Soda/Gill Trick Debunked? – Leader Tips – Wonky Lookin' Esox

Soda/Gill Trick Debunked? – Leader Tips – Wonky Lookin' Esox

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Musky Frenzy

Soda/Gills Trick Debunked?

Soda Pop

Does pouring Coke or Mt. Dew on a musky's gills REALLY stop the bleeding?

Turns out, maybe not....

According to a recent study from Alexandria Trahan in Ontario:

"We found no differences in the time to cessation of bleeding, gill colour (which was used as an index of blood loss), or bleeding intensity among three carbonated beverages poured over bleeding gills, or between the carbonated beverages and a control group."

So why does it look like the bleeding stops when you douce damaged gills with a carbonated beverage?

Trahan's theory: the combination of air exposure and CO2 causes bradycardia, essentially stopping the fish's heart for around 30 seconds, which would account for the lack of bleeding.

We're not saying you should take this study as gospel, but we'd encourage you to read it through and make up your own mind. They used northern pike as test subjects and the study hasn't been peer reviewed yet, but the data is interesting. 

Obviously we don't know the longterm effects of dumping soda on gills either....

It's interesting science and we'll let you know if we hear anything else on the topic in the future 👍

Musky Leaders: Keep it Simple

Musky Leaders

Seems like there's a trend in the musky world of folks getting too bent out of shape about having the "perfect" leader for each situation.

The result: they're spending too much time cutting & re-tying and not enough time casting and putting their baits in front of fish.

There are endless options available, but Josh Borovsky has settled on four leaders he has tied up at all times that allow him to cover just about every tactic:

  • A fluorocarbon leader with a ball bearing swivel
  • A multi-strand leader with a ball bearing swivel
  • A straight wire leader with a ball bearing swivel
  • A straight wire leader without a swivel


Fluorocarbon leaders are great for a couple reasons: The low-visibility characteristic is nice, and they don't kink when you catch fish or get the bait fouled on the leader.

Again, that means less re-tying and more casting. For that reason, I will use fluorocarbon for almost any application I can get away with.

I'm a fan of the 200lb fluorocarbon leaders. I had used 150lb leaders in the past, but that changed when a mid-50 inch musky sawed one of them in half.


200lb fluorocarbon can be a little bit too much for smaller cranks, twitch baits, tubes and some topwaters – that's where multi-strand leaders come into play.

The thinner diameter is great for fishing in heavy vegetation, too. Instead of getting caught up in the weeds, your leader will knife right through them.


I like to use straight wire leaders without a swivel for walk-the-dog topwaters, gliders, and dive-and-rise baits.

That said, some baits perform better with a ball bearing swivel than without – the Phantom Soft Tails being one example.


Some anglers prefer split rings because they want to avoid snap failures, but I've yet to have a Stay-Lok snap fail in my boat.... and I've seen split rings fail more than once.

In my opinion, the most important factor, whether you're using snaps or split rings, is occasionally checking them for wear, weakness or partial openings.

That should eliminate 90% of the issues we run into. The other 10% can be attributed to people over-pressuring and horsing fish.

The reason I like using snaps is because they make it quick and easy to switch lures – this can be critical when you're circling back on a fish with multiple baits.


Keep in mind, your rod positioning and the action you impart into the bait will often have more impact on your presentation than the leader you're using.

I see many people fish topwaters with their rod down by the water like you'd fish a bucktail. If you simply raise your rod tip so the swivel is above the surface, the existence of a swivel on the leader will becomes somewhat irrelevant in terms of making the bait sink or dig.

Obviously, the trick here is to position your rod high enough to get the performance you desire without compromising a good hookset. As the bait gets closer to the boat, your rod position should continually creep lower and lower. 

Of course, some leaders work better for certain applications, but don't get to hung up on using the "perfect leader" if you experiment you will get a good feel for what really makes a difference in performance and what doesn't.

If you have established a pattern and know you will have a very specific bait welded to your rod the rest of the day it probably makes sense to use the optimal leader. But if your just trying to dial things in and cover water, then constantly changing and retying just doesn't make sense to me.

The most important factor is having something you can trust. The leader is your connection between you and the fish, and you don't want to be worrying about a leader failure when you're hooked up with a giant. I like Stealth leaders because their connections are tied and also crimped for added peace of mind.

Extra-Ugly Esox

We were scrolling through the socials when we came across a post on Pete Maina's page with some naaaaasty lookin' pike and musky pics.

Of course, we had to share a few of our favorites here.....

This broke-back 'skie from Joshua Brunner looks completely clean and healthy if you ignore the fact that it's shaped like one of Bo Jackson's baseball bats after a bad strikeout.

Broken Back Musky

This two-toned weasel of an Esox from Eric Seeman gives a whole new meaning to the term "Ugly Pike".

Ugly Pike

This musky from Doug Jenkins looks how most of us probably feel after a long weekend doing yard work instead musky fishin' 😂 #LowerBackPain

Humpback Muskie

I just picture this pike from Jeffrey Lehr getting all bent outta shape after zig-zagging behind an aggressively worked glide bait.... 😉

Zig Zag Northern Pike

If you've caught any extra-ugly Esox, email us at and send 'em our way! 

Bass Beware!

Musky don't eat a ton of bass, but we know those toothy buggers are opportunistic and will eat just about anything they can get their chompers on.

Bass, walleyes, etc. are especially vulnerable when they're attached to the end of your line.... and muskies won't hesitate to take advantage!

Sometimes they manage to escape the attack:

Bass Musky Attacks

Other times, they aren't so lucky. Here's the most common outcome.... #CHOMP

Striking Muskies

Now if only they would wallop our topwater lures with this much conviction.... 😂


– Fishin’ New Musky Water w/ Doug Wegner (video)

– Broken rod, hand lining musky (video)

– Stealth Tackle edition of Musky Hunter Mag (video)

– Musky on a popper with Todays Angler (video)

– Topwater Musky Tips (link)

– Mike Keyes’ lost Utah footage (video)

– Green Bay Opener w/ Burnin’ Eights (video)

– Miuras Mouse Custom Rig (video)

– Storm front musky fishing (video)

– 4 days of trolling on LSC (video)


(Times based on Minneapolis)

Lunar Calendar

stealth tacklelake labssupernatural big baits


Huge congrats to Melissa Durocher on popping her new PB musky jigging a Bondy!

Great Lakes Musky fishing

This 51.5" bucktail muchin' musky couldn't resist Nick Kushnerik's 8/9 Stagger.

Look at her snarling back at the camera during the photo opp, too!

Musky Bucktail Fishing

Nighttime is the right time!

Feast your eyes on this big bodied Minnesota whale of a 'skie – 53.5 inches and Darian Rubner's new PB. 🔥

Minnesota Musky

The Ontario Musky Opener treated Liam Whetter pretty dang good this year, culminating in this extra-girthy springtime slobasaurus!

Canada Muskie Fishing

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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