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Picking The Right Rod For Muskie

From: Len Hartman 2000 - All Rights Reserved


lenlight.jpg (10015 bytes)If you are a newcomer to Muskie fishing it's easy to pick a rod to catch Muskie with. If you are a regular Muskie fisherman, you are too set in your ways to make a change and nothing will convince you otherwise. But just for the heck of it, try a lighter rod one day, and notice with what ease you will be fishing and at the end of the day you won't feel so tired out.

The jerk bait fisherman relies on a short stiff rod and his arms to catch his Muskie. As he gets older he soon goes to a lighter longer rod and wonders why his stubbornness didn't allowed him to change sooner. Jerk baits, being the bigger heavier type lures, one gets the idea that a five foot rod is the way to go. Now I have used the Suick lures and because of their weights soon whittled my size Suick plug. I found a five inch lure weighing three quarters of an ounce was perfect for my needs and took some good size Muskie on them. As I recall, a 37 pounder was my limit, but the possibilities were there, it is just that I didn't allow enough fishing time with the lure. I fished the Suick on Lake St. Francis, one of the lakes created when they dammed the "Larry" [St. Lawrence]. This was as close as you could get to a typical Wisconsin lake.

In casting with regular casting rods and level wind reels you pick the action by the size lure. A stiff tip 5 to 5 feet long for one ounce or better lures. Here you add two feet by extending the arm in the cast. Pure work, and only if you are in top physical condition will you be able to cast all day. You pick your line weight by your casting ability. Big lures heavy lines...that's the rule of thumb. While experienced jerk bait fishermen use lines to thirty pound test, you will find some going to fifty pound test lines. I don't know why because you are equipped to land a 500 pound fish with that test of line. Figure ten pounds [of Muskie] for each pound of line test.

99 out of a hundred Muskie fishermen are over tackled for their type of fishing and only because they dream of seventy pound Muskie. Most will never catch one over thirty pounds. The Muskie caught by experienced Muskie fishermen do, on occasion, top forty pounds, but they are few and far between.

In tie casting rods, as you use smaller lures in Muskie fishing you can lower the weights of lines and switch to a medium tip. Here I would recommend the 5 and six foot rods and a top quality reel. With the lighter outfit, you will rely more on the drag of the reel instead of the horsing tackle.

As you go to ultra light lures you can drop to extra light rods and get back into the feel of top quality fishing with ultra light lines. Here you will reed the best reels money can buy.

In spin fishing, you pick your rod by the lure weight. One ounce or better lures call for a 7 to 7 foot stiff rod often referred to as a surf rod. The two hand grip rods work well, but you will tire out in a few hours of this grueling casting. Lines to fifteen pound test are adequate as the reel will do all the work. Use a top quality reel and try to buy a spinning reel that has limited bail spring breakage. You will find the American made reels in the larger size far surpass the foreign made reels. In spin fishing, it is a whole new ball game. As you master the skills in landing good size Muskie, you can get more enjoyment out of going to lighter weight lure which means lighter rod and reel combinations. Using lures under three quarters of an ounce, you can go to medium weight rod and reel using lines to ten pound test. This way you can fish all day casting and not feel you are working but enjoying your Muskie fishing.

If you desire to go ultra light in Muskie then figure you are ready for super fun in Muskie fishing. The ultra light outfit will have to be with lines under eight pounds. Here you pick the extra light tip in the six foot rod. Pick the limberness of your rod tip by the weight line you use. The lighter the line the more limber the tip. And, it want to go Ultra Light and fish lures to five - eight ounces, pick a fast taper rod with limber tip. Fishing ultra light for Muskie requires a sport fisherman rather than a meat fisherman. At the off set you will be loosing a lot of Muskie until you develop better methods of landing your Muskie. You soon find out you don't force a Muskie no matter how big he is. You land him by outwitting his moves during the fight, taking advantage of his mistakes. Since he lived to this size, he will offer you few...Good Luck!

In trolling, most rods are seven foot long with a stiff tip. Seems the guides require this of their rods, knowing they will be guiding novice fishermen nine out of ten times. This allows the guide to use the boat where the fisherman don't know how to land a Muskie. Guiding is done with level wind reels in light Salt water class. Lines are usually mono 20 to 30 pound test. Hardly the way to get any real enjoyment in trolling. The guides found over the years this was the best way of eliminating novice fishermen mistakes.

If you troll alone with spin tackle you can get more enjoyment with your Muskie fishing and pick up more Muskie by going to a medium action rod 7 or 7 feet long and drop to 10 to twelve pound test line. The best quality reel in heavy fresh water of light salt water action will fill the bill.

When I guided I gave my fishing parties a medium action 7 foot rod with a light action salt water spinning reel loaded with twelve pound test line. Never lost a Muskie to the outfit...only fishermen mistakes in not reeling when a Muskie charged toward the boat.

Some guides use braided lines and flat line troll where the can be continuously trolling without bringing in the lures. Sort of like a boat ride where it's luck in the fishermen catching a Muskie rather than skill. Their theory being the more miles they cover the more fishing the fisherman is getting. I found the Great Lakes trollers covered twenty miles heading from one area to another making big circles. The St. Lawrence River Muskie guides pick areas that produce regularly and work each area for a spell then head to another area. The reason being that each area he covers has, over the years, produced Muskie.

The individual fisherman that trolls alone soon reduces the weight of his tackle to meet his needs and skills. He soon realizes he is over equipped and starts experimenting in light weight outfits. Since only one out of ten thousand Muskie fishermen will ever use the fly on Muskie, you find the ones that do stay to heavier weight outfits. Rods 8 to 8 foot are the rule with weight forward lines and a fifteen pound tippet.

I found that a 9 or 9 foot rod medium weight fast taper fly rod offered greater fishing ease and fought down the hooked Muskie faster. I stayed at the twelve and ten pound tippet and have on occasion landed Muskie on tippets down to six pound test. I don't recommend the lighter tippets but it proves a point that if the Muskie is properly hooked where he can't use his teeth on your leader you and land him. My biggest was 40 pounds 6 ounces. Next one you catch, send me a letter, as I am interested in seeing how other fly rod Muskie fishermen are doing.