Many anglers catch a huge number of big pike on spoons each year. Hundreds of salmon in excess of 25 pounds are caught on spoons every year by anglers fishing the Great Lakes. Why not spoons for muskies? That was my reasoning some 8 seasons ago, when I began questioning why not one angler I knew EVER fished muskies with a spoon. Could muskies be caught on spoons? After 8 seasons, and some 50 odd muskies up to 49", I can assure you that spoons work very well indeed. In fact, spoons are often my second or third choice under ideal fishing conditions, and my first or second choice under tough conditions.
Steve Wickens displays his biggest spoon caught muskie to date... 49" of mean machine caught on an Eppinger 300!
They hook almost as efficiently as a bucktail, except that they can take far more abuse than any bucktail I have ever used. They have an action that is second to no other bait. And they come in a range of colours, sizes and shapes that will literally boggle your mind. You can cast them or troll them with equal effectiveness. Best of all, they can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of most other muskie baits!
There are several reasons why I believe the spoon is such an exceptional muskie bait. Firstly, they have a wide seductive wobble. It has been my experience that muskies, especially bigger fish, prefer a wide action than a tight one. I believe that this is because the wide action more closely simulates the swimming action of a larger baitfish, creating the illusion of size. Secondly, spoons tend to run quite shallow, yet deeper than a bucktail, which is of particular importance when fishing for suspended fish. Thirdly, spoons hook very well, and are exceptionally resilient. Let's face it, it's pretty tough for a muskie to bite down on several ounces of metal and bury those teeth, like they can with many wooden or even some plastic baits. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the majority of muskies have never seen a spoon before in their lifetime, because no one uses them! On pressured waters, think of the edge this gives you over your fellow muskie anglers.
There are a variety of spoons on the market that are effective for muskellunge, although the number of baits is limited. Some need a little "tweaking" to improve their effectiveness, but most baits will catch fish if you know how and when to use them.
Here is a rundown on the baits available:
Len Thompson #4: This spoon is manufactured right here in Canada (Alberta), and is the bread and butter pike spoon of Western Canada. This is one of the better casting spoons on the market. The finish stands up well, and the bait has a nice wide wobble. They are extremely inexpensive, and are probably the most commonly available spoon suitable for muskies. The baits come with chromed treble hooks, which I recommend you replace with either saltwater tinned hooks or bronze hooks. Both are easier to sharpen, will hold an edge better, and are more resistant to corrosion. The bait can be used for trolling as well, but is not one of the better spoons for trolling as it is too light, and will roll at speeds in excess of about 3 1/4 miles per hour.
Lindy Gator: Manufactured in the U.S., this spoon is a tough one to find in Canada, and is available in a limited number of colours. It too is a solid casting spoon. The size and weight of this spoon is very close to the Len Thompson, so it has limited use as a trolling spoon. The finish is quite durable, and the factory installed hardware is quite satisfactory.
Williams Wobbler: This spoon has a very narrow design, and is one of the only spoons on the market in this size that I have found to be not effective. It has a fairly tight wobble. Despite it's narrow design, it does not track well at even moderate speeds without spinning. It also comes with chromed treble hooks that should be replaced. This bait also comes in a very limited colour range. Avoid buying this one!
Lucky Strike Wizard: This smaller spoon is a great casting spoon for small stature anglers, and comes in some pretty interesting colour combinations. This spoon was "acquired" when Lucky Strike secured Dominion Tackle Co., and was formerly known as the Wizard Wobbler. Terminal tackle is adequate. It can be found packaged under Lucky Strike or Dominion Tackle.
Lucky Strike #6 Canoe: Here is another Canadian manufactured bait. Again, very easy to find. Effective for casting and trolling, especially on downriggers at faster speeds. This bait is extremely inexpensive. Terminal hardware is adequate. A nice variety of colours is available, although some are tough to find in stores. The finish on this bait is somewhat suspect. Quite a number of the baits I've used have been stripped of paint by a single fish; paint appears to be applied onto a chromed surface and does not adhere well as a result.
Eppinger Red Eye: A rather interesting bait with 2 huge glass prism eyes mounted thru the spoon. A toughie to find in stores. An excellent casting spoon for early season fish. This bait must be retrieved VERY slowly, or it spins, and is therefore not a good choice for trolling. Terminal tackle is very sturdy.
Eppinger COP-E-CAT 7000: A long narrow design punched from about 1/4" of solid brass, this bait is the ultimate trolling spoon for use on downriggers. Terminal tackle is of saltwater strength. This spoon will track with a nice wide wobble at speeds up to 5 1/2 miles per hour, and is available in over 100 colour combinations. Another very tough spoon to find in stores, but certainly worth the money.
Eppinger 700 Huskie Junior Dardevle: This bait is the ultimate casting spoon with heavier tackle. Similar in shape to both the Len Thompson and Lindy Gator, this spoon weighs about 50% more. Saltwater terminal tackle is plenty strong enough for muskies. Limited applications for trolling, as this spoon tends to start spinning at about 3 3/4 miles per hour, which is okay for early season fish, or slow trolling weedlines under tough fishing conditions. The easiest of the Eppinger spoons to find in stores, with over 100 colour combinations available.
Eppinger 300 Huskie Daredevle:
The cadillac of muskie spoons if you want BIG muskies on spoons.
Do not be intimidated by the immense size and weight of this spoon!
It has an action that has to be seen to be believed. This is not
a casting spoon, but as a trolling spoon for flat line applications, it
has no equal. This spoon will track well at speeds up to 4 1/4 miles
per hour. This bait comes with over-sized saltwater terminal hardware,
and is also available in over 100 colours. Highly recommended for
(Left to right) Lucky
Strike Wizard, Lucky Strike #6 Canoe, Eppinger 300 Huskie Daredevle,
Williams Wobbler, Len Thompson #4, and Eppinger 700 Junior Huskie Daredevle
WHEN TO USE SPOONS:
Even with treble hooks, spoons tend to be semi-weedless. They are highly effective when cast over deep weeds or along weed edges. They are also effective around rocky points and shoals, are deadly when fished along steep breaking rock walls that step down using ledges. (Flutter the spoon down the ledges.) Essentially, anyway you'd throw a bucktail, consider tossing a spoon. Spoons cast very well due to their concentrated weight, and tend to have less wind drag than jerkbaits or crankbaits, so longer casts are possible. In areas that have been fished hard by other anglers, tossing a spoon gives the muskies something that they have likely never seen before. This will often result in more strikes and follows than conventional baits will generate. The best approach is a straight pitch and retrieve, similar to a bucktail. Keep those hooks razor sharp, and sweep that rod hard if a fish strikes. The hookset will often place the treble right in the corner of the muskie's mouth, leaving little chance of the bait popping free.
For deep weedline fish, or fish situated along rocky structures, spoons can also be trolled using either a flat line or downrigger approach. The slow wobble of a big spoon run within striking distance of structure, is a sure way to generate some solid action.
Where the spoon really shines is for suspended
fish. Again, a flatline or downrigger approach can be used to present
the bait at the right depth. Deeper fish should be approached using
a downrigger, while baitfish in the upper 10 feet of water mean active
muskies that can be presented a bait that is flat lined. Big muskies
will suspend at incredibly shallow depths (less than 6 feet) throughout
the season in open water. I believe these muskies are actively targetting
carp, because they are slow moving, an easy target, and are often found
at or near the surface. Let's face it, carp produce a big silhouette!
I have taken literally dozens of muskies over 40" on the big Eppinger 300
Huskie Daredevle over open water, or suspended off of deep weed edges,
including the 49" muskie pictured above. The trick in trolling spoons,
is to find the speed where the spoon begins to spin, and then slightly
back off the throttle. This gives you the most action on the spoon,
and will produce the most strikes. Sharp hooks and a correctly set
drag will do the rest for you.
Spoons for muskie... I'm a believer! Are you?