Best Musky Rod 2023 – [Buyer’s Guide]
Hauling large muskies on a light rod quite simply isn’t going to cut it.
If you’ve ever snagged a muskie on bass tackle you’ll know that all that extra weight can put some serious strain on a light/medium power rod.
One kick from that massive tail is enough to make a regular baitcasting setup almost bend in two.
At the end of the day targeting large musky requires specialist gear that is up to the job of handling these powerful fish.
Choosing the best musky rod for your setup depends on just how exactly you intend on fishing.
With the right rod and reel combo you should be able to handle even the largest of musky.
Lets take a look at just what kind of tackle you can use.
The following three methods are the most popular types of gear that you can catch muskie with:
- Baitcasting – used to make pin point accurate castings of lures that vary in size,weight and diving depth.
- Trolling – Trolling for musky will usually be done when you want to target fish that are deep down on large lakes
- Spinning – spinning is probably the least used of any configuration when fishing for muskie. It can be quite good when using natural bait fish on a rig.
By far the most popular rod setup used for musky is a baitcasting setup. The gear will usually fall somewhere in the following ranges depending on the lure being used:
- Rod – 7-1/2 to 9 feet in length, heavy to extra heavy power and usually fast action
- Reel – Musky reels are usually baitcasters of varying retrieval speeds
- Line – 20 to 80 lbs usually braid
Muskie rods will usually be between 7.5 and 9 feet in length of course if you are trolling you run several different length rods depending on your boat setup.
A longer muskie pole gives you that little bit extra casting distance so you can cover a bit more water throughout the day.
A longer pole will also help to a lot of the energy out of the fish as you are playing then as the long pole will help to absorb some of the power as the fish run away from you.
A sweet spot seems to be in and around the 8 foot mark. Be aware that some of these longer rods unless they are in a two piece can be a pain to transport around and to store in your garage.
Some of the brands will have their longer rods as telescopic or collapsible. Usually they will break down to less than 7 feet in these cases.
Heavy powerful fish require a rod with a lot of back bone. The rod blank will take a hammering when you are playing a big muskie.
Sometimes the bigger fish can take almost an hour to land without snapping any of your gear. Which means your rod needs to be able to handle a lot of pressure on it for an extended time period.
At a minimum you will want to choose a rod that has a heavy power rating at the lightest. At lot of guys will opt for an extra heavy power rating especially when casting really heavy lures.
A good action to use is going to be fast. A fast action gives the rod a lot more backbone.
A fast action means that the bend in the rod will happen much further up the rod blank. This gives the rod a lot more backbone and means you can firmly set the hook in a muskies tough mouth.
A faster action will also allow you to whip the lure out giving a better casting performance.
With a fast action you end up loading the top section of the rod more unlike a slow action where the rod will start to bend closer to the reel seat.
This ‘action’ combined with a long rod allows you to use the weight of the lure to store a lot of energy in the rod blank as you cast, as you release that energy is used to throw the lure further distances than you would normally get on slower/shorter rods.
Best Musky Rods
If I could only pick one brand from which to buy a musky rod it would have to be St Croix.
Although the Tackle Industries brand(shown lower down) is certainly a top contender they are however pretty hard to come by and your local tackle shop may not have them available.
The St Croix Mojo line has built a huge following in the bass world, this muskie edition has also lived up to the other lines reputation.
St Croix offer two musky specific rods the Mojo Musky and the Legend Tournament Musky rods. With the Legend Tournament being the higher end rods and are priced accordingly.
Built using the now legendary St Croix SCII graphite blend they are extremely durable and some with two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish.
A Fuji TCS reel seat keeps your reel securely fixed in place. The main rod guides are Kigan Master Hand 3D with aluminum oxide rings and black frames.
The top guide is also a Kigan Master but uses a SiC ring.
They come with a split grip cork handle.
Looks wise they really stand out from the crowd with a very striking purple finish on both the blank and the decals.
The range features rods from 7’2″ up to 8’6″‘ in length and a variety of power and actions available. The most popular models would be the 8’ or 8’6″ in either a HF(heavy/fast) or a XHF(extra heavy/fast)
Probably the best musky rod for the money. A solid performer that is significantly cheaper than some other models on the market and they come with a 5 year warranty.
- SCII graphite rod blank
- Kigan Master Hand 3D guides throughout
- Fuji TCS reel seat
- 5 year warranty
The Veritas Toro is probably Abu Garcia’s most popular Musky rod. It is a no frills well built alternative to the St Croix rod above and is usually priced in and around the same level.
It is designed to withstand the stresses of musky fishing from the bottom up. A rod blank that is built from 30 ton graphite for lightness and sensitivity is reinforced with Abu’s “Sublayer Armour” for extra strength.
The handle is high density EVA and the guides are stainless steel with Zirconium inserts.
Altogether a well built rod that is aimed at inshore casting or musky these rods are real workhorses and can take quite a beating.
- 30 ton graphite
- Reinforced fibers
- EVA handle
- Stainless steel guides with Zirconium inserts
- Limited 3 year warranty
Although most fishermen won’t have heard of Tackle Industries before venturing into the wonderful world of Muskie fishing, they have built a solid reputation as the go to musky specialist rod range.
The only major drawback to the brand is that availability can sometimes be a issue. Usually they can be found in specialist tackle shops that cater to muskie fishing or occasionally in online stores.
This is a 9′ rod that is actually telescopic and reduces down to 7’6″ for easier transport.
This rods are specifically built for throwing large muskie lures in the 2-8 ounce range and are suitable for line ratings in the 60-130lbs range.
- 9′ rod reduces down to 7’6″
- Split grip handle
- EVA grip
Not everyone is going to be casting big lures in pursuit of specimen muskie. On many smaller lakes you do find that muskie will only grow as big as the lake will allow them to. In other words only if there is a really big supply of food will they grow to monster sizes.
Saying that you might only want a rod that is to be used for muskie that are all under 15 lbs or there about. If that is the case then a slightly smaller rod might be suitable.
The Helios listed here from Okuma is a 7’6″ rod with a heavy power rating. It’s a pretty light rod so if you are covering a lot of ground all day whilst casting from the shore on a smaller lake then it can be a lot less tiring than some thing a bit more beefy.
- 40 ton carbon fiber
- ALPS guides with zirconium inserts
- Limited lifetime warranty
Trolling is the best way to target larger muskie that are living down in the depths in larger lakes. A good muskie trolling rod needs to be able to handle constant strain on it.
There are a few different techniques to trolling such as using down-riggers, lead core lines and weight either on a three way rig or as inline weights.
Each method does can need a specialty rod especially when using down-riggers. The model shown above is suitable for use with down-riggers as it has a slow action.
This Accudepth rods from Daiwa are surprisingly cheap considering how well made and durable they are. Lots of backbone and yet still has a pretty decent amount of sensitivity.
- Graphite Composite rod blanks
- Aluminum oxide cut proof guides
- Foam grip
Musky Rod Buying Guide
Although we have mentioned length, power and action above there are some other important considerations to take into account before you purchase a rod for muskie fishing.
Firstly lets do a recap on what was discussed earlier:
Rod length plays a significant role in both how you use a rod and in it’s power.
For most applications a good fishing rod for muskie will generally fall into the range of between 7.5 feet and 9 feet in length.
Trolling rods for musky can be on the shorter end of this range whereas a baitcasting rod for musky would be in the higher end of the range.
There is some what of a sweet spot somewhere in the middle.
Surprisingly even a small difference of six inches to a foot can have a dramatic influence over not only how the rod feels but also how much backbone it has and just how good the casting performance will be.
Smaller freshwater fish like bass or trout will rarely require need a rod of more than seven foot. Musky rods however need to be able to cast much heavier lures long distances and they will also need to be able to handle much heavier line.
As a general rule of thumb a longer rod will cast further and will also be more accurate than a shorter one.
A longer rod length also gives you a lot more control once you hook into a large muskie. It’s much easier to land a larger fish on a long rod than on a shorter one. That being said it is still possible to land a monstrous muskie on a short rod.
Make no mistake about it bigger fish require a rod blank that has a lot of backbone. Fighting a large muskie for a long time will put a huge amount of stress one your rod.
Shorter rods with a light power rating will quite simply not be up to the job and some in fact may even snap resulting in a lost fish and lure.
A heavy power rating is the order of the day. Don’t be alarmed if you are used to using lighter rods for smaller species you can still get very accurate casts thanks to the increased rod length.
Rod action is one of those things that is sometimes misunderstood by quite a few people.
A fast rod action means that the rod will start to bend much higher up on the blank. Whereas a slow rod action will start to bend much closer to the handle.
A faster action allows you to load the top section of the rod much more easily when casting.
With a slower rod action you need to work a load harder to whip the lure out to it’s maximum distance.
Loading the top section stores the energy of the back swing in the top of the rod like a spring. When you whip it forward all that stored energy will transfer into the forwards increasing the speed of the lure just as you release it.
Because a musky fishing rod is usually a lot longer than other freshwater species you will almost always find that there will be a long split handle.
Smaller spinning rods and baitcasting rods can sometimes have a single piece handle usually in cork.
On longer muskie fishing poles however you will almost always find a split handle.
The longer split handle allows you to control the back swing of your cast a lot easier. On longer rods this is a must especially when using very heavy lures.
The longer rods also require quite a bit more muscle to load the rod blank. Having a longer split handle gives you a much better mechanical advantage as you can use the extra long handle as a better lever.
Ultimately the choice of rod handle is usually a personal one as it rarely affects the performance of the rod.
Cork handles are still pretty common on a lot of high quality rods. Cork is a well proven material on fishing rods and it also can add to the look of the rod significantly.
The only problem with a cork handle is that it does tend to have some durability issues especially as it gets older.
Foam grips are both light and very comfortable to use. They are nice to hold even all day long and do tend to age better than a cork handle. They are also a lot less absorbent than a cork handle so they can be a little easier to keep clean.
Quality reel seats are a must especially when tackling larger fish.
However they are often an element that are overlooked. If you stick to any of the big name brands you will mostly find that they use a good reel seat.
Fuji are by far the biggest name in both reel seats and rod eyes and if you rod has a Fuji reel seat you can probably be assured that it is a very high quality one.