Melton Hill Musky Fishing
Lure Review :
Joe Bucher Suspending Depth Raider
The Joe Bucher Suspending Depth Raider isn’t just another lure; it’s an entirely new way to trigger strikes.
Like all musky hunters “in the know”, my tackle box is always well stocked with Depth Raiders. I keep them handy in a vast array of colors and styles: jointed, sinking, and straight. Depth Raiders are time-tested, undeniable producers of muskies. They account for some of my and my fellow anglers’ biggest catches every year. So, when I purchased my first suspending Depth Raider, I knew it had potential; but, I didn’t know that it was going to be an absolute game changer.
At first glance the suspending and straight models are nearly indistinguishable, but cosmetic similarities are where the likenesses end. The suspending Depth Raider retains all of the positive qualities of its predecessors, like an irresistible wobble and tremendous hook-up ratio, but finds a way to take it to a whole new dimension. The suspending nature of this Depth Raider turns it into the ultimate Swiss Army knife of your tackle box. When observing the bait, don’t let the lip fool you. This Depth Raider isn’t just a killer crank bait, it’s also a glide and jerk bait in disguise that can trigger strikes from the most negative or neutral muskies. The suspending Depth Raider is far superior to other suspenders on the market; not only, because it will go deeper, hitting even 15 feet, but also because it’s internal rattle adds an extra attraction on slow retrieves. It also has a pronounced rocking action when paused. My previous experiences with other suspending musky lures, you might consider shaky at best. Most lures that claimed to suspend, either had an unpredictable rise, or sank when paused. The Joe Bucher lure suspends consistently and the build quality ensures anglers that the lure will be where you want it, when you want it.
The first key to effectively fishing the suspending Depth Raider is to stop treating it like a crank bait. Yes, it will catch muskies on a straight cranking retrieve, but you should leave that job to the original straight and jointed Depth Raider models. The true magic of this lure is that it’s a precision glide and jerk bait that allows you to accurately place your presentations and keep them there indefinitely.
When fishing a shore line or weed bed, I start each retrieve with a short rip, just enough to get the lure down a foot or two, which can lead to some startling strikes from tight cover fish. After the first pause, I continue with short but firm slack line jerks. These slack line jerks give the lure a subsurface “walk the dog” glide action; therefore, adding in long and short pauses become crucial triggering factors. The suspending nature of the lure functions to hold it in place during the pause, while the internal weighting and cylindrical body give it an irresistible rocking action. As you continue this “walk the dog” retrieve, the lure will gain a little depth with each jerk, allowing it to mirror the sloping angle of a shore or break-line. This contour tracing allows you to stay in the strike zone during the entire retrieve. This makes it an effective choice for 2 feet down to 20. When the lure finally makes its way to the boat and it’s at its deepest, I give it an upward rip, which has converted quite a few reluctant follows into photos. After the upward rip, I finish off each retrieve with a wide boat-side circle.
When it comes to targeting open water muskies, the suspending Depth Raider becomes the ultimate tool in your arsenal. I again use a “walk the dog” style retrieve, but start each retrieve by cranking the lure down to my desired depth. As you retrieve the lure, you can easily raise its depth with an upward rip or lower it in the water column with some longer pulls. This precision depth control allows you to keep the lure exactly in the line of sight of suspended muskies. The side to side darting, coupled with its internal rattle can be used to target fish long distances from the lure. Once I am dialed in on a certain dept range, the neutral buoyancy allows me to do some hybrid trolling. I simply work the suspending Depth Raider to my target depth range. Then when the lure is paused during a retrieve, I let the slack out while moving the boat forward with my trolling motor. This technique allows me to cover large distances and big breaks, while keeping the suspending depth raider right on target.
The suspending Depth Raider has quickly become my go-to lure for cold fronts. When fish are using deep cover, staging on a deep structure or negative/neutral acting, the suspending Depth Raider is the first place I turn. I have saved many days on the water by using its neutral buoyancy to put the lure right in the muskies face. This effect almost always elicits a reactionary or territorial strike. Anytime conditions are pointing to the glide bait presentations, a suspending Depth Raider needs to be on one of your rods. In the past, I have wrestled with the common glide bait issue of depth in relation to speed. I’ve found that to properly present the majority of glide baits, deeper than five or six feet, you are sometimes sacrificing the speed that might trigger a strike. The suspending Depth Raider eliminates the speed vs. depth equation. With this lure, you can easily target post frontal and deep structure fish with a quick and erratic retrieve. It was a real eye opener to see the results of these quick but deep gliding retrieves under cold front conditions. They made me break from the conventional knowledge that says “slow is the only way to go.”
When water temperatures dip into the 40’s or below, the suspending Depth Raider can become a deadly, slow jerk bait. By simply removing the center belly hook, the lures buoyancy can be altered enough to give it a very slow rise. In cold water conditions, this slow rise can be the difference between a strike and a follow. When using it in this “dive and rise” style, I am giving the lure a mix of long and short rips along cover and break lines. Also, I use some slack line jerks to add a rocking glide. As you might have guessed, the suspending Depth Raider’s neutral buoyancy allows for an unlimited amount of hook configurations which will all yield different results. But no matter how you choose to fish it, the suspending Depth Raider will put muskies in your boat. So when things get tough and the odds are stacked against you, I would pull a suspending depth raider from your tackle box. The suspending depth raider has turned so many of my toughest days on the water into successes. I would never leave the dock without it.
Melton Hill Musky Guide