Inline bucktails have many different appearances, such as two dressed trebles, one dressed treble, one dressed treble with rubber twister tail grub. The dressing on the hooks can consist of living rubber, skirting, feathers, large rubber tubes, deer tail hair (bucktail), marabou and other artificial hair fibers or combination of these materials. Materials use in creating the tail can alter the rate of speed at which an inline spinner can be retrieve.
All this and we have not even got to the actual spinner portion of the lure and the many options that are available. Depending on the type of action the anglers is trying to obtain, blade choice can and does make a large difference. Well what's the difference? To keep it simple the wider rounder blades create more sound output where as the longer thinner blades create more flash. The wider rounder blades also create more resistance on the retrieve than the longer thinner blades. This factor alone, is one the caster should pay attention to when looking for an inline spinner. There are times and places when retrieve speed is crucial. Wide round blades also create a much greater lift factor as the blade rotates versus the longer thinner blades (willow leaf).
Now let's talk weight. How heavy should an inline spinner be? This question has many correct answers. Depending on how you want the spinner to run (depth and speed), material used, and the body and blade choice and type of equipment used. The inline spinner is a very versatile bait that can be run high in the water or low fast or slow. There is a general rule of thumb when it comes to seasonal blade choice, this is to choose the smaller blades early in the season and late (cold water periods). Larger blades during summer and early fall. Myself I prefer the largest blade I can obtain and run properly.
There are many different ways to retrieve inline spinners. Here are couple my favorites.
1. Spinner type: inline two bucktail dressed treble, #8 flutted blade and #6 treble
Cast out spinner, start retrieve as soon as the lure hits the water. You rod tip should be in the finish position of the cast (2 o'clock). As the spinner nears to the boat your rod tip should be coming down to the water surface. The rate at which this should happen is dependent on the speed of retrieve. The idea is to keep the spinner just below the surface. It will take a cast or two to get it right. Once you have this going try adding a side to side directional change. This is done by moving your rod tip from left to right; this is not a fast left to right movement, but the gradual change. You want the spinner to be moving the left 3 to 6 feet, to the right now 3-6 feet (repeat). This retrieve system works well when fishing over weed beds, rock piles, and fall in timber.
2. Buldging: spinner same as #1
Bulging is one of the most effective retrieves an angler can perform to attract large muskie and pike, bass too. What happens in this style retrieve is the blades rotate close to the surface layer of the water without breaking out. This rises water surface creating "the buldge", it also creates "V" shape wake. To perform this retrieve cast out bucktail, just before the lure hits the surface engage reel start retrieve. Starting the retrieve prior to the lure hitting the surface will greatly assist in accomplishing this retrieve. This can be difficult to do but with practice will be worth the effort. Adding the right to left directional change to this retrieve only makes it more attractive. There is nothing like quite like watching your bucktail buldging back to the boat, only to see the water behind it rise into a giant buldge being push up by a large muskie just before she makes lunch out of your bucktail. This retrieve system works well when fishing over weed beds, rock piles, and fall in timber.
3. Count down: spinner same dressed hooks as #1 and #2, willow leaf blade
There are days when the fish are not on usual shallow water cover and have moved out to deeper water break lines. To some this means to put away bucktails and bring out the diving crankbaits or trollers. While this is a way to reach these fish I found this is not always not right choice. When face with this situation I position my boat where I would normally be dropping my cast (9-12 feet). Now cast out towards to deeper water and let your bucktail sink, on a slack line. As your bucktail sinks count down (1 to 10, 1 to 20). Repeat this until you come into contact with fish. If you have a fishfinder you can shorten the process by marking fish first (bait) then counting down to them. Keeping your tip in the water during this retrieve will help to hold depth. Another way to keep your bucktail deeper is to switch to a willow leaf blade. These blades do not create a lot od lift even at higher speeds. On bigger, deeper water systems where schools of shiners, cisco, herring and shad exist; try counting down to these schools and retrieving. Generally these schools of bait are found far out from shore and related structure. You may feel silly floating around in 60 to 100 feet of water casting but that won't last for long. Muskie love to eat these open water bait fish.
4. Need for speed: spinner rubber chicken, willow leaf blade, chicken willow leaf blade
We have all head stories about muskies and their eating habits. Muskie have been reported eating ducks, squirrels, muskrats, assorted fish species, mice, rats and the occasional vacationing pet dog while in for cooling dip of the dock. Even people are not safe. There are many documented accounts of people been bitten by "Mr Muskie". But chickens!!! Never mind that how about rubber chickens? Yes, muskie love their chickens in the hot summer time. You might ask what is all this got to do with speed? My answer will be fast food... What I mean is during the hot summer a fast retrieve, and I mean fast is the only way to attract muskie holding to the edges of cover and pockets. There have been days when this principle has been quite clear. While fishing with the friend one day I let him have honors on a really good weed patch that drops into 25' right away!!! After a couple of cast I ask him if he was tired or not feeling well. He asked "what do you mean!?" I said well you have been casting and the boat is not bouncing! He just laughed and fired out a cast; all of a sudden I could feel the boat started to bounce lightly. I think it was 2-3 light bouncing cast later, I head the sound of monofilament being ripped up out of the water by a hard hooks set. The rest of the story I'm sure you know. The bouncing was created by my partners efforts to retrieve his bucktail as fast as humanly possible. You've heard the same "speed kills". In reference to muskie the more speed you apply the more they want to kill your chicken! OK, to the chicken part of all of this. A chicken is an inline spinner with feathers only for hook dressing and a willow leaf blade or a much smaller a wide round blade. The rubber chicken is a large tube jig or squid body with a few feathers for hook dressing and the willow leaf blade. Physics is behind the chicken family of spinners. Reduce friction, create more speed. These bait are very easy on the hands and to retrieve. If you run a chicken with a #7/8 willow leaf blade, with a little practice (rod tip position versus retrieve speed) you can "buldge your chicken". Warning!!! Buldging chickens can cause shock , hart stoppage and shacking knee!
These where just a few casting techniques for inline spinners to get you started. But what about the finish? Do you mean the famous figure "8". The figure "8" is a maneuver preformed at the end of a cast at boat side. Muskie and pike love to follow lures. It's very exiting yet frustrating to see a fish it's nose in the trailing hairs of your spinner, only to turn away at the last moment or because you run out of water. This is where the figure "8" cam make or break your day. To performer this maneuver; as your spinner approaches the boat (rod length) make a right angle turn drawing the spinner across in front of you. At this point your rod tip should be in a water and starting to make an outward turn creating the top curve of the "8". With your rod tip remaining in the water continually drawing the numeral "8". Performing this maneuver at the end of each cast is not necessarily. When a fish is following or in stain water, or over deeper water these are time when the figure "8" will increase your hooks ups. One modification to the "8" is to run the lure in more of an oval shape, especially when dealing with larger fish. The wider curve in the oval shape helps bigger fish to stay focus on the bait longer before it changes direction. FIsh from deeper water generally follow at deeper depths, don't be afraid to stick your whole rod length down into the water with the reel just above the surface, while doing the figure "8" or oval. Fish form the depths are generally shy above coming to the top. Performing the figure "8" or the oval will definately increase to catch rate along with your hart rate!
Safety Pin (tandem)
Tandem spinner come in many sizes, blade combination and hook dressings, just like it's brother the inline. Tandem spinner can be used in the same manner as the inline. But as considered by many as a trolling lure. I find the tandem to be a good casting choice, when fish need that a little extra. The shape of these lures creates much larger visual profile along with the extra blade creating much more flash. These spinner are also pretty good for getting deeper into cover areas. The wire form which supports the blades access the a weed guards by deflecting weed strands to the side and away from the hooks. This enables these baits to be run trough the weed tops. By coming into contact with surrounding cover is sort of like knocking on Mr Muskie door. I love to buldge tandem spinners over weed beds, but they do create a lot of drag witch translates into very sore hands and forearms by the a days end. But all tat disappears in one "big bite". Tandem spinners can also be worked down long the bottom bumping the available structure. Adding a life sucker to a tandem spinner has been producing some really nice fish when slow rolling the bottom.
I think inline and tandem spinners are really good choice of baits to fish muskie due to their versatility in covering the wide range of conditions and cover. Also once a muskie puts a bite on your bait your hook up percentage will dramatically increase when fishing with bucktails. What I mean is muskie has a very powerful set of jaws. When they grab a body bait you must first break that grip, a then penetrate your hook into that hard bonny mouth. With bucktails there is only hair and hooks, nothing for muskie to get a grip on.
Don't forget that both tandem and inline spinners can be troll with great success. But that's is another game for another time. Check site for photos bucktails, custom colours, weight, bait rigs.
John Forsyth aka Jiggin Johnny or Fish On John