Crankbaits & Jerkbaits
Shallow Water Crankbaits
The crankbaits that are made for shallow water muskie fishing will be very effective for muskie when they are in the shallows. Get out the baitcasting gear and start casting these lures all over the shallows in the spring time and you will catch some muskie.
Deep Water Crankbaits
When the muskie go deep, it’s tough to beat a deep diving crankbait. Some of these crankbaits are huge, so it’s going to be a workout casting these all day. When you need a break, troll with these deep diving crankbaits and you can catch some very big muskie.
Jerkbaits can be very effective for muskie. They may not be top choice for many muskie anglers, however, muskie eat fish and a big wounded bait fish is very appealing to a muskie. Work the jerkbaits in with an erratic jerk and pause retrieve and don’t be shocked when you get some bites very close to the boat.
Bass jigs are great baits for muskie. Most anglers will add a swimming trailer such as a grub, small swimbait or swimming worm to these jigs. Swim them slow and steady around shallow water cover and in the better deep water spots and you will catch some muskie.
Bucktails are the simplest musky bait you can use. Simply cast and retrieve. If you want the bait to run high in the water, right up near the surface, start your retrieve the very instant the lure hits the water. If you want the bucktail to run a bit deeper, let the lure sink for just an instant and then begin the retrieve. As the water temperature continues to warm, you can speed up your retrieve, letting the blade of the bucktail break the surface occasionally, causing a ruckus that should pique a hungry musky’s attention.
Inline spinners are great lures for so many species of fish and they work for muskie too. You can catch some muskie on the smaller inline spinners that most anglers use for bass and northern pike throughout the entire open water fishing season, however, the spring time is the best time to use these smaller lures for muskie. At times, these spinners can score big after cold fronts and on highly pressured lakes where most anglers are throwing bigger baits. Don’t rule them. They catch muskie.
Spinnerbaits are great baits for muskie. Many bass and pike anglers realize that a spinnerbait fished in muskie country will get plenty of muskie bites. Some anglers like to use the spinnerbaits with extra blades and they like to add trailers to their spinnerbaits to give them a bigger presence. You have a lot of options with all the different spinnerbaits on the market and you can fish them shallow, deep and everywhere in between.
Spoons & Blade Baits
Blade baits will work for muskie. Some of the bigger blade baits will get plenty of bites from muskie with a steady retrieve. Some anglers fish for muskie over deeper water with a vertical jigging technique and blade baits can get the job done when fishing for muskie.
Casting spoons can be good for muskie. They are considered a better northern pike bait, but muskie will also hit a spoon. Go with the bigger spoons to help attract more muskie to your bait.
Big jigging spoons are great for targeting muskie in deeper water. Just vertical jig them with an erratic jig and pause retrieve and you should be able to catch some muskie. These are great baits for the summer and fall when muskie are deep.
Trolling spoons are made for trolling and they will work well for muskie. Anglers usually report the bigger fish coming on the larger crankbaits when trolling, but you can get plenty of action with a trolling spoon and big fish are possible too.
Swimbaits have also created quite a buzz among the muskie fishing community like they did to the bass fishing community over the past few years. Swimbaits are great baits for muskie and sometimes, presenting a more, natural looking bait, like a swimbait, is the only artificial lure that will get a muskie to actually commit to striking an artificial lure.
There are plenty of swimbaits on the market and the nice thing about some of the smaller ones is that you can also catch some nice walleye, pike and bass while you fish for muskie. Once you go to the bigger swimbaits, you’re looking at mostly just pike and muskie that will be eating your bait.
During late summer and fall, don’t be afraid to throw those real big swimbaits. They work well, although, they can be costly once a big muskie ruins your $50 lure. $50 for a 50 inch muskie??? I think most experienced muskie anglers would take that trade.
Large Curly Tail Grubs
Most anglers don’t think of using curly tail grubs for muskie fishing, but the larger grubs can be very effective for muskie. A large grub rigged on a jighead, swimbait hook, Florida rig, spinner rig or a shaky head jig will work well with a steady retrieve. You can cast them or troll with them. Both methods will be effective. Finding big grubs might be the challenge but there are some companies out there that make them up to 10 inches and maybe even bigger specifically for muskie anglers.
Swimming Worms aren’t very popular for muskie fishing, but many of the bass anglers have reported some nice catches of muskie on a swimming worm. The paddle tail action of the swimming worm lifted to the left of this page will actually look more like a bait fish than a worm in the water. Some of the large curly tail worms have some very good action on a steady retrieve which helps get muskie excited to come take a closer look and possibly strike your bait. This bait may not be as popular as some other muskie baits, but it will catch plenty of muskie if you give it a chance to work.
The big soft plastic tube baits work great for muskie. Work them on a weightless rig or just a big split shot for the shallow water muskie and you can use your favorite deep water rig to fish them deeper. Tubes are definitely not one of the more popular muskie baits, but they work great and plenty of anglers do use them.
There is definitely a time and place for catching muskies on topwater lures. Most of thtime, you are going to have your success when water temperatures rise above 60 degrees and you’ll be fishing water 8 to 10 feet deep or less. There are exceptions to this, but if you stick to shallow water with warmer water temperatures, you’re going to have more success.
Muskie will definitely come up and hit a topwater lure. There are plenty of different baits on the market. Stickbaits, crawlers, propbaits and buzzbaits will all work for muskie.
Unlike bass, muskie prefer to attack the bait while it’s on the move. A nice, steady retrieve for most of the topwater lures will provide plenty of strikes. These baits have great action right out of the box. It’s just your job to make the hundreds of necessary casts to put it in front of an active muskie. Morning, evening, overcast days and night time are the best times to get a muskie to come up for a topwater lure.
Some good shallow water spots to fish are points, weedlines, protected bays and woody cover.