Have you ever fallen victim to the old angling adage; “muskies are the fish of 10,000 casts.”
Lots of anglers fall into a mindless routine, flinging cast after cast with little thought except cranking the lure back in so it can be pitched out again. Then it happens. A muskie takes a swipe at your lure alongside the boat, but misses it!
Anglers chasing muskies by using crankbaits — any time of year — can dramatically improve results by paying as much attention to finishing their casts correctly as they do when selecting targets to cast toward.
“Did you see that?” you shout at your partner. “Dang-it, he missed the lure completely!” You flog the water to a froth with repeated casts — right where the muskie disappeared –but the fish never comes back. Too late! You should have used a “rip” or a “rise” and finished the cast with a “figure-eight.” And after reading this article, you will!
Anglers chasing muskies by using crankbaits — any time of year — can dramatically improve results by paying as much attention to finishing their casts correctly as they do when selecting targets to cast toward. This is how:
The “rise” is a trick for use with shallow-diving crankbaits on clear waters. Stop your retrieve about 25 feet from the boat. Allow the crankbait to begin rising toward the surface on a slack line. Some anglers recommend using very soft “twitches” of the rod tip as the lure rises. Once the lure reaches the surface, let it lie motionless for a few seconds. Twitch it once or twice, then resume whatever retrieve you were using to bring the lure back to the boat.
The “rip” is used with deep diving cranks in lakes having medium to clear waters. While working these deep divers, your line will be coming off the rod tip and extending almost straight down into the water near the end of the retrieve. At the point when the lure is about 10 feet from the boat, suddenly rip the rod upward as though you were setting the hook. The object is to cause your crankbait to suddenly “rip” up off bottom. This action may make it appear to be a baitfish fleeing from the muskie you hope is following, and can trigger strong hits.
The “finishing touch” is a well-executed figure eight done directly at boat side. This is especially critical when using crankbaits, and can easily double your catch. Entire articles have been written about how to “figure eight” correctly, and some anglers view it as too complicated. Or perhaps they are not motivated enough to finish off their casts in this way.
Some anglers say that they only use the figure eight when they can see a muskie following. If this is your decision, make sure you watch very closely as the lure comes in! In addition, the lake you are fishing better be clear enough to allow excellent underwater visibility. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen muskies — even large ones — seemingly show up “out of nowhere.”
The most important thing when finishing up a cast is a sudden change in direction for the lure as it approaches the boat. What I have found most productive is to make the lure run deep on the figure eight.
I have not found it necessary to trace a perfect “8” shape with my rod when finishing a cast. The most important thing seems to be a sudden change in direction for the lure as it approaches the boat. What I have found most productive is to make the lure run deep on the figure eight. With shallow diving cranks, I will plunge about half the rod length down into the water and trace a large 8 pattern with well-rounded corners (hopefully to allow a large fish to follow more easily). When I fish from the bow of my boat, I simply trace a large “inverted U” path that follows the boat’s shape around the point.
With deep diving cranks, I usually don’t put the rod tip into the water at all. Instead, when four or five feet of line remains out, I begin a smooth “sideways” movement of the rod tip, continue well off to one side, then reverse the direction of this sideways movement. The lure responds by changing from a path of travel toward the boat to a direction roughly parallel with the boat. All the while, my rod tip stays out of the water, where I feel I have better control if a fish suddenly smashes the lure. And believe me, I have had a number of them strike so viciously that my rod was slammed down against the boat’s gunnels.
Remember one thing when chasing muskies. If you can remain confident while fishing, you’ll always catch more fish! Using the “rip,” “rise” and “figure-eight” will constantly remind you that you are paying attention and expect to land a lunker. And it will happen.