How to Fly Fish for a Muskie? A Detailed But Simple Guide

Muskies are known to be the fish of 10,000 casts, a thing that challenges the anglers to try different lures and techniques to catch this monster that likes to drag anglers around waiting for its bite. Fly fishing is one of the most popular techniques anglers use to catch muskies, but it can be a little bit different in its gear and techniques than regular casting, which calls for a simple detailed guide to get it right, even if you’re trying it for the first time.

So, how to fly fish for a Muskie? To fly fish for a Muskie you’ll need a 9-foot, 9-or-10 weight rods, a Light-weight reel, a braided sinking line with a 50- to-60-pound fluorocarbon leader, bucktail lure (smaller in summer and spring than in fall and winter), 2/0 to 6/0 hooks, and a quality Muskie net.

Written below is a simple guide for you to start your fly fishing for muskies with the right technique. Keep reading to know what it takes to get these game fish on the hook!

The Basics of Fly Fishing for a Muskie

A man flyfishing to show how to fly fish for a muskie

Using the gear mentioned above will ensure a successful technical setup for fly fishing a muskie. However, the way you use them is how you guarantee your catch of big muskies. 

To successfully fly fish for muskie, you need to cast your fly in one of many places Muskies are likely to stay in. A sonar machine will help you spot them but if you are not using one, targeting weed beds and rock structures are two of the most likely spots to find them. Muskies tend to stay in these places waiting for a potential meal or seeking shade from the light. Cast your lures 5-to-8 feet (1.5-to-2.4 meters) into these spots for better results.

After casting, make sure to hold the line under your fingers (as shown below) and give it a quick jerk by about one foot and keep pulling and stopping to give your fly a realistic movement that can appeal to hungry Muskies. This should be done without moving the tip of the rod. If you’re not getting any strikes with the speed you’re using, increase the pulling speed until it succeeds in triggering a muskie to chase your fly.

Using the figure eight technique at the end of every retrieve entices muskies to catch it. When a Muskie is successfully caught, strip the fly line back hard with the rod aimed down straight at the fish and keep holding tight. After getting the Muskie out of the water be ready with a Muskie net to be able to handle it safely for measurement or pictures without things getting out of hand.

Pro Tip
keep an eye on your flies before you take them out of the water, muskies tend to follow a fly without striking until the very last moment. So making sure there is no fish around before taking your fly out will prevent the loss of a catch.

The 4 Main Muskie Fly Patterns 

When it comes to choosing lures and flies, you can drown in possible varieties and options which can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to choose from the entire 10,000 casts that Muskies bite into, these 4 are the most popular effective patterns made or used by muskie experts:

  • Double Buford by Brad Bohen is made with bucktail, a few saddle rooster feathers, and some flash. The rooster feathers come first, then the over-tie of bucktail, and it’s laid back over. It proved to be very effective to catch big muskies with their colors and flash.
Credit: FrankenFly
  • CF Tandem Baitfish by Rainy Riding is constructed from one material with a little bit of flash. It sinks slowly, sheds water when taken out, and has a great side profile. It comes in 16 different patterns that imitate lots of fish muskies prey on. It’s less expensive than a bucktail but can hold up to muskies weight.
  • EP Streamer by Enrico Puglisi is made from 3 synthetics, like EP or SE with 3D Minnow fibers. It’s tough yet light and holds a profile. It proved effective to catch big muskies.
  • Optimus Slime by Eli Berant is a combination of synthetic material for the head and a mix of bucktail, long feathers, and Crystal Flash for the body. 

These are different patterns and colors you can use or copy from to make your own unique fly for your next fishing trip for muskies.  You can also check out these awesome fly fishing lines here, these are the ones that I use regularly and have been using over the years with great success.

It’s very important to change flies during the day if you’re not getting much action. Changing might be from large flies to smaller ones, or from bright colors to darker ones so getting on the boat with one type and shape of flies may not result in satisfying results. I

Pro Tip
when fly fishing in clear waters, choose more nature-oriented colors and patterns for your flies, while shades of oranges and blacks will be more visible in muddier waters.

Muskie Fly Fishing Setups or Rigs 

Fly fishing is all about the right gear and technique. Its gear and setup should be relatively easy to use and lightweight, as most anglers spend so many hours fly fishing for muskie, and trying to catch one can be exhausting after a while.


So to avoid the exhaustion of chasing down such fierce fish like muskies, you’ll need a strong but light fly fishing rod to be able to put up with large fish without draining your energy. The lightweight of your rod will also be beneficial when you need to use Figure 8 when enticing a muskie near your boat, it’ll help you have smooth frequent moves with comfort.


The fly fishing reel is not a part most anglers rely on when fishing for muskies. The successful most used techniques don’t count on reels, so the only important thing you’ll be looking for when choosing a reel is that it has to be lightweight to balance the rod, comfortable, with a smooth drag, and of good quality.

Lines and Leaders

The line used for muskies will depend on how deep you’ll fly fishing according to prime time and season. It’s better to go for braided sinking lines which will allow you to cast your heavy flies down 3-to-5 feet (about 1-to1.5 meters) below the surface, which is a prime zone for Muskies.

Braided lines are stronger than other lines and work well with Muskies that get out with a fight nine times out of ten. The heavy fluorocarbon leader will be important to connect your line to the lure you’re using without worrying if Muskies will bite it off.

How to Find Good Ambush Points for Muskies? 

Fly fishing is all about finding muskies where they are, and luckily, there are few points you can concentrate on depending on where you’re fishing.

So how do find good ambush points for muskies? To find good ambush points for muskies you need to target these points:

  • Out of the main current flow in general. 
  • Around weed beds, water plants, and weedy edges. They stay there motionless waiting for prey, so targeting them in these places will pay off.
  • Rock and brush piles. Especially in winter and cold conditions in general. They provide good shelter and can be an easy spot for muskies to wait for easy prey.
  • Shallow waters in winter and fall, deeper waters in summer and spring. It’s a key to spotting muskies almost everywhere, as they tend to stay in darker colder waters seeking shade from the sunlight and heat.

You can make this mission easier and less time-consuming if you can use sonar machines that detect fish markings, it can help you locate your muskie and know the exact depth for more effective lure casting. There are different options you can choose from found on Amazon, I recommend using LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder for good results.

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Related Questions 

What is the best bait for Tiger Muskies? 

The best bait for Tiger Muskies can be picked from topwater lures, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and rubber baits. However, the only way to pick a single one is by experience and several trials on different types of waters.

How Rare is it to catch a Tiger Muskie? 

Tiger Muskies are rare to catch as they are rare to find, they’re the rarest and most elusive of North American esocid. Your chances to catch a Tiger Muskie that exceeds 30-inches (76.2 cm) are relatively low, especially that they don’t exist in a lot of water bodies.

Why Are Muskies Considered Rare? 

Tiger Muskies are considered rare because they are a hybrid of a female Muskellunge and a male Northern Pike, a thing that doesn’t happen more frequently in the wild. Their distribution in the US waters is relatively small as well.

Helpful Resources 

Franken Fly

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