Best Livebait Rig? – Unique New Crank Colors – Huge Ice Musky

Best Livebait Rig? – Unique New Crank Colors – Huge Ice Musky

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Jer's Livebait Setup

There's been many different interpretations on the "livebait rig" over the years – quick strikes, single hooks, Dahlberg rig, etc.

This week, we stumbled on a VERY well-written In-Fish article from Cory Schmidt talkin' livebait fishing and breakin' down Jeremy Smith's go-to fall sucker rig.

It's definitely an interesting setup if you've only ever used traditional stuff....

Here's a quick illustration of Jer's modified bridal rig:

Jeremy Smith Musky Rig

The diagram above actually does a good job of breaking down the rig, but here's the writeup from Cory on the various components, starting at the hook end:

"Smith’s rig employs a single 4/0 VMC 9617 treble hook attached to a 5- to 10-inch length of 30- to 50-pound-test TyGer or other tieable wire, with shrink-tube over the wire attachment area and hook eye. A wire loop is formed at the opposite end of the wire, as an attachment point. He puts a rubber band around the body of the baitfish and runs the wire hook-rig beneath it, pinning the hook in place."

The biggest benefit of using all these rubber bands is zero hooks are penetrating the flesh of the sucker – allowing for maximum health, activity and longevity. And lively suckers get more bites....

Here's a breakdown of the nose-end of the rig:

"The front half of the rig resembles a bridle rig, which connects the main wire leader to the hook-rig via a second rubber band run through the sucker’s nares, keeping the presentation naturally in-line. Smith uses a homemade bait needle—a length of rigid wire with an open loop (clip) on one end. He clips another smaller rubber band and his 30-inch titanium fishing leader to the needle, the rubber band double looped to the leader’s snap. The needle and rubber band pass through the nares of the bait, where Smith then removes the needle and clips his titanium leader to the wire loop on the hook rig."

For those of you who don't read the dictionary for fun, "nares" is just a fancy word for "nostrils" 😉

Since the sucker is attached to the rig exclusively with rubber bands, it should easily bust-free from the hardware without an aggressive snap-set (what most folks do).

Here's a look at Jeremy's sucker sweep-set:

Musky Sucker Hookset

This is how he describes it:

"Once I establish the right angle, I reel down until the rod just starts to load and sweep it firmly and slightly to the side until I feel solid weight."

Just something for you to chew on during the long, cold winter ahead....

Slick New Crank Colors

Love, love, LOVE seeing all the new schtuff from bait makers this time of year.... whether it's brand new baits or fresh paint on a proven fish-catcher.

Wanted to give a quick shotout to H2O Tackle for some extra-slick new colors they dropped earlier this month:

h2o Tackle Colors

From left to right:

  • Top - Blue Flash, Green Flash, Lemon Flash
  • Middle - Orange Flash, Red Flash, Pink Disco Shad
  • Bottom - Purple Disco Shad, Blue Herringbone, Chet

And our personal favorite Citrus Herringbone:

Citrus Herringbone Color Bait

Also diggin' the video they posted, lookin' at each new color in the sun and underneath a UV light:

Red Flash (Color)

S'More Sucker Thoughts....

Another interesting tidbit from Cory's In-Fish writeup:

"While muskie anglers prefer to wield sucker rigs in fall, most studies reveal that muskies selectively target wild suckers least often in fall, and most frequently in spring. During the Wisconsin study, numerous muskies were observed near shallow sucker spawning areas, many of them with large catostomids in their stomachs at this time."

I know some guys are already running suckers in spring, but it's not super common.

Guessin' the biggest problem would be finding good suckers at the bait shop, but you could always catch your own when they're making their spawning runs, then save 'em for opener. It's honestly not a tough task if you know where to find them and how to get them to bite.

What if spring sucker fishin' is actually better than fall sucker fishin'? 😂

Think of the Possibilities

Muskies on Ice!

Now that northern Wisconsin has officially outlawed ice fishing for muskies, there aren't too many places left you can target 'skies through hardwater.

One place you CAN chase 'em is in Quebec (zone 8)....

That's where Andrew Walker caught this ridiculous 53 inch tanker:

Ice Fishing Musky

^ That monster is the biggest 'skie Andrew has caught through an ice hole, and she showed up less than an hour into his first ice musky trip of the year....

And here's the clean release shot:

Musky Ice Release

Not gonna give ice fishing for muskies the thumbs up 👍 .... Lots of valid concerns about the health of the fish, but wanted to give Andrew props on an impressive catch.


– Some sweet boatside LOTW bites w/ Doug Wegner (video)

– Musky genetic seminar w/ Jordan Weeks (video)

– 2021 Musky Hunter TV Intro (video)

– Solo Softail musky catch (video)

– Johnson Outdoors up 9% in fishing category (link)

musky hunter tv


Martin Bérubé put the final exclamation points (!!!) on his 2020 musky season with this ultra-chunky 55 x 27 inch fall 'skie!

Quebec Musky

Another morbidly obese musky hit the net.....

This one's from WI guide John Riegel – measurin' out at 53 x 27.25  👀

Wisconsin Musky

Congrats to Stephane Pigeon on boating this impressive 55" Canadian steamroller!

Not bad for his first-ever musky 🔥

PB Musky

Big props to out-east fly guide Scott (@gmoney5381) on boating this chunky 51 x 25 inch fall fly-eater:

Fly Fishing Muskies

Believe she lunched this crazy lookin' setup:

Musky Fly

Wanna be featured on Musky Insider? Send in your recent trophy musky photos by replying to this email. You might just see your pic in next week's newsletter. 🤙

Muskies Inc

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