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leader with superbraid for Muskie


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All you musky guys, do you use leaders when you are running the superbraid lines. I just put on 65 pound super braid and you need a darn sharp knife to cut it. Do I still need a leader?

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I hear ya Nova! I still run a leader, not sure why? That stuff is tough!

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Nova- You should use a leader for a couple of reasons. With metal leader you are certain a fish's tooth will not break it- it would be a shame to have a monstor fish cut the line with it's tooth, not only will you loose the fish but you will have a fish with a lure stuck it its mouth. I use Flouracarbon leader which are basically invisible in water- your braided line fish can see. If you use the Floracarbon leader make sure to check it after each fish you catch, if it has any nick in it make sure to change it. Good luck

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I had a 35-40" pike bite me off last weekend. I was using 50lb power pro throwing cranks for bass so I didn't have a leader on. I had him next to the boat and he took one last dive and those teeth shredded the line like dental floss. I'd say for sure to use a leader for muskies.

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Thanks for the help guys, I never got to the skies cause the eye fishing was too good. Maybe next weekend, and I will run a steel leader. grin.gif

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O.K., a steel leader it is! I'm convinced.

Nova, you didn't miss much with the skies. Fished 15 hours this weekend and never so much as saw a fish.

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I have to hit the walleyes while they are still going, but the skies should turn on pretty soon. I can't say that I have seen any this year myself, but I haven't been in ideal area for them.

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It might take a darn sharp knife to cut a superbraid. But have you ever run your hand across a musky or pike's tooth? If you haven't don't try it. They're darn sharp too! It really wouldn't take much for them to cut through your line if it gets into their mouth.


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I use 80 pound power pro and titanium leaders. Either seven strand or solid leaders. I use the solid leader on in line spinners and jerk baits, I use the seven strand ( a little more flexible ) for my cranks, rattle traps and for my super sized sluggo's. Nova, I have caught a few Muskies around Father hennepin state park, not sure where you put in, but for as little as I have fished on Mille, I usually get two or three follows and a hit now and then for as little as I fish Mille for anything especially muskies. I can be more specific if you want

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Picks, I do not target muskies until August when the walleye fishing goes bad. Even then we only try it in the afternoon and evening. I have few spots close to where we stay(fishermans warf) that seem to always have skies on them. Thanks for the help on the leader, I am going to run one.

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Muskies and big Northerns can cut superlines like butter. Not only the teeth, but those gill plates are also dangerous. Weeds and rocks can also do damage to the line and that first 12 inches or so can take an awful beating on Mille Lacs.

I prefer 18 to 20 lb diameter superlines for control and durability. That generally translates into lines in the 80 to 100 lb range, depending on the brand. I use my own home-made steel leaders since none of the store-bought leaders give me an once of confidence and home-made are much less expensive. I like 105 single strand for spinner baits, bucktails, cranks, and topwaters and 174 lb for jerk and glide baits. I use only #5 Stay-Lok snaps since they are by far the best snap made and are, by design, easily replacable. One does need to replace the snaps once they start to get worn. That is generally about the time the bend gets discolored or they will break like anything else made of wire.

I prefer steel leaders about 12 inches for casting and 30 to 36 inches for trolling. The longer leaders are helpful for bouncing off rocks.

Good luck all.

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Okay all you Muskie experts, here is what happened to me this weekend at Mille Lacs and I need some help figuring this one out.

My wife and I drove up Friday night and Sunday morning we decided to fish for northern so I went to the bait shop and got some medium sukers and some advice on where to go from a local and headed out. It was slow so my wife decided to switch and fish for Eye's using leaches. about 10 minutes pass and she's cranking on real and the drag is just screaming. she said she was hung up on weeds so I took the pole and felt one hell of a fish on the other end, I told her to real in my line while I worked hers and she proceded to real my line in and all I hear is my drag screaming ... about that time her little 4 pound test line broke and I took over my 6'6 medium rod with 12 inch steel leader and 15 pound test line. Well, that fish worked me for 30 minutes (8:50 - 9:20am) I would real in 6 inched and it would take 12. I only had about 25 more yard of line left and on my real and I ripped the hook out of his mouth.

Im assuming Muskie, and big at that. Well about 9:45 I got another hit and only lasted a half minute or so but same thing, seems it wanted to stay on the bottom and head the other way.

Anyway, Im thinking I was sitting right on top of a muskie nest, and I think Im heading back up their this weekend and I need help with what type of pole, line and such so i can maybe land one of these things. and does everyone agree it was muskie?


Tommy Tanker

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It could have been either Muskies, Northerns, or a Muskie and a Northern. Muskies usually come to the surface so I'm thinking they were probably big Northerns.

To set up for Muskies and very large Northerns requires spending a few dollars, so hang with me on this.

First, the tackle you are using is far to light for Mille Lacs. There are plenty of Northerns in that lake that will overpower a medium rod with 15 lb line and of course Muskies require much heavier tackle as well.

Now, if you're thinking of trying for Muskies, do not just think catching the fish. That is only half the battle. You will also need good release tools and know how to handle a big fish. Do not, I repeat do not try to catch a Muskie without having the proper release equipment and a plan for handling and releasing the fish. You will be running serious risk of injury to both yourself and the fish if you do so.

Now, what do you need?

First, release tools:

- A large Muskie class net. Any of the large Beckman or Frabil nets will work fine. Treated bags are best.

- A good long hook-out that can reach deep into a big fish's mouth.

- A heavy, long needle nose pliers. Not the cheap fishing ones that are OK for a Walleye, Bass or small Northern. We're talking big and heavy like the big ones you can get in the tools section at Fleet Farm.

- A bolt cutter capable of cutting big hooks. This can save both you and the fish a world of hurt if something unexpected happens. These can also be found in the tools section at Fleet Farm.

- A jaw spreader. One usually doesn't need this for Muskies, but it is essential for big Northerns that often get lock-jaw and one runs into big Northerns often when Muskie fishing on Mille Lacs.

- A good measuring stick. Typically one that goes at least 56 inches.

- A measuring tape for measuring the girth. Remember, weight=(width x width x length)/800.

- A glove to protect your hand. Hooks and teeth can open a person hand up quite quickly. One has to be careful when putting your hand near a fish's mouth. I prefer a mesh fish cleaning glove. It has saved my hand countless times.

Rod, reel, line, lures:

- A 7 to 8 ft MH rod is a good bucktail, topwater, and crankbait rod. Something like a 7'6" or 8' Gander Mountain IM8 Guide rod will work nicely and only costs about $80.

- A good baitcasting reel. The ABU 6500 C3 is a great workhorse and good starter reel for about $65. There are others in the same 70 to 100 dollar price range that work well too.

- 80 to 100 lb Superline. Don't get fooled by the weight rating. Its the 18 to 20 lb diameter line that you need for control, knot strength and durablity. Lighter superlines do not have the knot strength or durabilty to stand up to large lures or large fish. 80 lb Power Pro and 80 lb Tuffline XP are both good choices.

- Steel leaders - at least 100 lb rating.

- Lures - On Mille Lacs, bucktails like Muskie Candy, spinner baits like Candy Spins and Stump Hawgs, topwaters like TopRaiders or Stompers, and crankbaits like Shallow Raiders, Depth Raiders, and Jakes are all good choices. Stick to perch, black, and brown type colors and you should be fine.

- Good hook sharpener.

OK, now you see what you need. It costs a little, eh? But don't skimp on anything except the number of lures or you will be sorry at some point. Trust me. I learned the hard way. Its better to fish Muskies with ten lures and have the rest of the equipment than to have a hundred lures and lack the release tools.

Now, you have everything, hooks are sharpenned, and you're out fishing and you hook a Muskie or a large Northern. What do you do?

- Fight the fish hard and fast. No 20 minute fights here. Lay into that fish and make her work. Muskies and large Northerns are usually only good for three or four runs against heavy tackle.

- When the fish can be brought near the boat, net her head first and leave her in the water. Do not be tenative or the hooks can catch the side of the net. Center the fishes head in the center of the net and drive through until the fish is completely netted. Then, use the net as a livewell and lift the net along the side of the boat so the fish is still swimming in the bottom of the net.

- Do not take the fish out and place it on the bottom of the boat. That is often fatal to the fish, dangerous to you, and gets your boat all stinky too.

- Put the glove on your hand that will be nearest the mouth of the fish.

- Take the hooks out while fish is in the water. Cut hooks if they are embedded deeply and then use the large needle-nose to remove cut hook(s) from fish. Single hooked spinner baits are generally easier to remove and work well on Mille Lacs.

- Measure the fish in the water with the measuring stick. Simply lay the measuring stick by the fish and straighten the fish out. You can also usually measure the fish in the water while releasing it.

- Get the camera(s) ready. Have your fishing partner all ready with the camera(s) before lifting the fish.

- Hold the fish up quickly for a picture by holding the fish under the jaw and supporting the mid section of the fish. The fish will often not like this so you have to get a firm grip on the jaw. (There is sort of a notch under the front jaw right at the front of the gill plate). Do not drop the fish. If it starts to get away, drop it in the water or, better yet, hug it. Try to keep the fish out of the water no more than ten seconds. Keep in mind that taking the fish out of water is to the fish just like you putting your head under the water.

- Another option is to take an in-the-water release picture.

- Revive the fish by laying it in the water and holding her until she is ready to go. Do not rock her back and forth as the forced water flow can damage the gills.

If you follow these guidelines, you are on your way to becoming a Muskie fisherman. Handling the fish properly is not only safer for the fish and you, the release time will usually be short and you can then get back to casting very quickly. Muskies and big Northerns often feed in short feeding windows and spending 20 minutes reviving a fish can cost you other opportunities.

One other thing: Remember that reproductions are available and releasing the fish ensures she will be there again the next time you go out. Many Muskie fisherman have caught the same fish more than once during a fish's lifetime. Myself included.

I hope this all helps.

Good luck.

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Holy cow esoxfisher, if that was a northern I defintly need some stronger equipment. thanks for the great lesson on fishing for big fish. Iv got almost all the release tools with the exception of the gloves and jaw spreader. and I'll go looking for rods and all the other equipment I need before heading out again.

the only other question I have is about reproductions, what information do I need for that, the measurements like you discribed and a photo? I am a firm beleiver in catch and release but I would also like to have a northern or muskie hanging on my wall too. and when i go back to the resort how can i get my name on the board for the biggest catch?

Well all this info sure did help out alot and i'll be sure to follow you guidelines as far as the 10 second rule on pictures.

the biggest northen iv C/R was 8.5, I think this fish really out done that by a large margine don't you?

Thanks for help, I owe you one.

Tommy Tanker

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I hope the info helps you and others who read it.

There are huge Northerns in Mille Lacs all right. 20 to 25 lb Northerns (42 to 45 inches) are not uncommon and will give a person a good fight. They will often be mixed in with the Muskies. Also, big Northerns, like Muskies, do often congregate in specific areas and its possible to hook into several in a short time period. Its always fun on Mille Lacs because one never knows what you have on until you see it.

As far as reproductions go: All you need is the length, girth, and a photo. I carry both a waterproof 35 mm and a Polaroid. Coming off the water with a Polaroid should enable you to enter any fishing contest at the resort. What better proof do you need? Polaroid cameras are quite affordable too and some even have timers on them.

There are a number of good reproduction outfits out there and one of the best is FiberTech in Brainerd. They do a great job and can usually get the fish back to you within 8 to 12 weeks, depending how busy they are. (A skin mount can take up to a year.) Their reproductions are amazing and they will never dry out like a skin mount will. A lot of shops are now charging the same for repros and skin mounts. Seems skin mounts need to be painted too and usually require at least some artificial parts anyway. There are some shops that will do a less expensive skin mount, but you get what you pay for and those usually don't look as good....

I like reproductions not only because the fish is still there to try catch again, but also because then one can choose when to have the repro done. One can simply wait until the end of the season and have your biggest fish mounted. (One can easily hook a 53 incher a week after your first 50.) Or one can wait for the specials at the various sports shows and save some money. smile.gif

One other tip: Single hook (as opposed to treble hook) type spinner baits like the Candy Spin, Bionic Bucktail, Rad Dogs, CJs, and Grinders are very affective on Mille Lacs and make the release effort much easier. The heavier ones like the big Rad Dogs and big CJs are good trolling baits too.

Good luck up there. Hope you hook a nice one.

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