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Thread: Advice for a beginner

  1. #1

    Advice for a beginner

    I have always wanted a chance to get into musky/northern pike fishing, but have always lived too far south. Then, after my most recent move, I found out that Hazel Creek Lake (near Kirksville, MO), which is only a few miles from here, is stocked with muskies. Very few people around here fish for them so the fishing is supposed to be pretty good. My problem is that I am mostly equipped for bass and crappie. Right now, my heaviest rod is a medium-light action strung with 8 lb. line. Most of my lures are for bass, and they tend to be on the small side as I typically fish farm ponds and smaller lakes. I've looked into musky lures and noticed that they can be pretty expensive.

    Do I need a new rod? If so, what would you recommend (I have never used a baitcasting reel)? Which bass lures will work for muskies? I don't mind buying a few more, and I don't mind paying a little more if they will catch fish, but I need to know what I'm doing. And I'm guessing it's tough to get a musky into the boat without a net? Is there anything else I should know?


  2. #2
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Just to start I would recommend the 8' Musky Mojo med heavy action rod from St Croix -- go for about $150. This will handle most basic baits. For an inexpensive reel I would recommend the Pflueger trion baitcaster -- they run about $100. This will be a good introductory set up. I would just pick up a few small to med bucktails, crankbaits, and a topwater and off you go. I'm sure a few of your bigger bass baits would work as well. Spinner baits work great at certain times --lots of bass guys catch and/or lose baits to muskies.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    dreaming of next season
    I agree an 8' mh rod would be a great start. For reels you could get a 6500 abu or the shimano cqrdiff. The net and release tools are almost more important than a nice rod but both are necessary. A nice muskie net , hook cutters, long needlenose pliers, jaw spreaders and a camera should all be on the list. Get a decent mh fast action muskie rod and get some bucktails up to #8s, a top water, and a bulldawg and you will have enough to get addicted. Try to land them fast keep them in the net in the water to unhook and work with them. Snap a quick pic and get them back in the water to grow some more. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    San Diego, CA
    My advice is that you don't need large lures or heavy action rods and reels. To get started I'd suggest smaller lures, such as Baby ShallowRaider, Rizzo Whiz, Mepps Musky Killer, etc. You might even use smaller rubber, such as Spring Dawgs, Jig/Reaper, etc.

    You'll probably want something more on the medium-heavy to heavy bass action for a rod, and existing reels spooled with 8-12 lb mono (or better yet comparable diameter superlines) should be OK.

    You can land big fish with lighter tackle, though you may lose some too!

    I do recommend release equipment, especially a long pliers such as found on the MH site. I use the pliers often... and you want a long one for your safety!!

    Also a small one-hand hook cutter can be very beneficial. I was fishing one day earlier this week and a fellow in another boat caught a mid-30's inch fish, netted it, and was having a bad time getting the hooks out. He caught it on a Baby ShallowRaider. Anyhow, he had a mess, and had the fish out of the water much long than should have been necessary. I offered assistance, and he cut hooks with my cutter and released the fish. I don't use it often, but you can buy one for about $12.

    Of course, if you decide you need to go bigger... and you most likely will after some successes, then buy what you can afford. You can find good stuff on eBay for a lot less. Ask on this board and many of us have older stuff we'd sell you for minimal $$.
    Last edited by BLL_BIGFISH; 08-30-2013 at 10:19 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Campbellsville, KY.


    My opinion on this is .. if You are "targeting" Muskies use proper equipment, the worst thing that happens in Muskie Fishing are "break-off's" .. that is when the Lure is "disconnected" from the line .lodged in the Muskie's mouth & eventually results in death of the Muskie! You do not have to use expensive equipment to avoid this. 1st. thing is never use "mono" or "floro" (except floro leaders 100# & test) use a quality "super-braid" preferably 50# or higher, for example My Wife can not cast a Baitcaster so She uses a 7ft. Shimano Muskie spinning rod with a small "salt water" spinning reel, 50# Suffix 832 and a "single strand" 80# leader which I make , no need for "Flouro" where We fish because the water is dirty most of the year. She has successfully landed many Muskies up to 52in. without a "break-off". The rod You use is a personable choice, the reel also, they are "tool's" & just a "delivery system" . Make sure You use Proper line, leader & KNOT!! Don't use junk or "heavy Bass tackle" get the right stuff! Don't go Bear Hunting with a "Squirrel Gun". Good luck, Mike.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    IL, USA.
    Realizing that funds are limited, getting the book "The Complete Guide to Musky Hunting" available from the Musky Hunter website, would be a good purchase. you do need, as was stated, Musky Grade Equipment. the only exception i can think of to that would be a smaller leader with a lipless crankbait (like a Rat-L-Trap) on a bass flippin' stick rod. 65# test superline or something at least in the 30# test range would be good.
    after that, go with a good guide at least once if you can afford it and ask him every question you have. if you can't afford that, see if you can take or go with someone who has some experience. perhaps someone with the closest Muskies, Inc. chapter can take you. going with someone experienced will really shorten the learning curve. read all you can, watch all the musky shows on tv, but realize they are showing you the catches, not all the time put in between. most of them will readily admit that.
    that's my opinion and opinions as stated before, are like armpits. everyone has them and some of them stink.
    perhaps instead of bucktails (generic term for any in-line spinner) you might consider spinnerbaits, (open safety pin shaped, with blade or blades and some kind of hair or plastic skirt.) the spinnerbait style are more snagless than the in-line bucktails. but be sure to use musky grade lures. you don't want a spinnerbait with an 'R' bend like you would use for bass. you want twisted wire where you attach the snap.
    Good Luck and have fun. don't get discouraged and wait until the water is below 80 degrees before you try to catch one on purpose.
    Dave F

  7. #7
    Thanks for the advice. I'm getting ready to order some stuff and I just had a few questions.

    First, when it comes to reels, does anyone know anything about the Shimano Corvalus or the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur SX? They are about $30 cheaper than the Cardiff and the C3 6500, so I was wondering if they would make decent starter reels or if I should go ahead and spend the extra now.

    Now with lures, what are some colors to start with? For bass, my experience has been that colors can be divided into 3 basic groups: Bright (white, chartreuse, red), Dark (black, blue, brown), and Gaudy (multiple bright colors, mainly used in muddy water or where visibility is low). Spinner blades tend to come in either gold or silver. Within groups, colors are somewhat interchangeable, the most important factor being visibility, without looking so out of place that you scare the fish away. I've noticed that musky lures seem to come in brighter colors than what I'm used to. Should I be buying brighter colors or should I just start with the basics (black, white, chartreuse) and go from there. And what about blade colors? If I was going to buy one or two bulldawgs and 2-3 bucktails (probably Mepps) to start with, what are some colors that you would recommend?

    One more question regarding hook cutters. When I go fishing I have a Leatherman on my belt and a pair of needle-nose pliers that I keep in my tackle box. I've used both to cut hooks before, albeit lighter hooks (marabou crappie jigs make great cat toys). Will these work?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    St. Germain, Wisconsin
    I would invest more money in the heavier duty reel. A Corvalus is a decent reel but I'd spend a little more and buy a Cardiff. I've had much better long term track record with that reel. The SX series from Abu is pretty much a bass reel and frankly you'd be better off with the classic 6500 or even 5500 C3 than the SX.
    Don't know the water you're fishing but here is the general rule of thumb on lure colors. Clear water go with more natural colors and dark/stained/muddy water go with brighter/hot colors.
    Regarding your particular lures mentioned I have found that a straight black Bulldawg is tough to beat and then colors like walleye (gold) and cisco (silver) variations do well most of the time. For Mepps I would get brown squirrel with a gold blade, black with a silver blade, and for dark water I like the yellow tail with firetiger blade. That last one may not be a stock color so you can easily purchase a couple extra tails in different colors and switch the tails out with the blades using a split ring pliers to swap them out.

    NO, do not try using your Leatherman for cutting musky hooks. You will ruin your tool and they will not cut stronger hooks. When there is a need to cut you want a tool that will get the job done fast. The most popular on the market are Knipex cutters but they are expensive. Worth every nickel in my opinion but you can get away with something like midget bolt cutters. The Great Neck tool comes to mind and Bucher has one that is very similar that cost under twenty bucks.

    I sure understand where you're coming from just getting into this sport. It can be a little pricey getting the initial setup but by spending a little more to get better gear you will not regret it. Even if it takes more time to put together your rig. Don't go cheap on stuff like rods, reels, line, and leaders. Just like anything else, you get what you pay for. Muskies are a whole different critter than bass and when things start happening they happen fast. Equipment failure or undergunning your gear is one of the pitfalls you can avoid and give you a much smoother entry into the sport.
    Good luck.

  9. #9
    I've got all the gear in and am eagerly awaiting my first chance to make it out to the lake. I just have a question about leaders. How do you determine the proper length and weight? I'm guessing that I can use a heavier leader for a fast moving bucktail than for finesse tactics or topwaters? I have a kit so I can make my own leaders (I thought this would be especially handy for stinger hooks), so I can make them any size. I know 12" is a good all-around size, and in Hazel Creek it probably isn't super important. According to the Conservation Dept., visibility averages 3-5 ft. By the time a fish is that close they're mostly focused on the lure and if they can spot 80 lb test wire, they can probably spot 40 lb. test. But I would like to know some guidelines. I've spent enough time in Wisconsin to know that what is considered "clear" water in Missouri is nothing like the crystal clear, natural lakes up north.

  10. #10
    A 12" leader in most cases is enough. If you troll at all, longer is better since you have the potential to get more abrasions on the leader. As far as the reels.... I have several of the SX Abu's and they have served well. Bear in mind though, that they are not made to last casting heavy lures day in and day out. If you are going to occasionally use them and possibly get more serious, then by all means go with the best you can afford. It's been my experience that new to bait casting people will have a hard time using the 5500, 6500 'old round' reels, in comparison to the SX type low profile reels. You'll be clearing backlashes constantly if you are unfamiliar with the round reels. All the advice above is great advice. This sport is not cheap if you are just starting out. Best advice I saw above is to contact a local MI chapter and find someone who will show you the ropes. If you like it, get involved with the local MI chapter. They will significantly shorten that learning curve and help you be successful so you don't get discouraged. Good luck and report back with successes and "lessons" that you need help with! Oh, and DON'T FORGET to FIGURE 8!!!

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