New Blade Proves its Mettle on Pressured Water
When muskies launch into radical feeding rampages, there’s simply nothing else like it in freshwater. Jaws snap, hooks set, water explodes, and everything else just goes haywire for a while. It’s exactly the type of chaos that muskie heads live for. The problem, of course, is that these wild chomp-fests don’t happen every day. Most muskie quests consist of long hours of casting and figure-eighting, punctuated by fleeting windows of activity. Too, the success of many days is measured more in follows than actual fish in the Frabill. Further complicating matters is the dreaded “P” word. Fishing pressure on many muskie waters is at an all-time high, with scores of talented anglers jockeying for a limited number of fish.
More often than not, most of these fishermen throw blades—inline and safety pin style spinners that offer the right combination of flash, vibration, and the illusion of a substantial meal. Given the success of baits like the Double Cowgirl, you’d be silly not to. Still, like all great baits before it, the muskie love affair wasn’t destined to last forever. In the past few seasons, more and more anglers have reported difficulty getting fish to chew on them. More recently, some of the country’s top muskie men have continued scoring lots of big ‘skies on the same pressured water where the old standby lures have lost their luster. As it turns out, the ticket hasn’t been a radical change to a whole new type of presentation, but rather a minor tweak in bait selection, as well as slightly altering the way these guys retrieve them.
Earlier this season, veteran muskie guide Chae Dolsen discovered a new bait called the Boobie Trap, a double-bladed inline spinner with a few distinctive features. Dolsen, who works the heavily pressured waters of Webster Lake, Indiana as well as the muskie mecca of Lake St. Clair, Michigan, had been a longtime proponent of baits such as the Double Cowgirl. When a local tackle sales rep turned him onto the Boobie Trap, however, his catches took an immediate and dramatic jump in both size and numbers.
Meanwhile, on the waters of Ontario’s Lake of the Woods, another exceptional muskie man was doing groundbreaking work in the realm of the muskie blades. Don Schwartz, also a talented muskie lure maker, discovered over the past few seasons that it’s not just the size and shape of the blade that matters, but the thickness and composition of the metal. Like Dolsen, Schwartz has in recent seasons spent plenty of time throwing the Double Cowgirls of the world. Yet as his catches began falling off, he began studying scores of different baits, eventually narrowing things down to the absolute ultimate spinner blade. “If you take two baits, each sporting double #10 Colorado blades, identical in every other way except the thickness of the blade itself, you’d still have two lures that perform very differently,” says Schwartz. “Thinner blades, such as those on a Double Cowgirl, tend to offer slightly more water resistance, making them rotate slower and further from the shaft. This also makes them more difficult to retrieve at higher speeds.”
In contrast, Schwartz believes, thicker blades up to .05” pull through the water easier and rotate faster and closer to the shaft of the bait. “These thicker blades are nice for their ease of retrieve. But if you get too thick with your blades, I think you give up some of the powerful low-frequency vibrations that muskies hear best. Physically, a few one-hundredths of an inch in thickness seems insignificant, but from a performance standpoint, the difference is amazing.” After learning these lessons from numerous muskies, Schwartz found his perfect match—the Northland Boobie Trap. The Boobie Trap, he discovered, offered blades that were thicker than the Cowgirls, yet slightly thinner than a .05”. At the same time, he started tying his own baits, again using these key “compromise blades.” Using both baits this season, the results have been remarkable, allowing him to convert countless follows into ferocious gill-flaring strikes. “There’s just something special about these compromise blades that have been magic for muskies,” he offers. “When fish turn wise to old standby baits, it’s always not necessary to make wholesale bait changes. The standard inline spinner design is still a classic, yet not enough anglers pay close enough attention to the most important element of the bait—the blades.”
This brings us back to Chae Dolsen. On initial trips with the new bait, he would often throw a Cowgirl while his clients tossed Boobie Traps. The difference was immediately and profoundly evident. “This season,” he reports, “these Boobie Traps have just been on fire. Nearly every one of our bucktail fish has eaten this bait. Anglers in my area have really started to take note of its appeal to muskies. Using this bait, we’ve had many, many 6 to 8 fish days lately. This last week alone, I think we had close to 60 fish in the boat, including a beautiful 50-inch from St. Clair that I caught with my kids along. What a blast.”
Dolsen continues: “There’s no doubt that this bait offers something different in the blades that are convincing these fish to eat. The #10s are just slightly smaller than those on other baits. And the blades pull more easily through the water; they rotate faster and turn closer to the shaft, too. This makes them easier to burn at fast speeds. The other thing that’s been key is the position and component rigging of the upper treble hook. We’ve been hooking and landing a really high percentage of fish. Other than that, all I know is, my clients are really having fun throwing these baits, and so am I.”
As a side note, Dolsen and Schwartz haven’t been alone in their success. Recently, throwing Boobie Traps, Walker, Minnesota guide Bob Landreville boated six muskies in a single day. Guide Paul Nelson of Bemidji, Minnesota has put together an amazing string of recent success. And word is, Tim Anderson of Big Fish Hunt guide service has been putting a big hurt on monsters up to 53 inches, casting, well, you know.