watching a bobber the size of a baseball bob around from the weight of a
large sucker minnow is not your way of ending the musky season, than
jigging rubber may be for you. Believe me, jigging is an extremely
effective alternative to bait fishing. Before I get into the how to of
jigging, let me tell you a story that happened to me and a friend of
mine several years ago. We had been fishing one of our favorite musky
waters every week from early to late fall, and had been having success
on normal jerkbait presentations. About two weeks before the water got
hard the fishing got harder. We spent the better part of two days
pounding the daylights out of water that previous weeks held many fish.
I fished weighted Suicks, Reef Hogs, Wades Wobblers, and every other
jerkbait under the sun, and not even a follow to show for our efforts.
By the second afternoon we both agreed it must be sucker time. WRONG!
my musky box I had thrown a couple 3/8 ounce bass jigs and an assortment
of rubber (lizards, reapers, shad, etc...) and out of frustration I
thought that I would give one of them a try. I rigged up a reaper on a
jig and gave it a toss. On my first cast I was rewarded with a nice fat
42-incher. Immediately my partner George rigged a similar set up and on
his second cast he caught a 40-inch plus fish, thus removing all doubt
that my first fish may have been a fluke. In the next 2 ½ hours we
boated 7 muskies, 5 of which were over 40 inches, with the largest being
a heavy 45 inch fish. We basically fished the same water that we had
pounded the previous two days. We spent the next few years refining our
equipment and methods and we discovered many things.
I will begin with equipment. Any
quality baitcasting reel that works for bass will be suitable for
jigging musky, with the new super lines that are on the market now, line
capacity is no longer a concern. For me the ideal jigging reel is an abu
Garcia 5500c with the 6500 working equally as well.
As far as line goes it is hard to beat
many of the new super lines in the 20 to 30 lb range. The smaller
diameter lets your jig sink faster and it also cuts thru weeds better,
they can make a musky rod seem as sensitive as your best walleye rod. It
will enable you to detect the slightest bit of weeds on your line or
jig, and with a good sharp snap of your rod tip you can usually pull
away clean. It also allows for bone jarring hook sets. On the end of my
line I attach an 8 inch stranded leader that is twisted not crimped.
rods I prefer a 7 ft or 7 ft 6 in medium heavy bucktail rod, if you go
with a lighter bass rod you will have a tough time getting good hook
sets, even with super lines. Hook sets are more important than
Now comes the important part - tackle.
I have tried just about everything rubber that there is and I always
come back to a 6 inch black lizard on a 3/8 ounce bullet head bass jig.
I have tried the bigger 9-inch lizards but it seems like I miss a lot
more fish with them. The jigs I use have a bristle weed guard and I will
remove about 70 % of the bristles. I think that it ups my odds of good
To fish this combination I simply cast
it out, let it sink to the bottom, then I will give it 3 or 4 pumps back
towards the boat and then let it sink to the bottom again. There will be
no doubt in your mind when a fish hits. It will be a walleye hit times
ten. Unlike other musky baits the fish will be in no hurry to spit this
out, allowing you time to reel up any slack line, and then set the hook
as hard as you can. Hang on tight when you set the hook as I have had
clients drop the rod in the water on the hook set. This set up from jig
to reel has very little give.
As any real estate agent will tell you
the three most important things are location, location, location, this
is just as important when jigging for musky, thank heavens its easy to
figure out. Once the weeds begin to die off the fish will relate to the
nearest vertical structure. So concentrate your efforts on the sharp
drops closest to the areas that you found fish on the previous weeks. If
you locate any standing green vegetation close to these drops you have
found a potential hot spot. You can have a lot of fish in a relatively
small area this time of year, so if you locate a fish feel confident
that there are several more in the immediate area. Once you have located
several of these areas just keep hitting them throughout the day and
eventually good things will happen.
Remember that everything stated here is
tried and true for me. That is not to say that different combinations of
rubber, jigs or equipment may work better for you. Half the fun of
fishing is refining methods and equipment to fit your abilities and the
water that you fish. So the next time that you are out after late season
lunge, give jigging rubber a try, you will be pleasantly surprised. Just
remember to let em go to let em grow.