Best Musky Fishing Lures (2020 Update)
Looking For The Best Musky Lures In 2019?
Muskies can be a particular bunch — some days they won’t take anything, other days, they’ll eat just about anything you throw in front of them.
Then, you’ve got the highs and lows in-between — where you get to work through your tackle box, finding the best musky lure for the water you’re on, the time of day you’re fishing, the weather patterns, and water temperature.
If you’re anything like us, you don’t want to be “testing” anything — you want to know, for sure, that the lures you’ve got in your box are at least worthy of getting looked at.
In 2019, it seems like a ton of manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon, producing musky lure after musky lure, but not many of them are designed to actually catch fish…
…it’s almost like the manufacturers are designing lures to catch anglers, instead!
We want to make sure you’re not only saving money, but saving time by not performing R&D on untested lures from manufacturers that realized you’ll spend more on the latest and greatest, even if it hasn’t proven itself.
That’s why we took the time to sift through everything that’s on the shelves (and websites) today to make sure we’re only recommending lures that have proven themselves season after season, year after year.
Below are, what we consider, the best Musky lures you can get your hands on in 2019.
Each has shown that it can catch fish, even in the toughest conditions, as long as you’re presenting it properly and “matching the hatch” — getting the color matched to what you know the Muskies are feeding on that day.
Best Soft Plastics For Muskies
Soft plastics are a go-to whether fishing is hot, or cold. If you don’t have some of the best soft plastics for musky fishing in your box, you’re severely missing out!
You can’t just tie them on and start hooking up, though. Each soft plastic bait requires a unique presentation and a methodical approach, which is why so many anglers get discouraged once they start throwing them.
#1 – Keitech Easy Shiner 8” Soft Paddle Tail
The Keitech Easy Shiner 8” soft paddle tail pulls double-duty, as both a jigging bait and a swimbait. Injected with a natural squid smell and taste, it’s pretty hard to resist, especially when the bite gets tough.
Fishing them, though, is where things get fun — you can adjust to a few different presentations, based on the feeding patterns of bigger fish, so you don’t have to worry too much about whether or not it’s the bait or you that can’t catch anything… these soft plastics catch fish!
They seem fairly simple when you pull them out of the pack but there’s quite a bit of R&D that goes into molding each one. The streamlined body puts the perfect amount of water over the tail whether you’re swimming them above structure or jigging them through structure.
When you’re swimming them on a jighead, the erratic back and forth, up and down motion is more than enough to entice strikes. The biggest factor is how fast you’re swimming them and how erratic your jighead’s weight is making them move.
|Keitech Easy Shiner 8 inch Soft Paddle Tail Swimbait - Pro Blue Shiner
#2 – Fanatik Soft Lure Larva LUX Jig Baits
It may not look like much at first glance, but the Fanatik line of Larva LUX jig baits work amazingly well when you need to slow your presentation down and still have enough action to entice strikes as the bait settles.
Each Larva LUX is salt-injected with Fanatik’s “secret sauce” to give it a little extra appeal and drag bigger fish in from further distances. They’ve matched the formula to actual forage big Muskies love to feed on so this isn’t like PowerBait’s artificial flavoring.
The body is designed with multiple ribs to trigger a Musky’s lateral line, put off realistic acoustics, and lifelike action. When a fish grabs a Larva LUX, it holds on so you’ve got time to set the hook — you’ve gotta feel them to see what we mean, they’ve got a nice “crunch” to them!
The longer the fish bites down, the more flavor they get, too. The only reason this one didn’t take the #1 spot is because a soft paddle tail is a lot more versatile! But, when you’re being called to tie on a jighead, make sure there’s a Larva LUX hooked onto it.
#3 – Musky Innovations 3000 Pro Mag Bull
The Musky Innovations 3000 Pro Mag Bull soft baits are a staple in every tournament angler’s arsenal for a reason: they can turn a non-existent day into a hot bite real fast.
Each Pro Bull comes pre-rigged with dual trebles and a single spine hook to guarantee more hookups than standard rigging. The soft plastic stays supple in both warm and cold waters, and the tail is weighted for increased action.
While the plastic is on the softer side, and you’ll find yourself going through baits more often once you start catching fish, we think it’s a good problem to have! Face it, replacing your baits because they get destroyed by fish isn’t what we consider to be a bad day!
You’ll want to match the colors up to what you know they’re feeding on, like most plastics, and slow your retrieve while you adjust the erratic behavior as you get closer to the boat. This erratic change triggers predatory bites that most other baits can’t produce.
Best Jerkbaits For Muskies
There’s something magical about a big jerkbait suspending itself in the water, while you know there’s a big Musky that’s been tracking it for the last 20 yards. It’s this stop-and-go motion that gives a jerkbait its name, and exactly what entices the strike.
As a jerkbait suspends itself, the fish builds its anticipation. Then, once you begin the jerking motion again, that’s when you’re going to experience some of the most vicious strikes you’ll ever feel.
When the fish strikes, though, you don’t want to immediately set the hook. Many times, that “thump” you feel is a small bump so you need to be patient while you make sure it’s an actual take.
However, you don’t want to wait too long, either, because the hard plastic tends to feel unrealistic and Muskies don’t usually hold onto them too long. Having sharp, sturdy treble hooks makes a huge difference in your hook-to-catch ratio. Keep them sharp!
Below are 3 of the best jerkbaits for Musky fishing in 2019.
#1 – Rapala Husky Jerk 14
A ton of manufacturers have a hard time making a jerkbait that actually “suspends” and stays where you leave it but Rapala, being known in the industry for generations, has finely tuned their 14-series jerkbaits to do just that.
The neutral buoyancy design dives deep and stays put. Whether you’re casting and jerking, or trolling and searching, it stays running straight and true, allowing you to impart the action that you want to impart on it.
It’s streamlined with sturdy hooks so it casts straight and true and makes setting the hook on a boney-mouthed Musky easier to do.
The loud rattles attract fish from the depths to see what’s going on and, as long as your presentation matches what they want, entices the hard predatory strikes so you don’t spend a ton of time waiting to make sure you’re hooked up.
For the money, it’s worth using a few different colors (Gold works great!) so you can switch it up.
Rapala Husky Jerk 14 Fishing lure (Gold, Size- 5.5)
#2 – Livetarget Glass Minnow
For times when nature is silent, you need a jerkbait that’s just as quiet. It’s during those times that loud rattles and bright lures are going to end up turning off potential bites, instead of getting them to take what you’ve got on the dinner plate.
Slow rolling a Livetarget Glass Minnow is an incredibly effective presentation. The lack of rattles and see-through body closely mimics natural baitfish and the internal magnetic weights give it a lifelike action, even when it’s suspended.
Once you start moving it again, the magnetic weights give it an inconsistent jerking action to keep big predators tuned in, waiting for the moment to strike. It’s usually once you let the bait suspend, right before you’re about to move it again, that big strikes happen.
Koppers 110 BaitBall Glass Minnow FW Jerkbait, Silver/Smoke
Currently out of stock
#3 – Strike King Deep Diving KVD Jerkbait
This is another bait that was originally designed for largemouth and smallmouth anglers, but Musky anglers in the north have figured out that it works just as well for getting strikes during tougher fishing conditions — like when the water is turning over.
The weight transfer system makes it travel a country mile while giving it amazing stability under the water. The bill is designed to get it down to 11’ where it stays put until you start tugging and jerking on it again.
The only downside to it is the smaller hooks (again, it’s designed for bass), so if you swap them out with something heavier and larger you’re going to get more action and a bit more depth out of it. We highly recommend Chrome Blue and Clearwater Minnow colors.
Best Crankbaits For Muskies
Crankbaits are amazing for banging around underwater structure and skimming the tops of weed beds alongside deep ledges and dropoffs. When big fish are actively feeding on bait balls, you know it’s time to pull out a fat crankbait and match the hatch.
Depending on whether you’re fishing lipped or lipless crankbaits, you’re going to need to adjust your presentation and the depth. Most lipped crankbaits are designed for a specific depth while lipless crankbaits are designed to be “timed down” to the depths you want them at.
There’s no real rhyme, reason, or special technique to fishing with them, either. Drag them across the structure or natural landscape you’re fishing, pause, and get back to work. Lipped crankbaits slammed into and banged around on underwater structure can trigger some vicious strikes.
Below are 3 of the best crankbaits for Musky fishing in 2019.
#1 – Rattlin’ Rapala 08 (Holographic Blue Shad)
Even though most people think only small Musky feed on shad, there’s something to be said for big fish busting up bait balls when they’ve become accustomed to chomping down on fatty baitfish. They never lose the taste of an easy meal!
The Rattlin’ Rapala 08 (specifically, the Holographic Blue Shad variety) is an amazing lipless crankbait for drawing attention away from the bait ball and onto your lure. Big trophies are always looking for that one standout meal, and the Rattlin’ Rap delivers, in spades.
When you see baitfish getting busted up, all you need to do is figure out the depth and let the Rattlin’ Rap do the rest. The 08 version sinks around 1ft per second so you can count it down, then start jerking and swimming to draw attention away from the pack — and hang on.
|Rapala Rattlin' Rapala 08 Fishing lure, 3.125-Inch, Holographic Blue Shad
#2 – Strike King KVD 8.0 Magnum Square Bill
For shallow structure, the only thing that beats out banging a big spinnerbait against it is running a square-billed crankbait down and through it. That’s where the Strike King KVD 8.0 Magnum Fat Shad comes into its own.
Since shallow fish tend to be spooky fish, you want to do away with the rattles and noisemakers and focus more on your presentation and color.
The Magnum size on this crank gives you a way to stand out, being fatter than most baitfish, and doesn’t have rattles that tend to turn hot fishing into spooked predators that refuse to take anything you put in front of them.
#3 – Rapala Super Shad Rap 14 (Shad)
It’s no secret that a crankbait is what most anglers turn to first, so you need a way to stand out. While most crankbaits are plastic, the Rapala Super Shad Rap 14 is built from Abachi, giving it a completely different action than what most big predators are used to seeing.
The unique design on the bill helps give it even more action and sets it apart from other plastic crankbaits. It’s, essentially, a square billed crank until the bottom of the lip, then it rounds out and helps it dive deeper.
This shape gives it a wiggle and wave, while the paint on the wood appears more lifelike than most plastics — and doesn’t chip or disappear when you start banging it into underwater cover, logs, weedbeds, and rocks.
The only change we’d make is using a heavier hook to help it sink faster and give it a more “confident” action, taking away some of the twitchy, erratic behavior and making it appear more lifelike.
Best Glide Baits For Muskies
Over the last few years, “glide baits” and swimbaits have taken Musky fishing by storm. Where most other anglers can’t even think of throwing a bait this big without busting their rod, Musky anglers come prepared with heavy-duty tackle that’s more than ready.
If you’re gear is up to the task, fishing with a glide bait can produce some of the biggest trophies of your life. They’re not all that hard to fish, either! Cast them out a country mile, let them suspend and get where you want them sitting, then glide them back to you.
The size of the bait makes them nearly irresistible for bigger fish, especially when they’re trying to conserve calories either before the winter or after the spawn — no predator can pass up on a fat meal moving slowly past their haunts, which is why glide baits have become so popular!
#1 – FishingGhost XXL Bait Candy Swimbaits
FishingGhost may be newer to the industry than companies like Rapala and Strike King but you still shouldn’t be counting them out. They make one of the best glide baits (swimbaits) currently available for Musky anglers.
The large 8” baits are soft and supple, designed with realistic 3D eyes and lifelike scales so they entice strikes when you know big fish are looking for a full meal.Once you get your hands on one, you’ll realize why they work so well — it isn’t just because they’re sectioned.
Word of warning, though… you can’t try throwing these things on a medium power rod. You need heavier line and rods to safely throw them without busting your rod tip, both during the cast and when you set the hook.
At nearly 3 ounces in weight, they pack a punch but when big 50+ inchers are calling for a feast, it’s hard to find a bait that works better than a slow moving glide bait or FishingGhost XXL Bait Candy swimbait.
#2 – Magnum Swimmin’ Dawg Musky Innovations Swimbaits
Swimbaits give an action and release vibrations that are hard to mimic in hard lures like jerkbaits and crankbaits. Then, when you think about how hard it is to get the same action out of larger baits, you start to realize why the Magnum Swimmin’ Dawg made #2 on our list.
Muskies love large baits. However, large Muskies need a massive bait. If you’re trophy hunting and only want to target 50+ inch fish, there isn’t a bait available that can come close to touching the Magnum Swimmin’ Dawgs from Musky Innovations.
At nearly 11” in length and weighing just shy of 7 ounces, you get what you pay for. They’re durable and guaranteed to only get hit by massive Muskies so when you feel a strike, hold on. It isn’t a baby on the other end of your line — that’s what having the Swimmin’ Dawg feels like!
#3 – BlitzBite 8” Multi-Jointed Minnows
Somewhere in between the FishingGhost XXL Bait Candy and the massive Magnum Swimmin’ Dawg comes the 8” Multi-Jointed Minnows from BlitzBite. These baits are quicker to sink than the first two and have quite a bit more “bulk” to them.
They’re a hard plastic lure, giving them a different bite but also making them a lot more durable than both the FishingGhost and the Swimmin’ Dawg but they have a lot more aggressive action to them, which requires more attention on your part.
At 8” long and 3 ounces in weight, they’re not nearly as punishing on your gear as the Swimmin’ Dawgs are. They still travel a country mile and the internal steel wires keep the sections together cast after cast. They’re definitely worth the money and have helped net quite a few trophies.
Best Topwaters For Muskies
When the topwater bite is on, you’re going to have a hard time finding a more fun and aggressive way to hunt big Muskies. This is the time when those massive 50+ inchers come from the depths looking to feast, so you need to be prepared.
There’s a key to fishing with topwaters, though. You need to be patient. Even though that’s hard to do because topwater strikes are the most entertaining you can find, you need to learn to wait until the dust has settled, so to speak.
After casting, there’s nothing else you should do for the next 60 seconds. Once the lure hits the water, either count to 60 or wait for the rings to dissipate, then begin your retrieve. Any sooner than that any you risk spooking the big fish!
It’s hard to do but once you realize, it’s incredibly potent. Below are 3 of the best topwater lures for Musky fishing you can find in 2019.
#1 – Robinson Super Top Raider
If there’s only one topwater you take with you every time you get to the water, it has to be Robinson’s Super Top Raider.
If you ask someone whether or not they’ve ever heard of (or used) the Super Top Raider and they say no — find new friends. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. They don’t know what a good topwater lure is, and they’re probably still borrowing out of your box!
Now, when it comes to fishing with the Super Top Raider, simple is where it’s at. Cast it out and retrieve it back. Every now and then, let it sit for a minute (yes, a full 60-second minute) and then start bringing it back to you. It really is that easy.
If you need to shift it up a bit, you can even walk the dog like you do with a Zara Spook and send it back and forth on top of the water, leaving behind a double bubble trail as you bring it back to you. And, remember, Black and Orange is all you really need!
#2 – River2Sea Whopper Plopper
The Whopper Plopper by River2Sea is widely recommended among serious Musky anglers for a reason — it just works, especially when the top of the water is rough and you need to make a bit of commotion to get the attention of bigger fish.
The size of the Whopper Plopper helps, as well. A massive 5” lure causing a stir and leaving behind a bubble trail is irresistible. At nearly 1.5 ounces, it casts for a country mile, too, giving you plenty of time to raise them up from the depths.
The color you choose? That’s entirely up to you, but we can strongly recommend both white and black. Black, at night, makes the bait appear larger than it really is and big predators love a large, easy meal. During the day, white looks black against the sky and flips the script on big fish.
#3 – Arbogast Jointed Jitterbug
Plop, plop. Plop, plop. It doesn’t matter night, or day, fish absolutely cannot stand the Arbogast Jitterbug and they aren’t afraid to let you know about it, either. This lure has produced some of the most vicious strikes I’ve ever seen on a topwater.
That age old “plop, plop, plop, plop” sound combined with the unique wiggle that the Jitterbug produces a noise that calls the biggest fish up from the depths and leaves a trail behind on top of the water for them to find and hone in on.
If you’ve never fished a Jitterbug, your grandfather is probably less-than-impressed with you because this was one of the only topwater lures anglers nearly 100 years ago would turn to in order to turn a slow day into a hot night.
Make sure to get the 3 ½” and it can be any color you want, as long as it’s black.
Best Jigs For Muskies
When the bite gets tough, the tough tie on a jighead and trailer. That’s why most anglers tend to have a love/hate relationship with jigs. When they work, they work great. Getting them to work, though? That takes a new level of patience.
If you’re one of the anglers that rarely ties on a jig because you know you have to slow your role and pay extremely close attention to your line, we highly suggest you take the time to learn a good jigging technique so you can turn a goose-egg into a good day.
Properly fishing a good jig setup requires you to find structure and then pick the structure apart. 9 times out of 10, the fish isn’t going to grab the bait when it’s moving — they’re going to wait until it’s either falling or has come to a complete stop and you begin to twitch it again.
It’s this level of paying attention that keeps so many people from using them but, if you can use them properly, you’re able to put baits in front of fish that most of them haven’t seen in a while — or at all, before.
With all that being said, below are the best 3 jigs / trailers you can use for big Muskies in 2019.
#1 – FishingGhost 6x CreatureOne 4” Creature Baits
A good jig trailer is hard to come by. The FishingGhost CreatureOne baits have been used for years to target all types of fish, especially big Muskies. When you tie them onto Hairy Jigs jigheads, they come to life giving you an action that’s hard to mimic with most other softbaits.
Each creature has 6 appendages that refuse to stop moving even if the water is cold and the air temperature is colder. Where most soft plastics start to lose their action because of the colder temperatures, the CreatureOne 4” soft plastics stay supple and refuse to quit.
They’re stretchy and on the softer side, which can be an issue when you start catching fish — you will need to replace them, but the injected scent makes fish hold on so you’ve got plenty of time to feel the bump and set the hook.
There’s only 3 colors to choose from — Gold Candy, Hunter, and Salty Pepper — and each color works when you can match it to what you know bigger fish are feeding on. If the water’s clear, the Salty Pepper are incredibly potent. On the same token, if the water’s dirty, you’re going to have a hard time beating the Hunter and Gold Candy colors.
#2 – Keenet 3D Eyes Bucktail Jigs
The Keenet 3D Eyes Bucktails were originally designed for saltwater use, but as history has shown, big Muskies love big baits and a ton of saltwater anglers have happily moved their saltwater gear to colder freshwater with the same results.
Each Keenet 3D Eyes is hand-tied, with stainless steel hooks that don’t rust or get dull and a wide range of colors. Each pack gives you a set of 3, one of each color, so you have some options while you’re on the water.
Before you head out, though, if you’ve never used a bucktail, we highly recommend testing them in a tub or aquarium so you can get a feel for the action and know how your rod tip affects it.
There’s quite a bit of lifelike movement in each one but your technique determines how the tails move and the tail movement is what entices strikes.
It’s the natural pulsing action that mimics smaller baitfish and Keenet has put quite a bit of time into the design and balance to make these act differently than other bucktails. It’s subtle, so you’ll have to see it to understand what we’re talking about, but if you’ve fished other bucktails you’ll be able to immediately notice the difference.
When the fish are feeding on bigger forage, adding a trailer to the bucktail under the hair is a great way to bulk it up and slow it down.
#3 – Big Hammer Hammer Heads & Swimbaits
This is a unique combination that’s become a staple because they’ve proven themselves to work, and work well. Swimbaits offer a ton of different presentation options, but we’ve found the 4/0 1ounce Hammer Head jigheads and Big Hammer 4” swimbaits work perfectly together.
Where the Big Hammer Hammer Heads & Swimbaits are particularly effective is at night. Their subtle action puts off a ton of vibration that taps into a Musky’s long lateral line, effectively ringing the dinner bell and dragging them right to the jighead.
With a wide range of colors to choose from you’re going to need to be particular about which ones you’re getting — these aren’t like creature baits where you can get away with random colors, you’ll need to match the hatch and figure out what the Muskies are feeding on that day.
Pair your colors together with the 1-ounce 4/0 Big Hammer Jig Heads for optimum performance, then adjust your retrieve (if you’re swimming them) or slow down and drag them through structure. If you’re fishing structure and weeds, we recommend a weed guard to keep the 4/0 hook from snagging up.
What Do You Think Are The Best Musky Lures?
You’ve seen our list — now it’s time to hear from you.
Are there any that we didn’t feature that you’ve come to trust, knowing that they’ll produce -at least- something when you tie them on?
Take a few minutes to let us know and you might see them on a list of ours in the future!