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bait from the fish’s perspective, there are two conclusions one can draw from its design, based solely upon its visual appearance. It may be that the predator - in this case the muskie - interprets the lure as a large single target, such as a smallmouth, crappie, whitefish or any other deep-bodied forage. Or the muskie may see the lure as a smaller predator relating to a group of even smaller prey. Strike King has now introduced a bass version based on these same observations. Regardless, whether your choice is a spinnerbait or bucktail, you are presenting from within one of the two most versatile and productive lure groups in the sport today. When, where, why and how to use a spinnerbait are all questions that will eventually need addressing. Adapting to fit the conditions can make all the difference, as was the case years ago while fishing with Marv Kiley. We were on one of the most famous muskie lakes in North America, but the conditions we faced made it hard to succeed. The skies were high and had been so for days. The system we were fishing was deep and clear. What was the answer? We fished mid-lake humps, some of the most isolated and often remote locations in the system. Marv convinced me we would need to slow-roll very heavy spinnerbaits over and around barren humps topping off at no more than twenty feet. The results were incredible. Marv was aware of the presentation’s value, the fish were there, and the spinnerbaits mimicked something that appeared natural to the muskie. It’s not uncommon to find muskies suspending off deeper structure during such conditions. Let’s examine the entire slow rolling technique. The key is to let the lure fall naturally after the cast, counting it down to the desired depth. The spinnerbait’s blades will helicopter during the free fall if the lure balance is correct, and this is a key to the technique – many strikes will come on the initial drop. Think about this: have you ever been in the presence of another muskie angler and heard them tell of getting a backlash while casting a spinnerbait, only to end up getting bit in the process of retrieving their lure after removing the backlash? I have, and it’s not all that uncommon. Next, as the name implies, simply retrieve your bait slowly while trying to keep it in the fish’s zone as long as possible. These slow, passive deepwater approaches can often be met by the powerful resistance of very large fish. When you feel the blade vibration stop mid-retrieve, set the hook! On another trip, Tim McCully and I were fishing together on Lake of the Woods during a very tough period. We were confident we could catch fish every day, and we did. However, they proved to be much smaller than expected. During the last few days of the shoot I decided to concentrate my efforts on smaller weedy areas offering a slightly deeper than average access for the muskie. My primary targets lay just in front of sandy beach areas containing cabbage, coontail and walleye. The walleyes in this case were as important as the vegetation. The problem was getting the muskies that were in the area to respond. I decided on the last day to slow roll an M&G Muskie Tandem through an area. On my very first cast with my M&G, a 53 ½ inch monster totally devoured my spinnerbait with a slow roll presentation. An almost impossible week was capped off by three fish in less than a half hour from this single little weed bed, including a 49 incher and a 45 incher! Another great technique is called bulging your spinnerbait. The best lures for bulging will have Colorado or Indiana blades – with their wide profile, these blade styles create a large amount of lift and vibration. The key is to keep your spinnerbait high in the water column while sometimes making contact with submerged objects such as vegetation, in an attempt to draw muskies from their cover. Your location will more often than not be relative to weed beds. Bulging has been going on for years and should be considered when other presentations are failing, such as calm sunny periods when you can expect the muskie to be using heavy weed beds. How many of us actually concentrate on spinnerbaiting the bulrushes? When Lindy reintroduced the M&G spinnerbait, things began to change. On a Simply Fishing episode, Matt Thompson and I found ourselves concentrating on a bulrush pattern that was developing before our eyes. We noticed on the first few days a small amount of crayfish activity taking place on the fringe areas of the bulrushes. We had been seeing some muskies outside the bulrushes on Poe’s Giant Jackpots, but as the trip progressed, they seemed to go away. We Churn It Up with an Assassin-X Bigger the blade, better the thump. But be aware they will also be harder, much harder to pull.

A-Team Tackle Jessie Says “You will be hooked on the ASSASSIN-X the first time you use it”. the Assassin-X A-Tackle company Aggressor-X Avenger-X Assassin-X Agitator-X eam www.ateamtackle.com quickly realized that the fish were moving further into the rushes following none other than the crayfish. We switched to spinnerbaits to penetrate the bulrushes. The rewards for this effort were handsome as we boated a healthy 50 inch plus muskie that would otherwise have gone unmolested. Spinnerbaits with willow leaf blades are a speed lure, and trust me when I say speed kills. There are times when all the muskie seems to want is speed. When the waters are experiencing a warming trend and the column is filled with areas of sparse vegetation, anglers can expect to be required to cover lots of water looking for roaming fish. Willow leaf designs allow you to do just that, cover water and cover it effectively. The large elongated blade design reminiscent of the willow leaf reflects vast amounts of light, therefore putting flash high on the list of productive qualities. Today we have painted, plated and polished blades to choose from. But the style I like the most when it comes to willow leafs is the hammered blade – like the facets of a diamond, its uneven surface reflects light in many directions. As I said, spinnerbaits are among the most versatile baits in the muskie angler’s arsenal. Keep the tails dry while stored, the hooks sharp while in the water and enjoy. Bob Mehsikomer is the host of “Simply Fishing” Television series seen weekly throughout North America. To learn more about Bob Mehsikomer or events, go to www.simplyfishing. com, or call Simply Fishing at 651-429-3351.