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Thread: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    I have only been fishing musky and tiger musky for a couple of years but have tended to do fairly well.
    I have gotten very little time on the water with seasoned musky fishermen so I have had to just go by results...and kinda learn on my own.

    In the beginning I did have a Thorne Bros rod made for my musky fishing but found that I was doing better on my lighter tackle...

    My main question is I fish VERY light tackle (rod, line, reel and even lures) relative to nearly everyone on the board here. I am wondering if I am really "missing the boat" on larger fish or better numbers.

    I tend to fish a 7'2" MH Shimano Cumara bass rod with my largest rod being a Powell 734 (7'3" MH rod).

    The line is usually 30# braid that I fish on a Daiwa Zillion or similar Daiwa reel.

    I throw a lot of bucktails, 1oz spinnerbaits and 6" swimbaits due to the size of my rod/reel/line and have yet to have a fish break me off.

    What I really want to understand is if I "upsize" what are the main advantages that I would have other than throwing larger top waters?

    Do the larger baits really produce that many more fish? When I hit Vermillion (which is where I fished the most) I usually catch about 3-4 fish a day in the 40's - have not got one over 53" as of yet.

    I live in Utah so I only get to chase fish over 45" about 3-4 weeks a year when I go up to MN or Canada.

    Would I really benefit by going to an 8'+ rod with 65#+ test and going to larger baits? Believe me...I want to catch some fish on big bulldawgs and large topwater lures...but will adding these large lures and tackle to my arsenal really change up my catch rate or size?
    The other issue is flying with rods over 7'6" can be a hassle with the airlines due to total length of the case being "too long" for some of the regional jets.

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR INPUT and if you wanna teach me how to chase the big ones with big tackle I would be thankful for your time and generosity.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Neosho, Wisconsin.

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    I started chasing muskies with bass tackle decades ago. I did OK, caught and landed some pretty good ones. As time progressed I did start to feel a little compromised with lighter tackle based on the fish I was seeing. Additionally, as you note, heavier tackle is more of a necessity for presenting big (to giant) baits as opposed to actually landing the fish you catch.

    So..... that said, if you are comfortable fishing as you have, I say go for it. Are you missing opportunities at more or larger fish? More, not necessarily. Bigger, possibly. The choice will have to be yours, my friend.

    One last advantage to heavier tackle. Hooked fish are generally quicker to the net and as a result may be more releasable than those played to the limit on lighter stuff.

    My shift from "crossover" tackle began with one pretty much with an all purpose rod/reel (7'6" St. Croix MH - 5000 series ABU Garcia) and grew from there. Once you begin using the "big stuff" it becomes easier to make the distinctions.

    Good luck to you!


    Conserve the resource, the future of musky fishing starts today

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Cedarburg, Wisconsin, USA.

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    Upsizing just lets you throw bigger baits and baits with bigger hooks. You can use heavier rods to drive hooks into bigger fish easier too. No reason other than that to do it in my opinion. I've caught muskies on 10# mono and spinning gear and they were just as releasable as winching them in with 100# test and an XXH rod. I've had more problems winching in green fish and having them go ballistic in the net causing a needlessly long unhooking process as they have hooks tangled in everything and all balled so tight you can't even get at the fish without cutting all the hooks off the bait.

    Certain lures, like jerkbaits for example, which are very effective, need heavier tackle. You can't present those lures with lighter tackle and have them come alive. If you subscribe to the current rage of anything with bigger blades, heavier weight, and more length is better you need the heavier tackle. Also, when the fish are "on", using smaller lures is very counterproductive from my experience, so I wouldn't be caught without the heavier stuff.

    If you are only using lighter lures there is no need to upsize, it will be detrimental. Every once in a while I go to bass rods and bass sized spinnerbaits when the fishing gets really tough as I do get smaller fish to hit them and an ocassional bigger fish too. In certain situations I'd rather catch something than to be garanteed nothing using the bigger stuff.

    If you fish tigers, it seems to be popular opinion that they are more susceptable to smaller lures and presenting them works well with the lighter tackle. The flowage where we fish has some naturally ocurring tigers and we have caught way more than our fair share of them using standard sized lures, just using them deeper than most people normally fish so I guess that small lure light tackle idea doesn't always work.

    In the end it comes down to use the lure that catches the fish and match the tackle to that lure.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Lino Lakes, MN, USA.

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    If you are catching 3-4 muskies a day on Vemilion you are way above the average guy for the most part. Fish up to 53" - I have yet to catch that 53" muskie;(
    2 of the very best fishermen on Vermilion - they showed it on the Muskies Inc chapter Challunge last August use a small bucktail that would not sell in the stores- and they cut most of the hair off of it. They have caught fish up to 58" I think on that bait.
    I would suggest upsizing your rod a little and get a larger reel that can hold a larger diameter superbraid line that would let you move up and fish some bigger stuff. It was not too many years ago that many guys ran several rods and one was around a 7' MH with 65 lb Tuff line and a 6500 C3 reel- Many guy's used 5550 C reels and there are a ton of them- You can get one for $30.00 that is in good shape. You may want a reel that can add SPEED to your bucktail presentation- The 5500/6500 are not speed reels. I would look at a long rod 8'6" + for the improved figure 8's they provide- but the action does not need to be anywhere as stiff as a rod that can throw Cowgirls and such. I don't know if there is a MH rod in that length or not.
    Double Cowgirls and Bulldogs have definitly changed the rod, reel, line market. Yes they are producing many of the fish but every boat has a cowgirl / bulldog in the water almost all of the time.
    I would guess that you are being bothered by many smallmouth bass as well- Mabee I should downsize?????? :+ You are certainly doing many things right that put fish in the boat. You could upsize the scale of what you can use for a minimal investment.

    Best of luck when you return this year-
    Are you comming to Vermilion this year? Where do you usually stay?


  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    San Diego, CA

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    I think we that fish regular musky tackle are probably negatively impacting our success.

    I've fished regular musky gear for over 36 years, and note that whenever I fish with guys fishing with lighter tackle, they have more action.

    For example, just last Sunday afternoon I fished with a friend who is a good bass "worm" fisherman. In the past, he's had musky action while I've fished with light musky gear and done little or nothing on the muskies, although I have caught a few bass while he catches several.

    Sunday he did get bit off, a few minutes after seeing a fish that was shallow, that we spooked while coming up on some structure that is known to hold muskies.

    I've also found that when I fish "light" musky gear, especially reapers or 6 inch shad baits on jigs, I catch a lot more fish per hour versus regular musky baits.

    That said, I do plan to fish more with unweighted baits, etc, to see if I continue to do better.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Van Buren, IN, U.S.

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    If your interested in trying some larger baits, but not wanting to invest alot of money upfront, I would just get one of the lesser expensive rods out there now (alot to choose from!) I would suggest 9' and just up the line on your Millionaire. A few baits suited for that reel would be a Phantom 7" glider or a Krave, a Kick'N Minnow, 10" Red October or Tackle Industries Tubby Tubes, if you want to throw big blades just don't burn them you'd be ok to start with that set up. My two main rods are a 9' Hulbert Rod for everything but Pounders and Big Blades. For those I use a Tackle Industries Mag Heavy or XXXHeavy. It is so light and with blades on the eight it has a soft tip and still lots of back bone. Hope that helps a little!
    Buddy Ellenburg

    Take a Kid fishing they'll have a Lifetime of Memories!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Boston, MA, USA.

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    I fish one week a year for muskies, and I suspect I fish a lot of very small
    baits compared to other folks here. #10 & 12 Xraps, 6" white curly tail jigs,
    mepps #5, 1/2 ounce terminator spinnerbaits and the like. I don't know
    what I'm missing by fishing larger baits, currently, but can tell you
    that I've been experimenting with a few things on the larger side. No success
    just yet. I finally got a topraider this year, that's pretty big for me.
    We land on average 2 fish per day, so again while not as successful
    as many folks here, I'm not going to complain at that average.

    I have upsized to a medium heavy 6 1/2 foot rod with a big shimano
    spinning reel. No, no baitcaster yet. But I do fine. The upsizing was
    specifically to make sure I had enough gusto to land a larger fish. My
    best fish to date was a 42" tiger, and it was caught on 10-pound mono
    and a medium/light outfit. Nearly killed the fish landing it. That
    was the first one, and I really didn't want to duplicate that long fight
    in the future.

    For the record, the lodge owner where I fish recommends small baits
    to most folks. The lake system produces many upper 40s fish every year,
    but seems not to have too many 50" fish. So it may be that the
    smaller baits help those of us catching mid to upper 30s fish
    all week long.

    It sounds to me like you don't need to upsize to catch fish; and you
    are catching some large fish too. I'd just make sure you're not
    undersized enough that landing a large fish is hard, takes to long,
    and increases the chance of having a big 'un die on ya.

    Not sure I helped. But hey, at least I do fish fairly light stuff.

    best of luck


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    One view is that if it works why fool with it. So long as your rods and reels handle the lures you like to throw, and you're not losing fish, stay at it. I would only spend more money if I wanted to use heavier lures and needed a rod and reel powerful enough to handle them. But what do I know?

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    A good topic and I have a question sort of along the same thread...
    Is it considered bad taste to give a musky too much drag? I watch some of the musky shows and it seems that either the drags are either very quiet of very tight. The last thing I want to do is kill one, but I give them a little line when I'm fighting them...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    RE: Who fishes light tackle? Do I need to Change my arsenal?

    I am looking at heading up to the BIG V in early september. I like staying at VDL - mainly due to the boats they have there and also I have found some pretty good spots on that end of the lake (but I have mainly fished it in June for Skis).

    I also have fish Stuntz and some of the other east end haunts but overall have done best in the narrows and west end for numbers but my personal best came from the East End (near Shamrock).

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