Modern sports stores offer fishing lures aisle after aisle, and the abundance can be intimidating.
This is especially true for those who are into muscle lung fishing. Muscle lung baits come in many different sizes, styles, and colors. The most popular baits often cost more than $ 25. As a result, it’s easy to spend $ 100 and only show three or four baits.
So what baits should you buy when you are ready to start muscle lung fishing?
My suggestion is to keep it simple. To do this, choose a single bait from each of the four popular bait categories. This is an inexpensive way to fill your tackle box with a wide variety of baits. When adding to your collection, make sure you have both medium and large baits and light and natural colors. Don’t miss our “Should Know” About Muskie Fishing in Minnesota.
A large spinnerbait makes great bait because it creates lightning and vibrations that attract muscle lungs for prey. A spinnerbait has shiny metal blades that spin like a propeller as the bait is wound through the water. Spinnerbaits come in two main types: “inline” and “safety pin”, the former due to its linear appearance and the latter due to its safety pin shape. A spinnerbait is easy to cast and can also be trolled. A safety pin spinnerbait with a single hook turned up is ideal for throwing over and dipping into weed beds as it is almost weed free. Many muscle lung anglers still fish with the classic bucktail spinner, while others prefer those with marabou or tinsel skirting.
Topwater bait is surface bait. It attracts fish by creating excitement on the surface. Some baits have propellers. Some have tail sections that twist and squirt. Some are designed to recreate a dying or injured fish if it is dragged or popped through the water. The three main types of topwater bait are walk-the-dog bait, prop bait, and creeper bait. Topwater baits are fun to fish, in part because surface hits can be seen to explode. It is especially fun to fish in calm, shallow water.
Crankbaits are another choice for muscle lung anglers as they mimic large bait fish. Crank baits come in many shapes and sizes, but essentially it’s a tough type of bait – with or without a dip lip – that wiggles naturally-looking when found. Crank baits are a great choice for fishing over rocky structures or along weed edges. Crankbaits can also be trolled, making them a good option if you want to cover a lot of water in a short amount of time.
Soft baits and soft plastic baits are becoming increasingly popular for fishing in deep water. These sinking lures, some of which weigh up to three quarters of a pound, often have long serpentine tails. Rubberbaits can be fished in different ways. Some anglers prefer a straight retrieve. Some reel in using a pull-pause-pull technique that mimics a dying baitfish as it ascends and descends. Others like to orient these large baits vertically. As with other baits, experiment with your retrieves and determine what works for you and the fish.
Today, many muscle lung anglers have dozens of lures. Still, you can do well with far less. If you own one or two of these types of bait, you are likely in good shape for most muscle lung waters. They’re perfect companions to a sturdy rod with a bait reel, heavy braided line weighing 50 pounds or more, and a foot-length steel or fluorocarbon leader between your line and your bait. You need a leader because muscle lungs have razor sharp teeth that are easy to cut through your line.
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CB Bylander is a longtime Minnesota angler with extensive angling experience throughout the state. He is a former field editor for outdoor magazines, outdoor editor for daily newspapers, and communications specialist for the Ministry of Natural Resources.