TOOLS TO TACKLE MUSKIES THIS WINTER

Being heavily involved in the muskie industry it’s pretty common to get approached and see many new products and ideas before they hit the market. It’s amazing to see some of these ideas develop from concept to implementation and become the next big thing in muskie fishing. This winter while awaiting open water or your first spring trip, by watching television shows, reading magazines, trolling social media, or attending sports shows, consider picking up a few of the following items that can really assist you this season.

We all have our favorite muskie reels. I get asked all of the time about various new reels on the market. Certainly, I am a big fan of Shimano and I had a chance to test the new Shimano Tranx 300 and 400. There is no question the Tranx 400 is the ultimate muskie reel. It’s comfortable and extremely durable and I use if for almost all of my musky fishing applications. However, get into a discussion about muskie reels with a group of musky hunters, and the conversation quickly turns to actual reel handles. Some anglers prefer the larger power handles with one large knob and others prefer the standard paddle handle with two knobs. The handle style actually impacts the mechanics of how you reel. For example, using a traditional handle involves primarily the wrist, whereas the power handle, gets the shoulder muscles involved. If you have any wrist or shoulder issues, changing reel handles can relieve the pain. Generally, if you need to retrieve baits at high speed, or if you are using hard pulling lures such as a Cowgirl the power handle is a must. I use the Shimano Tranx 400a for fishing Cowgirls, but I place the Power handle on the reel for more leverage. If you are using other lures such as a topwater or minnowbait, the traditional handle makes fishing these lures much easier, and you can fish them slower and with more finesse. Also, there are different size traditional and power handles available that are made by various manufacturers. Depending upon your hand size, a smaller or larger handle may increase comfort. Consider purchasing a different handle to upgrade or convert a reel that best suits its intended purpose.

Going through your tackle during the winter can be a difficult task. Although, it’s necessary because we have to figure out what else we need. If you have a bunch of bucktails that are beat up from being eaten by muskies, besides buying extra replacements, consider rebuilding them yourself. There is a new bucktail tying tool made by DuBro products. I recently watched a video of how it works and this tool makes rebuilding bucktails simple. Bucktail components are available in many tackle shops. You can keep this in your garage or workshop and rebuild your favorite bucktails. It’s a great way to spend a winter day!

While on the subject of workshop activities. Why not take the time to replace the hooks on your favorite lures and sharpen them as well. A pair of good quality split ring pliers and a flat-sided hook file are two must-have purchases every winter. With the heavy duty split rings we use when muskie fishing and the large hooks, I go through a pair of split rings and a couple hook files every year. Now’s the time to tweak or upgrade a few of your favorite lures and split ring pliers and a new file is a great combination to make life easier. Don’t struggle with a worn out hook file. It’s a relatively inexpensive investment that can significantly increase your odds in landing the next muskie that strikes.

Another gadget I recently saw was the Heavy Head by Musky Innovations. If you fish soft plastics such as Bulldawgs and wished they could run deeper, the Heavy head makes it possible. This is a uniquely shaped weight with metal loops on each end that attaches to the bottom nose of a Bulldawg. One loop goes over the nose of the bait where you would attach your leader and the other end goes over the hook-hanger of the front hook. This way the weight is securely fastened to the lure and will not impact hooking ability. Plus the lure is in the front to enhance the lure’s action. Whether you fish softplastics fast or slow. There always seems to be a situation to want them to run deeper and this is an easy way to accomplish it.

While walking the isles of the muskie sportshows, or browsing through catalogs or websites, consider picking up a few of the above-mentioned items. They will get your gear in top shape so you’ll be ready when it’s time to hit the water.