The muskellunge, or muskie, is one of the most sought-after fish in North America. Here are the lures you need to put one on the end of your line.
As the largest member of the pike family, the muskie is one of the most beautiful freshwater fish in the Americas and perhaps the most rewarding to fish for.
Primarily found in the northern and northeastern regions of the United States, as well as across the border in Canada, these monsters of the water are something of a destination fish for many anglers. There are countless ways to target muskie, from topwater lures to jigs that dance below the surface.
Whether you live in muskie territory and are looking to try your hand at a new sport or are planning a big fishing trip to the north, consider filling your tackle box with these seven top baits and lures for muskie fishing.
The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is precisely why the Mepps Magnum Musky Killer Bucktail will forever remain on our list of top muskie baits.
Anglers have been using bucktails to catch muskie for almost as long as people have been targeting these fish in the first place. It’s the perfect muskie lure for the summer months, and these lures are responsible for countless trophy fish.
It’s simple design and variety of colors provide the ideal combination for novice and professional anglers alike. As a bonus, if you get hooked on muskie fishing, you can learn to make bucktails, which adds an extra element of fun and ownership to the fishing experience.
- Time tested
- Easy to fish
- Various colors and sizes
- Not great for fishing in weeds
Crankbaits are classic muskie baits, and the Musky Mania Jake Crankbait has long been a leader in this realm. When reeling this lure back to the boat, its motion is unrivaled. It has a shake, flash, and wobble that all combine remarkably well to mimic a dying fish — a hungry muskie’s dream!
Because of its natural water movement, the Jake Crankbait is an excellent option for beginner anglers. It does most of the work for you!
- Easy and realistic movement
- Good lure for deep weeds
- Time tested
- Triple treble hooks can get tangled
- Triple treble hooks can be hard to remove for novice anglers
The Whopper Plopper is undeniably one of the best topwater lures on the market and is a great option for targeting trophy muskies. As a topwater lure, the Whopper Plopper earns its keep by splashing and swirling its tail as you reel it back to the boat. This mimics a fish dying on the surface and will draw up monsters from the deep looking for a quick and easy meal.
You will get the most out of your Whopper Plopper during the summer months and on calm mornings or evenings, where its splashing action will pack the biggest punch. It’s a good intermediate lure, as anglers can begin to play with speed and consistency while bringing it back to the boat.
- Easy to cast
- Fun, playful retrieval
- Affordable (with even cheaper knockoff brands)
- Durability of the tail
The Suick Thriller is widely regarded as the first muskie lure and has helped anglers catch the big one for almost a century. Because it has been around for so long, the Suick Thriller is a great no-frills lure.
You can play with the metal tail to adjust its action in the water, but generally, these wooden lures are jerk baits that require the caster to make the lure look and act like a hurt baitfish.
Like bucktails, the Suick comes in many sizes and colors — allowing experienced anglers to play with these variables. It takes some skill and practice to perfect, but you’ll quickly discover why these old lures are still being produced today.
- Easy to set hooks
- Suitable for many conditions and lake types
- Realistic movement with practice
- Not great for novice anglers
The jointed believer is one of the most versatile muskie baits out there and can be used in various conditions. Given its design, the Jointed Believer can be fished from 20 feet deep all the way to the surface — and all points in between.
You can string it to your leader from one of two eyelets, allowing shallow trolling or deep dives. If you’re fishing weeds, reel in slowly to allow the bait to skim the surface. If you’re on a dropoff, reel quicker to make it dive.
You can also treat it as a crankbait or jerk bait — whichever you prefer. No matter how you fish this versatile lure, it’s guaranteed to produce!
- Very versatile
- Great lure for novices looking to practice retrieval technique
- Jointed and non-jointed varieties
- Pricey at $23 a lure
While a bit on the expensive side ($12-40), Musky Mayhem’s Double Cowgirl is an excellent lure for beginners that regularly produces fish for avid anglers. Similar to others listed above, the Double Cowgirl does all the work for you upon retrieval.
While similar to a bucktail, this lure has two treble hooks and two spinner blades to create added vibration in the water. Its nylon fibers are also a bit more durable than bucktail alternatives.
It’s simple in design yet mimics actual fish remarkably well. The Double Cowgirl can be fished effectively in all conditions and is frequently used by novice and professional anglers alike.
- Great for beginners
- Time tested muskie magnet
- More expensive than similar lures for muskie fishing
With a floating, hollow body and fairly realistic mouse appearance, the LIVETARGET Field Mouse is an effective, albeit strange, lure for pike, muskies, and bass.
We’ve seen a muskie slam this lure as it floated in weeds in a lake near Minneapolis while one of our editors was out on a casual fishing trip with a buddy. So yes, a hungry muskie will much this lure, which is highly rated (4.3 stars at Cabela’s).
- Weedless design avoids snags
- Floating body can be effective with minimal skill
- Odd design compared to most lures may catch wary fish off guard
- Pond scum can build up on lure and cause it to sink
- Not extremely durable; fish can damage body and tail when striking