That Your Not Throwing......
The sport of muskie fishing is truly in it's golden age.
Many years of conservation and angler education have helped to increase not only the size but also the number of muskies encountered. This renaissance has brought many new anglers to the sport; affording lure makers the opportunity to expand the quantity and quality of the their selections.
With so many lures flooding the market, it can be difficult distinguish between which lures are worth the cash and which ones are better left on the shelves. Every year we are faced with the "Next Big Thing", some super hyped lure that is GUARANTEED to catch you the MUSKIE OF A LIFETIME, but as we all know the Hype usually doesn't pan out. So instead of crawling down the "Rabbit Hole" to sort out fact from fiction regarding the new muskie lures out for 2019....... lets look at some sleepers: musky lures that have been forgotten by time, dismissed by critics or over shadowed in the public eye by contemporary offerings.
These lures aren't current hits but they are proven producers that you should add to your musky tackle box this year.
1. Reef Hawg
The Reef Hawg by Tom Fudally is one of those lures that's been lost in time.
Long before Phantoms, Hell Hounds and Shum Shums, the Reef Hawg was a go to in the glide bait department. Worked over shallow rocks, weeds and other cover, it is absolutely deadly in the hands of the right angler. No, it wont sway as wide or smoothly as some of the custom-made glide baits out there, but that's not the point.
After you give it a real beating, smash it into some rocks and maybe use it to chock a trailer tire, only then you will begin to unlock it's magic. The Reef Hawg's unique cadence and subsurface walk the dog action should be a part of every musky hunters arsenal.
2. PDEEZ Bucktails
With so many bucktails on the market it's easy to think that they are all the same.
Bucktails are just blades, wire, hooks and flashabou right??? Well that's not necessarily true because sometimes the devil's in the details. Paul Didaskalou of PDeez has designed some of the highest quality bucktails out there that haven't really made a splash in the US market. Pdeez inlines have a unique dialed in feel that serious musky anglers will instantly recognize as the "IT FACTOR". https://pdeezmuskyinlines.com
3. Bill Norman DR2
The Bill Norman DR2 is what I would consider to be a Southern Muskie classic.
This lure has been a family favorite long before Melton Hill and Cave Run Lake were known to the musky world.
Winter, I'm throwing it...Spring, I'm throwing it....Fall I'm....well you get the point.
Rip it, twitch it, straight retrieve, it doesn't matter just get it wet.
These smaller southern-fried musky lures are getting a little harder to find on the used market, but keep a keen eye out for flea market and yard sale tackle; there you can land some killer musky lures for pennies on the dollar. They have definitely been forgotten by most, but a select few know just how deadly these are around cover and break lines. When fishing lakes like Melton Hill that have a shad forage base some of the best muskie lures aren't muskie lures at all.
*Pro tip.... ditch the stock hooks and rings and replace the front and rear hooks with Mustad KVD 3/0's.
4. Heddon Hellbender
The Hellbender is another lure that excels at targeting southern muskies.
This undersized offering has been putting muskies in the net for me in Canada and other Northern waters for years. It is similar in action to the above mentioned Bill Norman lure, but it's smaller size is often the key to triggering strikes in the spring and strikes for muskies who are less than cooperative. The Heddon Hellbender is still being made but its diminutive profile doesn't catch many eyes in the tackle isle, but rest assured this little lure can get it done .
5. Storm Thunder Beast
The Storm Thunder Beast isn't sexy, it isn't flashy, but it gets the job done.
With so many big rubber baits available the Thunder Beast has definitely been over shadowed by sleeker and simply cooler musky lures.
But the Thunder Beast does have a few unique qualities that should earn it a place in your tackle box. It's large and flat profiled tail gives the Thunder Beast a different pulse in the water, but the real stand out feature is it's ability to descend at odd angles.
It's body shape and water displacement makes this lure stand out from other rubber baits.
The price tag on these is often lower than other big rubber baits and superb deals can be found on Amazon and EBAY.
6. Joe Bucher Glide Raider
The Joe Bucher Glide Raider is one of those lures that got panned by critics from the start and subsequently never really took off with the masses. When compared to other glide baits on the market, the Glide Raider is considered "hard to use" , but that only applies if you try to fish it like other gliders. The key to effectively using this lure is utilizing slack line which puts many anglers squarely out of their comfort zone. If you are the kind of musky angler that is willing to spend time developing retrieves, this lure is for you. If you're looking for a throw and go glider look elsewhere. But like all things musky fishing, you get back what you put in. The learning curve of the Glide Raider is a little more steep than other glide baits but it is a worthwhile endeavor. The Glide Raider is deadly on big musky...
7. Musky Mania Burt
The Burt is one of those lures I have an absolute love/hate relationship with.
But mostly hate, yeah I hate this lure....but man has it gotten me out of some jams.
The Burt seems to excel when nothing else will, it's definitely one of those lures that I tie on when nothing else seems to be working. When it comes to comparing dive and rise musky baits, the Burt rarely tops any lists, but its truly a worth while addition to your gear.
It might not be the first lure you pull out of the box, but it's in there, just waiting to save the day.
8. Suspending Depth Raider
The Suspending version of this iconic lure has been largely ignored, seemingly out hyped by lures like the ERC Triple D and other suspending lures.
I can't say enough good things about this lure, for a full run down on this sleeper lure click here http://www.tennesseemuskyfishing.com/blog/suspending-depth-raider-isn-t-just-another-lure
9. Shumway Fuzzy Duzzit
The Fuzzy Duzzit seems to have been forgotten by most musky fishermen in recent years.
It has taken a back seat to Bondy baits and the new wave vertical jigs to hit the market. But don't count Fuzzy out just yet. This all metal jig still has some tricks up it's metal sleeves. First off this bait is indestructible; it's metal and hooks, simply a tank!
But the real advantage this lure has over the new school vertical jigs is its hook-up ratio and durability. An easy and recommended mod for this lure is adding a spinner blade to the tail which really steps up the action...think indestructible Bondy Bait.
10. Suick Thriller
I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but a lot of young musky anglers are not throwing Suicks. For me leaving the dock without a Suick is like leaving without a fishing rod. IT'S A MUST HAVE! Yes, they are a pain in the ass; yes, some Suicks are better than others, but this is just what comes with the territory. Musky fishing and Suicks are simply synonymous.
I understand that for some new anglers, these old school lures present a challenge but they are well worth the effort. Each individual Suick has its own unique characteristics due to their cedar wood construction, so inconsistencies in buoyancy are always present from one lure to the next. The key to using and this lure is making the proper tail adjustments to achieve your desired action and depth. Many videos and articles can be found online giving instructions to help tune your Suick. New models of this lure are available in hard plastic which minimizes the differences from one lure to the next, but honestly their funky uniqueness is what makes the original Suick so great.
Steven Paul is a professional muskie guide on Melton Hill Reservoir in Tennessee.
Tennessee Musky Fishing, Melton Hill Musky