Years ago, Muskies use to be considered the “Fish of a ten thousand Casts”. In today’s world, fortunately, that cast count is much less. Although, there are days when you just can’t seem to buy a bite. That is why it is so important to “MAKE EVERY CAST COUNT”.
As you are reading this article, you will notice I am going to repeat that phrase. That is because it is so important when Musky fishing to make “every cast count”. You don’t know when throughout the day when you chance is going to come, if it comes.
How do we make every cast count?
Make the Cast Count with a Sharp Hook
One of the easiest things to do is to keep your hooks sharp. There is no excuse to be fishing with dull hooks. Take a moment every now and then to ensure your hooks are in tip top shape. Contact with wood, rocks and even weeds can dull your hook points. Keep a hook file handy in the boat. If you don’t have to go searching for it you are likely to use it more often.
Setting that Hook
I believe body positioning is something that many anglers overlook. When you swing a golf club or baseball bat, body position and mechanics are the key to achieve maximum distance and accuracy. The same is true about setting the hook when you are musky fishing. Being in position so that you are sweeping the rod across the front of your body on a hook set will ensure your rod travels the maximum distance.
For example, if you reel with your right hand you will have your rod in your left. You will want to be in a position so that when a musky strikes, you are sweeping your rod from left to right. Your left hand and arm coming across the front of your body. Turning your body at the same time will give you maximum hook setting power. Combine that with sharp hooks and you’ve just made that “cast count”.
In comparison, working a bait on your backhand, you won’t have the range of movement to set the hook hard. Your rod tip does not have the same range of movement. It will not travel as far as it would when you come across the front of your body.
Make The Cast Count And Be Prepared
Being prepared and paying attention fall into the same category. Paying attention to your every cast and reading the waters is very important. Making accurate casts is part of paying attention. If you are fishing along a weed edge that 70 feet away from your boat, which you see because you are paying attention, an accurate cast will land you right on the weed edge. If you cast 80 feet, 10 feet into the weeds, then you will end up hooking weeds and fowling your hooks. This isn’t making “every cast count” as you may have just missed a fish that was cruising the edge while dealing with weeds.
Anything can happen at any time while musky fishing. It’s safe to say the rules of musky fishing can be thrown out the window any time. Musky’s are like a teenager, they are not always predictable or follow the rules. Being prepared for a strike as soon as the bait hits the water. Be prepared for a strike as you’re pulling the bait out of the water. And of course be prepared for a strike any time in between.
Make Every Cast Count by Starting Strong
These are some of the reasons its important to start strong and fish stronger. Start strong starts with accurate casting and then moves on to stopping your bait before it hits the water. Stopping your bait can do several things. Throwing all the hooks back and reduce the chances of them tangling upon landing . Of equal importance, it lets you engage your reel and get your bait moving as soon as it hits the water. This can be key when you’ve made an accurate cast that lands on or near a musky. Getting your bait moving right away can increase reaction strikes and ensures that you’re making every cast count.
Finishing Your Cast Strong
On some bodies of water, finishing strong is the most import factor of all. In darker water, low light conditions and in places where musky don’t have a lot of ambush points and must chase their food source, finishing strong can catch you most of your fish. Watching behind your bait and bellow your bait as it approaches the boat is a must. We all know that muskies are notorious for following baits to the boat. Pay attention and finish strong, and many of the follows will turn to strikes. Do not get sloppy with your boat side maneuvers.
Body and boat positioning combined with the angle you cast at can help with this. Be cautious when you start your boat side maneuver, avoid leading the fish directly into the side of the boat. It’s a sure way to turn a hot fish into just another follower.
Large circles or a figure 8 can be an artform of their own. The key is to engage the fish, make it want to eat your bait. Tease them, pull the bait away from them, raise higher or go deeper in the water column. Keep your bait moving and never slow down. How long should you figure 8 ? I’ve seen fish follow one person’s bait to the boat, then come back and eat another person’s bait. After the first person gave up on their boat side maneuver. You just never know how long that fish will stay close to the boat. Remember, they are use too chasing their dinner and having dinner escape them. A hot fish can strike the next bait that comes by them. So always be ready and pay attention and make sur to MAKE EVERY CAST COUNT.