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Musky Tackle and Gear

musky tackle

​Let’s face it musky tackle is a step above most other freshwater species in terms of size and strength.

With musky and northern pike being some of the biggest freshwater predators available in the USA it stands to reason that most musky gear is usually aimed squarely at these big fish.

Smaller setups are just too light once you start hauling muskie over 15 lbs.

Rods, reels, line and lures are much bigger and usually built to a much tougher standard.

All musky should be released with the utmost care and attention. Large musky in particular can get into trouble when handled aggressively or when out of the water for too long.

One ​very important reason why you do not want to use light gear or tackle for muskie fishing is that it will take a lot longer to get the musky in your net when on light gear.

The longer you are fighting a big fish the more you will have to tire it out before netting.

Pike on light spinning tackle
Small Pike caught on light spinning tackle

If you know that the pike local to your area do not grow too large you can catch them on a spinning tackle setup.

With heavier gear you can get them in the net much quicker without a prolonged fight.

50 lb braid, heavy or extra-heavy power rods and size 500 baitcaster reels are not uncommon when seeking trophy musky.

Both casting and trolling are popular approaches but so to is using bait in colder months when musky are less active and don’t want to chase a lure.

​Musky Tackle

A heavy baitcasting setup will usually be the right choice when casting larger lures all day long.

Obviously if you are trolling then you’ll need a heavy trolling outfit for your boat and a big net!

​1. Rods

The majority of musky rods will be roughly 8 to 9 feet long even rising to as high as 9’6″ depending on the type of casting and size of lures you are doing.

​That extra length is always a plus when it comes to making long casts on heavier musky gear.

Power wise as we stated earlier you want a rod that is rated heavy or extra heavy.


​You need a lot of backbone when musky fishing and lighter rods will strain considerably as too will you.

Action needs to be fast. A fast action allows you to set the hook quickly and it will also mean that you can make snapper casts with heavy line.

​2. Reels

​The usual size and type of musky reel is a baitcaster in the 300 to 500 range.

Although you can use a spinning setup baitcasters will always be the preferred choice especially if you are targeting really large musky.

​The king of all is the Shimano Tranx 500 which is an absolute beast of a reel.

You can use a 300 if you are fishing in smaller lakes where the musky have not grown too big.

A lot of musky will not make big long runs instead they will stay down deep for as long as possible so you need a decent reel to help haul them up from the depths.

3. Line

Braid is normally the order of the day and you’ll be running 50 lb braid for most scenario’s maybe even running as high a 80 lb depending on the type of water that you are fishing.

Wire leader are used extensively and normally connected to your main line by the use of a high quality swivel.

​4. Lures

The are a huge range of lures available from spinners, spoons, swimbaits, frogs and spinnerbaits that have caught musky for decades.

The one thing they have in common is size. Ripping large bucktails is one of the best methods for warmer weather musky fishing.

​5. Nets

In my mind a net is almost an essential. You really want to minimize the amount of handling that you do to large fish and a high quality net makes life so much easier.

Remember to buy a net with a very large rim diameter as getting caught with a net that is too small is asking for trouble.

Also Read: Pickerel vs Pike

If possible opt for a net that has modern rubber mesh netting.

Old style knotted nets are really bad for fish as the scrap off the fishes natural slime layer that protects them from infection.

A net is an essential part of your musky tackle.

  • Updated April 18, 2023
  • Musky