How to Troll for Suspended Muskies? A Simple Guide with Pro Tactics

Trolling offers great pleasures for muskie anglers, it’s a bit different from jigging and requires a combination of different tactics that can challenge the hardcore anglers to catch bigger muskies every time. But does it work for fish often caught with casting like muskies? Evidently, it does.

So how do you troll for suspended muskies? To troll for suspended muskies, you need to cast your bait choice of big crankbait or bucktail at different depths after observing the sonar machines, starting from 8 feet (2.4 meters) and deeper using multiple medium-heavy rods, lead-core line, and a planer board to increase open water coverage.

This nice experience requires the right tactic so you can guarantee your big catch of suspended muskies. And I’m here to give you a simple comprehensive guide to tell you all about. Read down below!

How to Troll for Suspended Muskies – A Simple Guide 

An image of a boat trolling for fish to illustrate how to troll for suspended muskies

Before going after suspended muskies, it’s important to understand how they choose a place to suspend and why they suspend in the first place. Experts attribute muskie suspension to things like heavy boat traffic, lack of shade provided by rocky structures and weed beds, or for feeding purposes. The latter is the key to doing the first step of trolling right, it’s much easier to spot muskies if you start your searching in the places they stay in to feed.

You can use your sonar machine as an easy effective way to spot suspended muskies. Spotting their markings means deciding which depth to go for, therefore, starting the actual trolling process. As a rule of thumb, in colder days muskies will be found deeper in the water, while on hotter days they’ll often be roaming the shallow.

Pro Tip
Make repeated passes with various speeds near likely spots; weed beds and rocky structures. This is effective in enticing muskies to catch the bait.

There are many choices that can be referred to as the right lure to troll for suspended muskies, depending on the season and weather condition, but we can assure you that crankbait and bucktail will work in most of them. Big crankbait running at various depths will be a good choice.

Using a planer board will also help you cover more water, which is one of the biggest advantages of trolling in the first place. It works by forcing lures out of your boat allowing for more coverage and keeping lures and lines out of the outboard motor path. If you’re fishing on a small boat, you better go with an in-line planer board. But if you’re fishing in a large area with a big boat, an independent planer board will be a better choice, allowing you to attach several lines for greater coverage. 

This is the Planer board I use (Amazon Link) in case you are looking for a new one.

Is trolling for suspended Muskies (and other baitfish) a good idea? 

So, is trolling for suspended Muskies a good idea? Yes, trolling for suspended muskies is a good idea that proved successful for many anglers who seek muskie at different times of the year. Muskies are known to be baitfish, however, trolling for muskies with the right technique can catch them no matter what depth they stay in.

Some people think trolling for muskies doesn’t offer great results, but the hard-core muskie anglers beg to differ. Trolling is as effective as casting and when done right it can be very effective for suspended muskies. In fact, some anglers argue that trolling can present greater results in catching suspended muskies than casting ever does. 

Sometimes Muskies are not as active in shallow waters as they often are, which makes trolling your go-to to cast your lures in different depths and cover a much greater area of water to double your chances. If they’re floating on a featureless flat with no way to know where they are, using casting would be a massive waste of time.

Muskies are hunters that don’t get tired of chasing, the speed trolling offers for them is irresistible. If you combined the right speed with the right lure and the accurate depth, you’ve got yourself a big catch.

What you will need to troll for suspended muskies 

Techniques are vital in successfully catching suspended muskies, but so are equipment. Trolling for muskies with poor equipment can blow up the whole process, these fish are big and vicious, and the added speed of the boat can end up cutting your line.

So what will you need to troll for suspended muskies? What you’ll need to troll for suspended muskies is:

  • multiple 8-to-9 feet medium-heavy rods with forgiving tapers. 
  • A lead-core fishing line
  • 3-to-4 ft wire leader
  • Reels with a 6.2:1 gear ratio.
  • Planer boards for spreading.
  • Bucktails or Crankbait. 
  • Sonar machines and transducers.

The medium-heavy rods, the lead-core line, the wire leader, bait, and the reels suggested above are chosen to put up with the heavy duties trolling requires so you don’t worry the next time muskies fight you or manage to get away.

Pro-Tip: choose your reel with line counters to determine how deep your bait is and be able to change it accurately when required. I recommend Okuma Magda Pro on Amazon.

It’s important to start casting in your lures where your fish might be. That’s where sonar machines come in handy. Suspended muskies are often found in open waters most of the time, you’ll find them deeper than 8 feet (2.4 meters) into the water, and to maximize your chances, stay near weed edges and rock structures.

However, it has been found that suspended muskies can be found in shallow water as well, so if you’re keeping your bait at 20 feet (6 meters) with no catch, maybe you’re keeping them too deep instead of too shallow. If you think that catching Muskies can only be done in deeper waters, you are mistaken. You can learn more about this in my guide on how you can catch Muskies in creeks here.

Muskies can be unpredictable sometimes and you need to be ready to change your plan on the spot. Having multiple trolling rods can be very helpful in this situation, whether you’re using a trolling set-up of four, six, or eight rods, make sure to adjust the depth of the lure differently on every rod. It’s better to follow your sonar machine that detects fish activities and cast your first lure then set other lures to be deeper or more shallow than this one. The lead core line offers you more depth control that can be helpful in changing your tactics.

How Fast Should you troll for Muskies? 

How fast should you troll for muskies? You should troll for muskies at the speed of 1 mph (1.6 km/h) or less. Slow trolling proved to be very effective in catching muskies. In some situations, you can speed up 3-to-5 mph (4.8-to-8 km/h), depending on the time you’re trolling in. 

The trolling speed depends on many factors like water temperature and time of day. If you’re fishing at night or in cold weather it’s better to keep it slow, at 1 or 1.5 mph (1.6 or 2.4 km/h). Hotter temperatures and sunlight might call for more speeding up.

The only way to be absolutely sure about the ideal speed is to keep changing it to optimize your results. Muskies change their mood a lot, sometimes they chase fast lures, and some other times they want to go much slower.

Can You Troll Bucktails for Muskie? 

So, can you troll bucktails for muskies? Yes, you can troll bucktails for muskies. Bucktails are a perfect go-to in almost any season and can be used in different fishing techniques. Its colors and mellow movements attract muskies to catch it whether it’s jigged or trolled. 

In addition to its physical features of attractive colors and suitable sizes that entice muskies, bucktails can work along the weed edges and rocky structures that can come in the way. Muskies are often found in these places, so getting a lure that will do the job in these places without getting hung up will definitely be a good idea.

Related Questions 

How fast do muskies grow? 

Muskies grow in a relatively fast way in their early years reaching up to 30 inches (76 cm) in 3 or 4 years. Their growth rate depends on where they grow, according to their feeding habits and water temperature. They grow up to 50 inches (1.7 meters) in some parts of the US. 

How much line should you let out when trolling? 

The length of the line you’re letting out while trolling depends on how deep you’re casting your lures. If you’re trolling in the shallow you can let out 5-to-8 feet (1.5-to-2.5 meters), going deeper than that requires more length let out.

What’s the ideal number of rods to use when trolling for muskies? 

The ideal number of rods you can use when trolling for muskies is restricted by the regulation of the state you’re fishing in. If you put that aside, the four rods set up is a good choice, it offers huge coverage and is easy to manage on the boat.

What are the best months of the year to troll for muskies? 

The best months of the year to troll for Muskies at night are October and September. Muskies are feeding heavily and constantly in the fall, resulting in faster bait catching. They can be found in various depths and can be caught with lots of bait options.

Helpful Resources 

Trolling Tactics to Catch More Fish

Perfect Trolling Speeds to Catch Game Fish

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