Tools For Survival
Craig Sandell 2010


Every Muskie angler has tools that he brings with him. Having the right tools when you are out on the water is just as important as having the right tackle. Tools come in two categories, the tools for the boat and the tools for the Muskie you catch. Some tools fall into both categories.

Assorted ToolsBoat Tools

Remember that when you are on the water, you are essentially alone. For that reason, your tool selection should provide you some measure of self reliance. The tools pictured here are what I consider to be the bare minimum. These tools are a channel lock pliers, long nose pliers, regular pliers and a screw driver/wrench set.

Why do you need these tools?

Some times mechanical things have a bad habit of coming loose when they are subjected to continuous vibrations like those from an outboard motor. You may find yourself changing a shear pin or removing a cotter pin or tightening trolling motor mounts or adjusting depth finder transducers. All of these things have happened to others while on the water and they will, eventually, happen to you too. Be prepared by having some tools to help you make some on-the-spot repairs until you can get to shore.

Tools For Muskie

Hookout & Glove As a Muskie angler you should always have a landing net, so we will not dwell on the obvious. The tools shown here are what we consider essential for safety for the Muskie as well as the Muskie angler. You will need a hook out tool, a good set of channel lock pliers, long nose pliers, a landing glove and most importantly compound bolt cutters. You should NEVER leave the dock without compound bolt cutters. The picture here shows the hand held compound bolt cutters that I use. It is a light weight tool that can be operated with one hand. It has an anodized finish to minimize rusting and it allows you to be able to apply the required leverage to a double strength treble hook to cut it without having to shake it or twist it as you have to do with heavy duty side cutters or wire cutters.

This ability to cleanly and quickly cut through a hook is very important when the hook you are trying to cut is in your hand or your arm or your thumb. It is even more important if that hook or another hook on the lure is also attached to a thrashing 15 or 20 pound Muskie. It has happened to others and the odds are that it may eventually happen to you.

Compound bolt cutters like the one shown here are between $18 and $30.

That may seem like a lot to spend on some bolt cutters, however, when you are alone in the middle of 10,000 acres of water attached to a lure that is also attached to a Muskie, you will come to see how inexpensive they really are.

Compound bolt cutters protect not only the angler but also the Musky. A badly hooked fish needs to have hooks removed as safely as possible...the compound bolt cutter makes that possible

Split Ring Pliers If you have not yet added split rings to all of your Muskie lures, then you should consider doing so. Adding a split ring to your lures will reduce the leverage that a Muskie can apply during your next Muskie tug-of-war. It will also make it easy for you to replace hooks that have been straightened, blunted or disfigured in some way as the result of the "mechanics" of Muskie fishing. You will need to get yourself a split ring pliers. The one pictured here at the left is not very expensive (under $5.00), has a nickel plated finish to prevent rust and is relatively easy to use. There are more expensive version, however their increased cost is no assurance of any better performance.

You will also need a file for the purpose of sharpening the hooks on your lures. You have choices when it comes to files. The yellow handled file shown here at the right is probably the most common hook file. It is usually under $4.00 and will allow you to put an edge on your hooks. The black handled dual element rounded file is also readily available. It performs very well and can put an edge on your hooks very quickly. It usually costs under $12.00.

One Last Little Piece of Advice

For the Muskie angler that fishes alone, make sure that you can easily get to the tools that you have brought with you. Do Not put them in your tackle box; they will only get embrangled with your tackle. Try using a small shaving kit bag. These bags have nylon zippers that will not rust and come in sizes large enough for hand tools. They also usually have a carrying strap that you can use to tie a tether between it and the boat.