Choosing the best Muskie Glide Baits as a beginner or recreational musky fishermen can be a difficult task. Picking the best "this" or "that" is more often more a matter of personal opinion. As an experienced guide, I would like to share with you what my clients and I have observed during our hard worked hours on the water.
With so many fantastic custom small batch lures available, it makes choosing a definitive "best" nearly impossible. An apples to apples comparison of all musky glide baits would create a far to broad comparison and would undoubtedly skew towards some of the elite custom, hand-made lures. These lures are typically pricey and out of range for beginners or recreational anglers. So to keep the water from getting murky, we will look at some musky glide baits that are available from online retailers or in tackle stores and are proven to catch muskies throughout their habitat range. These are listed in no particular order and all are affordable options.
The Phantom is truly a "Bread and Butter" lure. If you don't have one you need one, and if you have one you need two more... end of story.
Phantoms have produced trophy muskies in every state and province. They also excel when targeting tiger muskies on the Western waterways of the US. Phantoms were one of the top presentations for myself and client during a recent trip to Oregon in pursuit of tigers.
They may not be the easiest glide bait to use but they gotta be a close second.
Phantoms are very forgiving, they seem to glide easily regardless of an anglers skill level.
I personally prefer the soft tail version, as it gives the lure a little motion on the pause.
One feature that makes Phantoms stand out from the pack is that all models have threaded holes for optional weights. These weights allow you to adjust he running depth of this lure. This is a great feature to have when muskies are holding deep but still want a fast presentation. The weight system is an absolute life saver when fishing below or near a damn or in heavy current.
2. Hell Hound
The Hellhound is hands down the easiest glide bait to use; it really doesn't get much easier.
If you are new to musky fishing this is definitely the glider for you. If you don't get to spend much time on the water, but want to throw gliders.. again this is the one for you. The Hellhound is as forgiving as it gets, most people have this thing dancing side to side in just a matter of seconds.
Hellhounds are made of hard plastic and are built like a tank. I have spent hours banging them off rocks and bridges and I am yet to have any break or crack.
The action on a Hellhound is pretty consistent from lure to lure, but some seem to run a little better than others due to the minor irregularities in weighting at the factory.
Hellhounds do not have a built in weight system to achieve different depths, but by adding larger or heavier gauge hooks you can augment the lures rate of fall. Hellhounds seem to have a slightly tighter wobble on the pause than many other gliders.
The Manta by River Run Tackle is a little trickier to use than say a Phantom or Hellhound, but it is not what I would consider to be difficult. It is slightly quicker that other gliders, so a quick pickup in slack line is all that is needed to get this thing darting and diving.
The plastic tail of the Manta is non-adjustable, but it does act as a water foil of sorts, stabilizing the lure in the water and giving it a nice wide glide.
Personally I have found Mantas to be very inconsistent in their action from lure to lure, regardless of their hard plastic construction. Once you find a "good one" hold on tight.
Mantas are excellent at moving negative and neutral muskies and get absolutely crushed by actively feeding fish. Many anglers complain about "Muskies being hypnotized" by Mantas and following them rather than striking, I think this is due to the lure being presented in too much of rhythmic way, so focus on breaking up your retrieve with pauses and erratic movements. The best feature of a Manta is hands down the greatest pause of any musky glider I have used. If the lure is properly tuned, Mantas will do a delayed nose down screw turn on the pause; this "Death Spiral" is one of the best triggers I've seen for muskies.
If I could only have one glider it wouldn't be a Manta, but it would be the my second choice.
The Warlock from Bitten Tackle is the Swiss Army Knife of musky glide baits.
This lure is slightly more limited in availability than the others on this list, but is still easily available online from musky stores. What really makes this lure stand out from the pack is the adjustable metal tail. With some slight adjustment to the easily bendable tail, you can have the Warlock running at a different depths or darting in some highly erratic ways. The hook up ratio on Warlocks is excellent and it is one of those lures that when a musky decides to hit, they flat out crush it. Warlocks are rather easy to work but have their own cadence: not too fast, not too slow seems to be the sweet spot. Warlocks are made of wood but are very durable. I don't launch mine in to harms way with reckless abandon like I do with say a Phantom or Hellhound, but they are tough lures. Warlocks are a great option for targeting muskies during summer peak and in the spring. The shad like profile is an excellent option on southern muskie waters like Melton Hill and Cave Run.
Tennessee Musky Guide Steven Paul
Melton Hill Musky Fishing