Metal lures and muskies match up like hot dogs and mustard during the summer months. There isn’t a bait better suited to power fishing—running and gunning a milk run of likely hangouts in search of active fish. Likewise, a muskie whose metabolism is red-lined during the warm season is bound to be attracted by the throbbing, flashing blade, vibration-producing body, and pulsating tail on a lure like the Bird-Shot Bucktail.
Yet, with all this going on, the fact remains that a lot of muskies (sometimes it seems like all of them) are content with following a lure to the boat side rather than attacking outright. This is where an angler’s skill in provoking a strike with a Figure 8 maneuver comes in. And not just any Figure 8 will do. Here are a few tips that will help you close the deal next time.
1. Make a smooth transition from the retrieve into Figure 8. Stalling the lure often breaks the fish’s target lock, and it’ll simply lose interest.
2. Go deep with the maneuver. While many fish hit the lure inches from the surface, don’t hesitate to put most of your 7- to 8½-foot muskie stick into the water. The rod won’t deter the fish’s intent to eat.
3. Go wide, too. A puny little Figure 8 won’t cut it because a muskie won’t make the tight turn required to follow the lure. Give it some width, with sweeping arcs that the muskie can follow.
4. Add an incentive to the maneuver. Some anglers like to give the spinner a “pop” with the rod tip to flair the blade and bucktail. Others alternately raise and lower the bait as it swims the Figure 8. Both are meant to trigger a strike.
5. Refrain from overdoing Figure 8. If the muskie doesn’t act as it will commit after a few maneuvers, it’s often best to drop the matter and come back later to see if it will eat.