Are you looking for the best lures for musky fishing?
It is often quite easy to spot a fisherman chasing after the elusive muskellunge than any other type of fisherman.
Most of the time, you only have to look at what they are heaving out into the water to know what they are fishing for.
No matter if you are a beginner or you have been fishing for years, with such a wide variety of lures available, it can be difficult deciding which lures are the best lures for musky.
For example, sometimes it may be effective to fish with large fishing lures, while on other occasions it might be better to have more of a subtle finesse approach.
In this article, we will take a look at several lures that have a track record of catching muskie and discuss when and how to use them.
The Best Musky Lures 2020 – My Top 8 Picks
We have broken the lures down into 5 categories: Jigs, Bucktails, Jerkbaits, BullDawgs, and Topwater.
Here is a quick preview of our favorites:
- Northland Tackle Bionic Buck Tail Fishing Jig
- Musky Double Cowgirl Bucktail
- Mepps MuskyKiller
- HIIMPACT SUICK
- Perch Innovations Bull Dawg
- River2Sea Whopper Plopper 190
- Yakima Bait POE’s Havana Jackpot Surface Plug
When muskie move down into deeper waters, one of the best ways to reach them is by throwing a heavy jighead and using a bounce retrieve.
While musky will often hunt in shallower water around weed beds or other obstructions where the majority of their food source resides, they will often move from these positions to deeper water as the sun reaches its apex in the sky.
While most anglers often think of musky fishing in more shallow areas water, deep water fishing can offer a lot of opportunities for that once-in-a-lifetime musky.
One such jig is the Northland Tackle Bionic Buck Tail Fishing Jig.
Does this lure have what it takes to be considered the best musky lure?
We think it does and after reading the following we think you will too. As you can see from the picture this is a 1-ounce jig/bucktail that is designed to get down deep quickly.
The combination of the bucktail body and the right twitches with the rod give it that pulsating action that drives musky wild.
How to fish the Northland Tackle Bionic Buck Tail Fishing Jig.
To begin with, it is important to remember that no matter, if you are fishing in rivers with swifter current, or in deeper and calmer lakes, jigging for musky, is a slower more finesse method but can yield excellent results.
While there are several techniques used for jigs, one of the most effective is bumping them along breaks or transitions in bottom types.
There are two main points of the retrieve where strikes most often come.
The first is at the apex of the rise of the jig as you retrieve it and the second is during the descent. Hits on the rise are more difficult to get the hook set properly.
You need a fast action rod, and we like a reel that has a line retrieval rate high enough to get line in fast in case they hit the bait on the rise.
You are not a true musky angler until you catch one on a bucktail?
In fact, I seriously doubt there are any muskie anglers out there who don’t have several bucktails in their lure arsenal.
What is a bucktail? A bucktail is basically a large hook with one or two spinners and it is generally covered in feathers.
When being retrieved the spinners spin giving off a lot of motion, appearing like a fleeing baitfish much like a spinnerbait. The feathers not only will help to make this lure weedless, but they also can elicit a strike.
What makes them so effective?
For one thing, the types, colors, and sizes of bucktails are nearly limitless. Another thing that makes them great is that they can be fished throughout the year.
I personally like to use them in spring and throughout the summer. They are especially effective during summer months when musky are actively feeding.
How to fish a bucktail. A bucktail is a throw it out there and bring it back kind of lure. However, there are other ways to fish it to generate a strike. One great way to get a hit is to vary your retrieval speed.
Keep in mind that by slowing down the lure the tail fills out and by speeding up the retrieve it becomes more narrow.
So by varying your speed or a quick and slow retrieve can help to vary your presentation and hopefully give the fish more reasons to commit.
While bucktails are often used simply as cast and retrieve to cover large amounts of water, being mindful of their action and depth is critical.
This is especially true when you see musky following your bait. Large sweeps and bursts of speed can be the tipping point for a muskie getting aggressive and taking your bait.
What to look for in the best bucktail for musky. Bucktails are available in many different sizes and weights, but matching them with what musky feeding on throughout the year will greatly increase your success.
Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite bucktails and why we think they are to be considered the best musky lures.
One of my favorite bucktails is the Musky Double Cowgirl.
One of the best things about this lure is the mere size.
It is 10 inches long and weighs 2.8 ounces. After all big lures catch big fish right?
This makes it perfect for enticing aggressive feeding musky.
Be sure you have the proper rod and reel that is going to be able to cast this large lure and retrieve it at a fast enough rate without wearing yourself out within the first hour.
However, huge lures are not always what musky are looking for, we also like to use smaller bucktails such as the Mepps MuskyKiller.
Compared to the Double Cowgirl mentioned earlier this is a much smaller lure, but a great option when the fish aren’t biting.
The best thing about this lure is it isn’t just limited to fishing for musky, we could also call it the trout killer.
The best way to fish it is to retrieve a bit slower when the fish do not seem to be responding to larger and faster lures. A few pauses and bumps of the rod will make the tail flair and can vary your presentation.
Jerkbaits are another mainstay on the musky circuit.
There are many different types and styles of jerkbaits on the market, but to make it easier let’s talk about two popular styles of jerkbaits: divers and gliders.
The difference between the two is how they react when jerked. Divers dive vertically, and gliders glide side to side staying at the same depth.
I love fishing jerkbaits during the fall and leading into the winter as water temperatures begin to drop and are one of my go-to lures for landing large muskie.
Depending on the jerkbait, some can be used with a faster retrieval and will work throughout the year when the fish are more aggressive.
Keep in mind that muskie are oftentimes keying in on schools of fish and a jerkbait fished with long pulls and pauses imitates a dying baitfish and appears to be an easy meal.
However, the larger lures can be pretty taxing on your stamina when throwing them for several hours. Because of this, we don’t like to employ these baits as a searching lure.
If you can find schools of baitfish or cover that likely holds baitfish, keying in on these likely musky holding spots is going to cut down on excess casting.
While jerkbaits can entice musky throughout the year, I think the slower retrieval rate matches up well with musky metabolism as the water temperatures begin to drop.
Remember, sometimes the longer the pause the better.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best lures for musky that fall in the jerkbait category.
One of my favorite diving jerkbaits is the HIIMPACT SUICK MUSKY.
This is a 9-inch jerkbait that is designed to make that erratic emotion with the twitch of your rod. The best thing about this lure is it can be fished in shallow waters or can be weighted down to fish deeper depths if needed.
It is also highly tunable so you can get the exact action that you are looking for out of the lure.
If you are looking for a jerkbait that glides, I would recommend the next to make our list of the best musky lures, the Hellhound.
We like these glider models because they work wonderfully with slow and fast retrieval.
With the proper rod and reel combo, they are also easy to control making them perfect for use in shallower waters around structures and weeds.
No list of the best musky lures would be complete without mentioning the Perch Innovations Bull Dawg.
The BullDawg is like no other.
In fact, because it is so versatile I had difficulty deciding which category to put it in. For that reason, I created its own category.
What makes them so effective?
First, it is a slow sinking plastic lure that works great when trying to get to those deeper waters that musky are holding up in.
The thing that sets this lure apart and gets attention is the long plastic tail. This plastic tail when being retrieved in the water that gives off lots of action in the water.
How to fish a Bull Dawg?
Because the tail of this lure gives off a lot of action there really isn’t a wrong way to fish it.
You can catch a giant musky on a simple retrieval such as just casting it out there and bring it back or you can change things up.
Jerk it, twitch it, slow it down, speed it up. The important thing is to change it up and see what gets the most hits.
Getting a strike from a musky on topwater lures might be one of the most exciting forms of freshwater fishing.
Some of the best times to switch over to topwater lures is after the spawning season and when water temperatures begin to rise towards their peak and throughout the summer season.
Initially, we like louder and more aggressive topwater lures, but as the pressure on the fish increases and they fall into their summer patterns, we scale back on the gaudiness.
One great aspect of fishing with topwater is watching muskie chase your lure. One of the biggest tips we can give you is to not slow down your retrieval when you see this.
It is often an angler’s instinct to do so but put yourself in the mind of the prey, and they are going to speed up as fast as they can.
If you see a big muskie trailing you, try speeding up. It often yields better results than trying to feed your lure to the fish by slowing down the retrieval.
When fishing topwater we recommend a longer and heavier rod that will allow you to get some extra distance on your casts.
The longer rods also seem to give you better control of the direction of the lure on retrieval which can help elicit strikes from musky debating on whether to make a move on your lure.
While there are quite a few different topwater designs that are available on the market here are a few of our favorites.
One of most popular and most effective musky lures is the Whopper Plopper 190.
Now you might be thinking this is a bass lure and you would be correct. It will catch some big bass, but it will also catch some big musky.
This is a 7.5 inch, 2 3/4 ounce topwater floating lure that simply put, gets attention.
The lure is divided into two different sections. The front section is made of a hard plastic that is designed to float much like you would see on a spook. The second section is a soft tail that is designed to spin.
When this lure is retrieved it gives off a very distinct and unique ‘plop’ sound that drives musky wild.
One of the best things about the Whopper Plopper is how easy it is to fish. Just cast it out there and bring it back, let the lure work its magic.
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The next on our list of the best musky lures is the Yakima Bait POE’s Havana Jackpot Surface Plug.
This is an 8 inch 3.5-ounce spook designed specifically for topwater musky fishing. One of the best ways to fish it is by using a “walk the dog” technique.
This technique is designed to imitate a dying baitfish and believe me it gets results.
It doesn’t create near the disturbance as other topwater lures, which is not always what the muskie are keying in on for feeding purposes.
This lure does have an erratic motion and has a high hook up percentage for most anglers.
By no means is this a comprehensive list of lures that are capable of catching the legendary musky.
For a fish that sometimes seems as elusive as the loch ness monster, it takes the right lures to bring it out of hiding.
We have provided several different types of lures that are proven muskie catchers and discussed the best situations they should be employed.
Now it is your turn. Please share with us what you think are the best musky lures in the comment section below.