It’s a common misconception that, due to their predatory nature, musky will strike just about anything thrown their way. However, musky sit comfortably at the top of their food chain, a spot from which they have free run of prey. This allows them to be a little more picky. For that reason, whenever you target these striped beasts with a fly rod, it’s smart to do your homework ahead of time to figure out which flies work best. Luckily, that research has been done for you, so keep reading to learn more about a few flies that are sure to help you hook into some musky.
Many people do a double take when they see the size of musky lures for the first time. Musky flies are no different. The idea is to make as much commotion and flash underwater as possible, which can be hard with a fly. Furthermore, casting larger flies can be tiring. You need to give the musky a reason to strike. Moving water around is the best way to do this.
Muskie flies can range from streamers to poppers, but the pattern throughout such variety is large, but lightweight. Large in this case being 8 to 15 inches long. Don’t be afraid to go big, since you’ll need a big profile to attract big fish. A good musky fly will have good movement in the water and will be made to resist wind, so you can actually cast it far and accurate.
When it comes to choosing fly models, you have a few options. Clouser Minnows as short as four inches are great in late spring, or the early summer post-spawn. These minnows are also great when you’re sight fishing musky. Use heavy eyes for water four-feet or deeper, though. I’d also go with a heavier fly in current, as it will allow you to achieve precision and a better presentation. Other great fly options include the Rabbit Strip Pike Bunny, the Dahlberg Diver, and the Red and White Pike fly.
If you decide to tie your own musky flies, try to use 2/0 to 6/0 hooks, and keep them as sharp as you can. Getting a musky to take your fly is only half the battle. Keeping one hooked is the other half, and keeping your hooks sharp will help them penetrate quickly and deeply for a solid hookset.
As always with flies, the adage, “Match the hatch” can’t fail. Pay attention to the baitfish or other prey items where you’re fishing and do what you can to imitate them with your flies. Be prepared for quite a fight when you hook a musky on a fly rod, though. It’s an experience not to be missed if you can help it!