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When Size Matters

By Steve Heiting:  Should we be casting big baits for muskies or downsizing? That’s a great question and can vary hour to hour, day to day, and week to week. Generally, I start small early in the season, but when I hear fishermen telling tales of muskies grabbing the walleyes they’re fighting, it’s time to go big. Unless it’s a late spring, that time will already have arrived when musky seasons open in northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada.

Think about it. A 15-inch walleye is bigger than 90 percent or more of the lures in your tackle box. If muskies are telling us they want the big stuff, why not give it to them? And, given the track record of giant bucktails like Mepps’ H210 and Musky Mayhem’s Double Cowgirl, or the bigger Bull Dawgs and other soft plastics, why buck the trend?

I start my day planning to cast bigger baits and stick with them if they produce. However, there are times when it pays to downsize. Cold front conditions (bluebird days with no humidity) are definitely one of these times, though by nightfall you might want to switch back to big lures for a last-light bite, which may be your best shot of the day. Heavy fishing pressure or a tournament may dictate a move to smaller baits, to give fish that have seen nothing but big baits something else. An individual fish that follows a big bait but doesn’t eat may be triggered by a smaller presentation.

The final scenario involves fishing with someone who just wants to catch a musky and doesn’t care how big it is. Then, fishing a lake with high numbers of smaller muskies is the plan for the day, and a 6-inch minnowbait or Mepps Musky Killer is hard to beat.

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