it is
very easy to lose sight of the reason that all of these products are
available. The basic credo for Musky tackle is to balance your
tackle so that there are no weak links in your configuration. All of
the items available in the marketplace are there to
provide the Musky angler options. This article will offer you some perspective into
balancing your tackle. The reels, line, rods and leaders shown here are used for the
purpose of demonstration and are NOT and endorsement of the products.
||For many Musky anglers the first
tackle mystery is what reel to use. Anglers new to Musky fishing
sometimes make the mistake of thinking that they can use their bass,
crappie or walleye reels when fishing for Musky. Unless the reel you
are using is a heavy duty bait casting reel, you will need to go out
and invest in a good bait casting reel that has good line capacity.
My suggestion would be to make the reel dedicated to your Musky
Remember also that if you plan to setup more
than one rod you will need more than one musky reel. (Heavy duty spinning reels are OK if
you plan to use monofilament line.) The reel should have at least a 4.7:1 retrieve ratio
and should have a large retrieve handle like the one shown here. Reels run
from $55 to $130 depending upon where you buy them.
||Now that you have your reel, you will need some line...what
line to get? There are many new line materials available today. Many claim to be
indestructible. Frankly, no line is indestructible.
Although these new line materials offer smaller diameter,
they do not perform well under some applications. If you have ever tried to undo a
serious backlash of spectra fiber or Kevlar line you understand the problem.
If you use spectra line, you
need to change your casting technique so that you don't overpower your cast
and cause persistent backlashes.
The Musky fishing line of choice
for many years has been braided micron. This line
material does not stretch very much and so, it is good for lures from jerk
baits to suckers. Tuf-line, a spectra line, has been around for a few years
and has developed a good reputation. The Tuf-line Plus (pictured) is a
rounder line and has a smother finish which will resist fraying.
color line should you use?
As is the case with lure color, line color selection is almost
a religious experience. Consider though that
IF Musky can actually see the line in the water, they
would see it only as it passes overhead. If the sky is overcast or even blue, white line
would be the least visible to the Musky.
test should you use?
This also is a
matter of preference, however, you run the risk of being broken off with line weight under
25 pounds. The lighter the line weight the more likely it is to fray. If you have ever
lost a fish to a frayed line you probably retie your line every time you finish fishing a
spot (This includes Tuf-Line). If you're not doing that, you may have a great story for the bar
as I did in the 2009 Musky season. Consider 40 to 50 pound test line in Tuf-line for your light to medium rods and 40 pound test Micron for the rod you have setup for your
heavy jerk baits. You could also use the 80 pound Tuf-line Plus for all your
If you fish for Musky, you probably
use a leader. Solid, not braided, wire is usually the leader
material of choice and the wire should be stainless steel. What test
should the leader be? Wire under 174 pound test (.029 gauge) tends
to be prone to twisting and kinking while the heavier leader wire
tends to inhibit lure performance.
There are some good titanium leaders
available on the market. The tag ends of these leaders are secured
with a crimp...a potential weak link in the tackle chain.
What snap to use?
The snap should match the gauge of
the leader wire. It should be easy to unclasp for the purposes of
changing lures but have enough tensile strength to maintain its
clasp during a violent Musky encounter.
What about swivels?
Remember that a swivel is just one more link in the chain
that could fail. If you are using a bucktail you should probably use a swivel to prevent
your line from twisting. Twisted line makes your line prone to backlash. If you are going
to use a swivel, buy a good one. A good swivel may cost $1.50 each but it will
not let you down and it will stand up under hard use. If you go on the 'Cheap'
and buy the Berkley swivels, which are more suited to bass, you will regret
What size leader should you use?
Depending upon the lure you are using, lengths from 7 inches to 11 inches are good
choices. The smaller sizes for surface lures and bucktails and the larger size for jerk
And Then There Are Rods
||Finally I get to the fishing rod.
Rods also come in a variety of materials and sizes. Rod selection is
also a religious experience for many Musky anglers. There are some
standards that you might want to consider.
Composite rods of fiber glass
and graphite offer good backbone as well as the flexibility to properly play a fish
reluctant to be landed. Rod lengths from 6 feet to 7 feet are pretty standard with the
shorter and more stout rod being used to throw the jerk bait. If you're not sure, 6½
to 7 feet
is usually a safe bet. There is a lot of hype about using a 7½', 8' and even
9' rods. Cal Johnson caught his World Record on a 5'9" rod...you be the
||Remember that your rod is going to be attached to you for the
better part of your Musky fishing day. For that reason, the handle and grip are areas of key concern. Each
of us is different and so it stands to reason that when it comes to fishing rods:
DOES NOT FIT ALL.
Buying your rod from a catalog is a lot like buying shoes through the
mail. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. Go to a sport shop or tackle shop
where you can "see, touch and feel". Handles should be around 20 inches from the
rod butt to the end of the grip in front of the reel mounting area. (14" of
15" butt and 6" foregrip.)
|Your rod is going to be wet all of the time so make
sure all metal parts are stainless steel. The rod tip line guide should be made of one
solid piece without an insert.
Inserts will dislodge regardless of what the sales person
tells you and you will be left with a useless rod.
I have given you a lot to think about and
encourage you to do just that before you spend your hard earned cash. When you are in the
middle of thousands of acres of water, the last thing you need is bad line, a cheap rod, an
anemic reel, and a bent leader.
Spend the time to plan your fishing approach and then
match your tackle to that approach. Don't be hesitant to ask other Musky fishermen
questions or to ask to see their tackle. As is the case in most things we do in life; we
learn by doing
..so it is with Musky fishing.