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  • Writer's pictureSteven Paul

Tweaking Musky Trolling Lures

Flat sided crank baits Like Jakes and Grandmas excel at casting but are absolute staples for any serious musky troller. Over the years there have been numerous changes made to both Jakes and Grandmas ranging from minor manufacturing tweaks to complete lip redesigns. The changes made in production over the years have added to the lore of some models most notably the Grandma M9. Musky anglers seeking out top tier trolling presentations that have “magic” has led to Grandma M9’s commanding a hefty sum on the used market. The same can be said for various incarnations of Jakes, bent lip verse non bent lips versions and bubble eyes all have their cult followings that swear by their mystical musky catching properties. I could go on and on about the litany of variants available from manufactures over the years, from hardware to weighting so on and so forth but at the end of the day the minutia leaves most musky anglers more confused than ever.

While it can be fun to nerd out and crawl deeper down the rabbit hole regarding the slightest differences in lures the only thing that matters is action. Muskies don’t really care if your trolling some amazing vintage lure, a custom made masterpiece or something you carved from a stick you found on the bank….. if the action is right, they will eat it. So let’s look at a few ways to get the best action out of your Jakes and Grandmas.


With the majority of lures on the market today being made of plastic tuning is not something that is brought up very often. Most anglers expect the lure to be running perfectly right out of the box. While this can be the case more often than not there are still tweaks that can be made.

Always check you hook hangers to make sure that they are in perfect alignment. Looking down the belly of the lure make sure the two bottom hook hangers and rear hook hanger are straight and true to the seem of the lure and in alignment with each other.

The line attachment of the lure should be straight vertically to the lure but only as a starting place. An one the water check should be made to make sure the lure is running straight. Adjustments can be made to get a truer action by bending the line tie of the lure in small increments to achieve the desired action. You can correct the action of many crank baits by adding a split ring to the line attachment. Under most circumstances a large #6 or #7 split ring can compensate most if not all tuning issues.

Lure Prep

The majority of muskie lures are over built to withstand the punishment of the sport, however trolling can be the ultimate test. I like to do a few easy things to my Jakes and Grandmas to make sure they will hold up as long as possible.

Reinforce the lip of the lure with a healthy dose of super glue. I will often apply two or three layers to the lip. Grinding rocks, reefs and other hard structures is extremely tough on plastic lips. You are going to break, crack and damage the lips on both Jakes and Grandmas. The super glue will help prevent the lip from dislodging on models that have inserted lips.

Don’t put the lid on the super glue just yet… I also will apply a healthy dose into the hook hanger recess. The majority of lures have a recessed area where the hook hanger hardware is inset, this recess can become a point of water intrusion from catches, snags and rough running. A little super glue will help keep water out and hardware in place.

Lip Shaping

While it may sound extreme, I have turned Jakes and Grandmas that previously ran in a subpar fashion into muskies catching machines by aggressively reshaping the lips. Lures that run poorly that can not be corrected with tuning and split rings can often be saved by reshaping the lip.

Keep in mind that reshaping or changing a lip is not something you can reverse so take it slow and remove material in small increments.

I will work on the lip of a Jake or Grandma with file that is coarse to start and then water test. In most cases a few passes on one side of a lip is all that is needed to correct major issues. You can clean up the lip with a few passes of a hook file to tweak if needed.

I can not stress enough, work in small increments and water test at trolling speeds before making more changes.

Not many Jakes or Grandmas are perfect out of the box but once you have one that dialed in use it as a template for all others. With proper tuning, adjustments and lip tweaks you can get all of you Jakes and Grandmas running with the same muskie catching action.

Tennessee Musky Fishing.

Tennessee Musky rivers. Tennessee Musky Guide. Melton Hill Musky Fishing


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