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  • Writer's pictureSteven Paul

Musky Fishing on a Budget 2024

Musky Fishing on a Budget 2024

While muskies are known as the fish of ten thousand casts, some might call them the fish if ten thousand dollars after taking a look at musky gear prices. A few years back I covered the subject of musky fishing on a budget and sense that writing nothing has changed. In fact, the base prices of musky tackle have gone up like all things in modern society. But fear not there are still some great lures, rods and reels on the market for anglers that don’t want to break the bank. At the end of the day a musky doesn’t know or care if your lure is custom painted or how much your reel costs. The gear I selected meets not only is on the conservative side of pricing but also is durable and of the highest quality and built to last. With this in mind lets take a look at the best of the best budget friendly musky gear on the market in 2024.


#1. The Titan from Livingston Lures

The Titan is a dive and rise lure that is priced around $30 which in the world of musky lures is on the low end of the pricing spectrum. The key feature of the Titan for the budget minded musky angler is it’s interchangeable weight system. This weight system allows the Titan to be used as a shallow, mid and deep dive and rise presentation which means you only need to buy one Titan opposed to buying multi lures. The Titan includes the extra weights in the package for this lure is ready for any musky fishing situation right out of the package. The Titan is made of extremely durable high grade ABS plastic so it is made to last a lifetime.

The Titan is extremely easy to use and has an amazing dive and rise action that is a proven musky catcher. Dive and rise lures rarely snag or get lost while fishing so adding a Titan and its extreme versatility to your budget friendly musky fishing arsenal is an easy call.


#2. Slammer 7” Minnow Crankbait

The Slammer 7” minnow crankbait is a staple in many musky anglers tackle boxes as it check out just under $20. The Slammer 7” is made of highly durable plastic but has all the positive properties of more pricey balsa and cedar wood musky lures. The folks at slammer hand paint each lure so they feature top shelf paint jobs without the top shelf price tag.

The 7” Slammer Minnow will produce muskies from post spawn in the spring up until the lakes freeze up. The size, profile and action of the 7” Slammer minnow are spot on for just about any and all shallow running crankbait applications. Twitching, jerking, straight retrieve and even trolling can all be done effectively with the Slammer 7” minnow.


#3 The Kraken from Livingston Lures

When musky anglers think about jerk baits and tubes our minds immediately go to soft plastics. While soft plastics are undeniably musky producers the frugal anglers knows that they are disposable baits with a short shelf life. But fear not in 2024 Livingston Lures unleashed the Kraken a true tube style jerk-bait that is a hybrid or extremely durable ABS plastic and a soft replaceable tail section. The body section of the Kraken is built to last a lifetime and also features the same versatile weighting system as the Livingston Lures Titan. This means that you only need to buy one crank verse a box full of other jerk-baits. The included adjustable weights mean you can fish the Kraken shallow, mid and deep and all points in between. No need for piles of lures when the Kraken can do it all. The versatility of the weight system coupled with the ability to replace the tails means you can buy one jerk-bait that you can use all musky season long. The Kraken checkout around $30 and the replacement tails come in two packs for $7.99 and keep in mind the skirts last a very long time so the Kraken absolutely is a budget friendly musky lure.


 #5. Mepps Musky Flashabou

Any angler that has stepped out on a boat knows that bucktails catch muskies. With this being such an obvious presentation hundreds of companies have attempted to make bucktails. With some much demand and some much competition prices for bucktails have gone in my opinion insane. I have no desire to spend fifty or even believe it or not a hundred dollars on a couple blades, hooks and skirting material. Thank fully the folks at Mepps have their feet on the ground and not their head in the clouds as they still produce the Mepps Musky Flashabou bucktails for $20. Will the price is the low the quality is high as all things Mepps usually are. The Mepps Musky Flashabou features double #8 blades two treble hooks and high quality flash skirt material. I would also note that these bucktail start easily and catch muskies anywhere they swim.


#6. Musky Shop Shield Rods

To catch a musky, you have to have a rod and if you have looked lately the prices have gone through the roof. High end musky rods are pushing prices near a thousand dollars which I find to be insane but fortunately the folks at The Musky Shop came through with a rod solution for those of use that don’t wear a top hat and monocle.

The Musky Shop Shield Rod is offered in numerous models but the core musky casting models are 8’ / 8’ 6” / 9’ / 9’ 6”. They are offered in Heavy and Extra Heavy actions.

While all the lengths and actions are perfect for any sized angler or casting application the price is also right ranging from $224.99 - $249.99. The Sheild Rods have high quality rod eyelets, cork grips and a very comfortable grip. I have personally used these rods for years now and have nothing but good things to say about them.


#7. Okuma Komodo SS

While the Okuma Komodo isn’t the cheapest musky reel on the market at $239.99 it is simply the most durable. As a professional musky guide, I have used every brand and model of reel available and the Okuma Stand out from the pack. Generally, the “kiss of death” for a musky reel is big baits in the hands of anglers that have little to no on the water experience. Unintentionally low skilled anglers can break reels in ways never imagined but not the Komodo. Freezing conditions, stooping lures with the handle mid-air, major drops, falls and being stepped on… I’ve seen it all and the Okum Komodo can take the abuse.

While there are a few cheaper reels I would recommend spending a bit extra for a reel that is budget friendly and won’t rune your day on the water with an unexpected failure.


#8. AFW Tooth Proof

Having a high quality is a must while musky fishing but a pack of a just a couple leaders can be a bit pricey. American Fishing Wire (AFW) Tooth Proof offers thirty-foot spools of 100lbs strength straight wire for $3.99. With just a little effort you can make twenty or thirty musky leads for just a few dollars.

In the early days of my guiding career, I went through countless spools of AFW as it was the only budget friendly option for a broke musky guide just starting out. The simple trick I used to make my leaders consistent was a small piece of wood with two finish nails spaced out at 12 inches. This allows me to bend the wire at each nail to get consistent length leaders. Trim and wrapped each end and you have a leader. The cheapest way of completing these leaders is using a split ring as your line attachment, not only does this eliminate the cost of a snap but is also the most secure lure attachment method there is.


#9. Next Level Braid

Like all things musky line prices are also climbing with no end in sight. Fortunately, Next Level Braid was released in 2024 and gives anglers a premium line at a budget friendly price.  Next Level Braid checkouts at $16.99 for a 160-yard spool. With a proper amount of mono reel backing each spool of Next Level Braid is enough to spool up two full size musky reels. Next Level Braid might be budget friendly but the quality is top shelf as it is an eight-strand braid made in Japan from premium materials.

Another quick tip to save money in braid is to reverse your spool before buying more line. The braid that is at the bottom of your spool rarely sees water if at all. Instead of changing your line pulling off your braid and reversing it can give braid a double life span.


#10. Drifter Hellhound 6”

The Hellhound is not only super easy to use it is super affordable at just $23.99. Made out of high-quality ABS plastic this lure will survive years of musky fishing abuse. While some musky glide baits might be hundreds the Hellhound is inexpensive and has an action as good if not better than these high dollar customs.  The Hellhound generally runs shallow but added a pair of heavier hooks can get it deeper when needed making it a little more versatile. The Hellhound is offered in great finishes that are super durable and catch muskies.


Admittedly seeing the price of modern musky can knock the wind out of your sails. But rest assured muskies don’t ask your sales receipt before they bite. Budget friendly musky anglers have plenty of options and honestly most of the lures that reasonably priced are some of the best on the market.


Steven Paul


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