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Tips to keep the muskie on the line

6/13/16 @ 8:44 AM
User since 8/18/11

On Friday I hooked up with my first muskie of 2016.  Solid upper 30s fish that hit on the figure 8.  The fight lasted all of about 4 seconds and ended when the fish jumped out of the water and spit out the lure.  That is the fourth muskie in a row that I've lost before getting it in the net, dating all the way back to last summer.  What am I doing wrong?  Its hard enough to get the fish to eat, I'm getting frustrated in losing the fish before I can get it in the net.  I decided to focus on strong hooksets, which I thought I did on Friday, but I still lost it.  Does anyone have any tips on how to keep the fish on the line long enough to net it?

Thank you!

6/20/16 @ 10:48 PM
User since 1/26/13

I've been musky fishing for about 30 years. This is what I do that works the best for me when I figure 8. The first thing is to do this deep, get the rod tip down about 4 feet in the water. Two reasons your not watching the fish strike, your feeling for it. Secondly it gives a longer hookset when you pull the rod up. Your not jerking the rod, your pulling against the weight of the fish. That's what drives the hooks home! Many times fish clamp down on the bait hurting your hooksets. Ask any guide lots of clients lose big fish from this. I normally use a minimum 65 lb braid and heavy or extra heavy rod. I figure eighted a 48 inch 29 pounder last Monday. Released unharmed. Good luck.

6/19/16 @ 2:39 PM
B Fish
User since 6/26/10

A few things not mentioned already.

1. Is your drag set well so the fish can get a way from the boat? Or in my case I crank my drag down very tight and normally free spooled to allow the fish to get away from the boat during a hit on the 8.

2. Have youself in a good position during the figure 8, don't just go through the motions. Drive the hooks back at the fish which will drive them in versus pulling the bait away.

3. When the fish is rising toward the surface to jump, put your rod tip low (maybe even into the water) so the angle on the line pulls the fish down and prevents a jump.

4. As said before sharp hook. If you are not picking yourself and bleeding on a regular basis your hooks are not sharp. Do a search on this as it is a complete different subject.

6/18/16 @ 11:11 AM
drummer boy
drummer boy
User since 3/14/08

The type of lure makes a lot of differance in hooking percent.Plastic is a little better then wood,teeth do not sink as deep.Bucktails are very good but then again you have to use the lure that is hot and do the best you can on keeping them on.Thats what makes it fun at close range all fish not just muskie are hard to keep pinned.

6/16/16 @ 2:37 PM
muskie nut
muskie nut
User since 6/26/01

Many things happen at boatside and many times it doesn't go right.  Many on this thread have steered you in the right direction.  I will add that if these fish didn't put on a show like they do when hooked, I really doubt if we'd be chasing them.  And when they do go ballistic, there are times even when you play them right you still lose them.  Just be thankful that we aren't counting on them for our survival, I know I starve if I had to count on them for a meal.

One thought on the rods, softer tips will keep the line tight more often while there is a good bend in the rod.  A stouter rod may be able to drive the hooks home better.  I keep the rod in my dominate hand so that I don't have to pass the rod back and forth between casts, harder and quicker hooksets, and I am able to impart better action on those erratic baits.

Good luck


6/16/16 @ 8:36 AM
User since 5/21/03

Yah, jumps are cool to see, but that is their #1 way to throw a lure.  When you feel that line coming up, get your rod in the water and try to keep pressure on them to stay down.

And one of the "rookie" mistakes that I see from guys who aren't overly experienced at catching muskies is setting the rod up on a figure 8 bite.  If you do that, odds are that fish will follow the pressure and be out of the water in a minute.  Then either your leader fails, split rings fail, rod breaks, line breaks, or the fish's flesh tears and hooks come out.  You can see which one is more likely.  Set the hook sideways and move the bait through the fish's mouth and then keep your rod in the water and walk that fish around the boat.

6/14/16 @ 11:06 AM
User since 8/18/11

Thanks for all the tips, they are very much appreciated.  I do sharpen my hooks on a regular basis, though I'll take care to do it even more.  I used a fishing guide a couple years ago and I noticed he sharpened them even after snags and bumps, which I don't currently do.  It's tough to want to stop fishing and spend time sharpening the hooks.  I don't know which brand of sharpener I use.  I usually test the sharpness by dragging the hook point across my fingernail.  If it scratches then it is sharp enough.

My rod is a St Croix Musky Mojo.  Could that be too flexible?

vegas492, you did mention bad things happening when they jump.  I think that is when each of the last four spit the lure.  I'll have to focus on trying to steer them down or to the side rather than up to the boat.

Thanks guys!

6/13/16 @ 8:27 PM
User since 5/1/11

Can't say it enough, sharpen hooks. Even new hooks need to be sharpened. 

6/13/16 @ 11:06 AM
User since 5/21/03

I lost my first 13 fish one season.  I was using a rod with too much flex in the tip and it wasn't driving the hooks home.  Went back to a heavier rod and now fish stay pinned.  So, it could be that.

As posted, it could also be hook sharpness.  

And if the fish is gonna jump, or is boatside, get your rod in the water to keep them down.  Bad things happen when they jump.  

Could also be your hookset.  I know it is difficult, but try to set the hook sideways away from the fish so as to move the bait through the mouth and get hooks into the corner of the jaw.  

All little things man.  All little things that can be done to keep 'em pinned. And still there will be fish that will come off.  It is just how it works.

6/13/16 @ 10:55 AM
User since 6/19/01

First thing that comes to mind is what type of hook sharpener are you using?  Sharp hooks and a tight line should keep most pinned.

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