Flat-surfaced lures have been late-season favourites of muskie and pike anglers for years. They work because the thin, flat look and movement mimics — the baitfish — alewives, herring, whitefish, shad, or shiners — that muskie and pike prey on in the fall.
For creating a target to hone in on, flat sides, faces, bellies, or backs are where it’s at. Targeting muskie and pike is all about looking natural, creating flash, and giving off a distinct, underwater sound.
This type of underwater movement appeals to the dominant feeding senses of pike and muskie: sight and the ability to detect underwater vibration.
Here’s a look at 3 families of lures that use flattened surfaces to trigger strikes.
Flat, broad flanks are great for throwing around extra flash, especially on baits with prism or holographic finishes.
For twitching, baits like the Sennett Tackle Vexer can be deadly. When fished with a jerk-pause retrieve, fish see erratic bursts of reflected light, they feel the vibration, and will often strike after the lure settles between jerks.
Trolled, this lure style has long been a staple, from Lake Erie to Lake of the Woods.
Also, 10- and 14-inch Jakes have an excellent track record for attracting big fish. The exaggerated wobble calls fish in from long distances. In the cooling waters of fall, giving pike or muskie extra vibration and flash helps both attract and trigger them. In deep or off-coloured water, your lure stands out better. In the sprawling clouds of baitfish that typify fall fishing on many bodies of water, this can put you at a huge advantage, too.
Rattlebaits are loud and the straight, tight shiver is unique, making them a go-to option for late-season muskie and pike. Just reel them steadily along with an occasional pause. Lots of sound, a tighter wobble, and the ability to work deep are 3 deadly assets of this lure.
Rattlebaits are one of my personal all time favourites. I have a soft spot for their basic, boxy shape and no-frills retrieve style. Lay one out in your hand next to an alewife or shad and you’ll notice the striking resemblance. I haven’t found another lure that comes closer to matching that specific shape and thickness.
Rattlebaits are great lures for new anglers because they are so reliable.
Rapala’s newest offering in this category, the Rippin’ Rap, has widened up the wobble a touch, while keeping the magic, flattened baitfish profile intact.
The Rhythm of Rubber
In water that’s dirty, deep, swift moving, or all of these, flat, natural-looking rubber lures like Bondy Baits and Bulldawgs can be just the ticket for enticing fish that may be sluggish or well-fed — 2 common themes come fall.
These baits have no rattles, blades, or lips for crunching bottom, and many don’t have elaborate colouring, unlike the other lures mentioned above. But, this style of bait does have a broad, flowing tail, a flat belly, and usually angular ribs and fins that displace water just enough to help fish find them.
With its large, disc-like paddle tail, baits like Storm’s Wild Eye Minnow are a perfect example. These baits offer pike and muskie a lifelike baitfish profile with plenty of vibration to zone in on. The disturbance given off is noticeable and enticing, but in no way unnatural or offensive.
Fish are cold-blooded and as things cool off in their world, soft plastics are important tools for anglers.
Flat-surfaced baits will always be muskie and pike catchers when the weather turns cool. Pick through your tackle and take a close look at what you’ve got. Whether you prefer to troll, cast, or jig, definitely add some of these specialized lures to your bag of tricks. Turn them loose on your favourite pike and muskie water this fall and tap the potential of flat.