The Original Muskie Bucktail

Dan Dishaw vividly remembers his father, Curt, heading out to the river to slowly troll for top-water musky. He was hoping to catch a muskie that would feed his family for the upcoming week.

He used a multitude of different large wooden plugs, nothing like the variety one can get at a sporting goods store nowadays, but still, a sizeable collection. Still, He often turned to a lure that wasn't sold in any store, a lure that was used when times were tough, when he didn't have the money to buy a new muskie plug. It was the original "Bucktail" lure, simply the tail of a whitetail deer impaled on a big hook.

Bucktail LureNowadays, bucktails are in-line spinners with a skirt made out of deer hair, and they are still a staple of muskie angling. But before the trolling in-line spinnerbaits came along, there was the true bucktail lure. Many a muskie fell victim to those original bucktails, and Dishaw has the old black-and-white photos to prove it.

People who lived through the Great Depression knew that nothing should be wasted, that even a deer's tail could be valuable. Don Lucas, a long-time muskie fishing guide, said that anglers of old used all sorts of things for muskie lures, including feathers, bones and even antlers. Lucas even had an old raccoon tail made into a lure that was used for muskies. "They used what they had" he said.

There are several ways to rig a deer tail as a lure. But the first thing to do is cut out the bone and let the tail dry. Then hooks can be stuck in the skin, and that can make a pretty good lure for trolling.

Another variation, one Curt Dishaw used to use, was more of a jig. He would attach a large treble hook to a wire leader and then tie on several large, red feathers to the leader. Over the top, he would tie on the deer hair, giving the lure several contrasting elements. The pulsing red feathers imitated blood in the water, and the deer hair surrounding it gave the lure all kinds of life-like movement. Deer hair flows in the water, even at rest it moves; giving a lure a life of its own.

If you troll in the slop with it, you want to go slow so it can drop down a little in the water column. When casting, you can retrieve fast or slow, even pausing and working it like a jerk bait. The lure is extremely versatile because it can be worked along deep transitional cover or in shallow, weedy areas.

If you want to spice things up, a number of things can be done to doctor the lure and make it even more attractive to a hungry muskie. In front of the bucktail, you can add a Colorado or a Willow blade for flash, or you may add some rattles so it gives off vibration, especially if you plan on trolling it at night, a deadly option.

This lure is naturally buoyant because deer hair is hollow. But if you want to work it deeper, simply add weight. Use trolling sinkers to get it down in the water while trolling. If you are casting, slide heavy bullet weight on the line ahead of the lure.

While deer tails are naturally attractive, you can dye or paint the hair different colors, including fluorescent.
You can paint the skin of the tail white, black or any other color that adds contrast or makes the lure seem more attractive.

Choice of hook: treble or single, depends on a variety of factors. Single hooks work better in weedy areas because they don't snag on every cast. They are also easier to get out of a caught muskie, and fewer hooks mean less chance of hooking yourself when a 40 pound fish is thrashing in the bottom of the boat.

Large treble hooks, however, are the way to go when trolling because they add weight and also increase the chance for a solid hook set.

I tie enough bucktail lures each winter to last me the season, and I get all I need by simply asking my deer hunting friends to save them for me. Ask any butcher shop that processes deer in season, and you'll probably be offered more tails than you can possibly use.

Here are some easy to follow steps for making your own original muskie bucktails

To make sure everything stays in place, add a couple of drops of super glue at the hooks and also the swivel. When you set the hook on a big muskie, the glue connections break free and you get a solid straight-line connection to fight the fish.



You may also be interested in:

Read Full Article The Original Muskie Bucktail
There is a multitude of different large wooden plugs one can get at a sporting goods store nowadays for slaying goon muskies. But still, many anglers turn to a lure that, when it originated, wasn't sold in any store; the "original" muskie bucktail. Nowadays, bucktails are in-line spinners with a skirt made out of deer hair, and they are still a staple of muskie angling. But before the in-line spinnerbaits came along, there was the true bucktail lure. Many a muskie fell victim to those original bucktails
Read Full Article Jumbo Jigging for Summer Lakers
Local sports writer, Gord Ellis, shares some popular tips and techniques for lading monster lake trout using jumbo-sized jigs. Lake trout are predictable. " Jumbo jigging takes lake trout all around the calendar. If you like catching lunkers on simple tackle, look no further than this classic presentation.The jig-colour rule for lake trout is simple. Use anything as long as it's white. The majority of a lake trout's summer forage is some shade of white or silver..."
Read Full Article Fishing the Slop for Muskie
Local angling expert and sports writer, Gord Ellis explains some of his tips and tricks to make the most out of fishing sloppy areas filled with weeds that most anglers wouldn't even think twice about skipping. "Fishing the slop for muskie requires patience. You're going to be cleaning hooks, spinner clevises, and leaders of weed. It can drive you nuts, if you let it, but if you're willing to put up with a bit of hassle, fishing the slop is worth the effort."
Read Full Article Travelling Light
Gord Ellis, shares a small story and some great tips on how to pack/prepare for an extended trip canoeing/hiking or at your favourite fly-in destination, here in "Canada's Heartland", the Patricia Region. Carrying a 7-foot one-piece spinning rod is obviously out. So is that big tackle box. It's unwieldy and often requires an extra portage. Scale way down.
Read Full Article Trolling for Top-water Muskie
When I started fishing for muskies, I spent countless hours casting big bucktails, jerkbaits and top-water plugs over shallow weed flats without so much as a promising follow. It was suggested to me that I try trolling... ""Troll for muskies in four feet of water?" I commented. "I'll be hanging up in weeds all day." Initially, I got caught on the weeds, and lots of 'em. Every couple of minutes I had to stop to remove dense green cabbage from my line and lures...
Read Full Article Trolling Spinnerbaits - Trophy Muskie
Trolling spinner baits allows you to quickly probe prime locations, such as weed-flats and break lines, searching for actively feeding fish to enticing neutral ones to strike. Muskie trolling spinnerbaits allow you to quickly probe prime locations, such as weed-flats and break lines, searching for actively feeding fish to enticing neutral ones to strike.
Read Full Article Glowing Bait Info
Fishing with glow-jigs and crankbaits works extremely well in stained/turbid waters. This article explains why as well as gives you a few recommendations as to what to use. The ability to make a jig or crankbait glow has revolutionized the way people fish, most notably in cases such as icefishing for walleye. Factors such as shorter days, snow, increased cloud cover and snow drifts play a part in decreasing the visibility and water clarity for the walleye.
Read Full Article Walleye in Autumn
Writer explains just why the walleye bite can be so good in the autumn months. He also details various tips/strategies for angling and landing good sized fish in changing conditions on the lake. During the months of September, October and november; in the Upper United States and Canada, patterns develop that may land you your biggest/best walleye of the year. If you follow the progression of the season, you may catch big hog walleye up until the ice forms.