Last updated on October 15th, 2019 at 11:03 pm
Welcome to our complete guide on musky fly fishing. If you are a traditional musky fisherman then you are used to throwing big blades and heavy baits, and also trolling or using sucker rigs. Perhaps you landed on this page because you now want to learn about how to fly fish for musky. Or, perhaps you are already an experience musky fly fisherman looking for the best musky flies. Either way, you have come to the right place.
For most newbies to musky fishing, netting your first musky can be life-changing, as it marks the start of a perhaps crazy addiction to musky fishing. But what does one do after they have caught dozens, or perhaps hundreds of muskies in their lifetime, when they have spent boat loads of money on new musky lures, musky rods, and musky reels, when they have caught their first topwater musky, stopped fishing with live baits and ultimately landed that fifty-inch musky of a lifetime? What will their next musky fishing challenge be?
Quite a few traditional musky hunters have been emailing us and other musky fly fishing nuts, looking for new ways to approach the sport. This is a growing trend that we are seeing and we are happy to be a part of this transition for some. If you are someone who has spent countless hours chasing muskies and you have enough knowledge and experience to catch them frequently, then congratulations! You have a great head start on those fly fishermen who have never caught a musky before.
Musky Fly Fishing Gear
Just like when you may have been overwhelmed with tackle and gear options when you first began musky fishing, you might be having those same feelings when it comes to fly fishing for muskie. Don’t panic. Musky fly fishing is easy to learn. We tell all newcomers to keep it simple.
Best Musky Fly Rod
|#||MUSKY FLY ROD||MODEL||WEIGHT||CHECK PRICE & AVAILABILITY|
|1||Redington Predator Fly Rod||11||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|2||Orvis Clearwater||10||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|3||TFO Esox Fly Fishing Rod||11||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|4||St Croix Imperial USA||10||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|5||Orvis Helios 3||11||CLICK FOR PRICE|
When fly fishing for musky, at a minimum you want a 10-weight rod. An 11-weight may toss bigger musky flies, but it is more difficult to find in a shop. Your musky fly rod doesn’t need to be overly expensive. Actually, a slower action, entry-level fly rod can help reduce the learning curve a litte bit. It takes a lot of practice to cast heavy line and a big fly, and this type of practice you cannot do on your lawn, so a lighter weight musky fly rod can be more forgiving for a beginner just learning their casting stroke.
For us, the best musky fly rod that we feel offers the greatest versatility and value is the Redington Predator Musky, which is an 11-weight rode. Redington makes some quality products. However, another affordable and good quality starter rod which we often recommend is the Orvis Clearwater, which is a 10-weight. The TFO Esox is another solid choice for an 11-weight rod for starters. If you are the of person who wants top of the line gear up front, then you want the one-piece Orvis Helios 3 11-weight or the St. Croix Imperial USA 10-weight, both of which can be cast like laser beams all day long with 450 grain line.
Regardless of which musky fly rod that you purchase, make certain to mail in the warranty card. Fishing in rivers full of rocks takes a toll on fly rod tips.
Best Musky Fly Reel
|#||MUSKY FLY REEL||MODEL||CHECK PRICE & AVAILABILITY|
|1||Piscifun Platte Fully Sealed Drag Large Arbor||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|2||Orvis Battenkill||CLICK FOR PRICE|
|3||Waterworks-Lamson Liquid||CLICK FOR PRICE|
When it comes to musky fly fishing, the reel is only there to hold your line. Since muskies tend to be fighters, and not necessarily runners, you don’t need a super-wide arbor or fancy drag system. The best musky fly reel should be “set and forget”. It needs to be reliable and able to take abuse without pinching the line or bending the rim.
The three best musky fly reels for beginners that we recommend are the Piscifun Platte Fully Sealed Drag Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel, the Orvis Battenkill Reel, and the Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel.
Best Musky Fly Line
The best musky fly line is a sinking-head streamer line. As a beginner, you don’t need to worry about intermediates or floaters. For most musky fishing conditions, our favorite is Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 25 Cold – 450 grains for an 11-weight or 400 grains for a 10-weight. This fly line has a 25-foot sinking head, stays 3-5 feet below the water line, and casts big musky flies with a resounding “plop”. It won’t coil in the cold, thanks to it’s braided core, and even with cold, stiff fingers the line is smooth and easy to manage.
You also want to be sure to pick up some Seaguar 80 lb. fluorocarbon to use as a leader. You will need at least 4 feet to start. You might also want to consider the Scientific Anglers Premium Figure 8 Wire Leader.
Best Musky Flies
As a beginner, the best musky flies will be the ones that you buy. Don’t even think about tying your own as a newbie. Your time and focus should be on learning how to use your equipment. Leave the fly making til at least season 2 or 3.
What size flies for musky? Well, a better question is “how much fly can you cast?” Big fish like musky require big baits. Standard size flies for these fish are 10 to 12 inches. Start with about six flies which should last you all season. Out of those, you will likely use the same 2 or 3 most of the time anyway.
We suggest that you start with yellow and black, firetiger (black and orange/chartreuse), black and orange/red, and lastly an all black. For good measure, also throw in an XL cream and tan sucker pattern fly.
Today there many great fly-tiers that peddle their wares online and in some fly shops. Some places to find musky flies for sale are eBay, Facebook groups, and even craigslist.
Other Tools & Gear
For starters, you’ll want to pick up some really long bent-tip needlenose pliers, like these. These are essential for deep fly recovery. But in order to do this, you’ll also need a wire mouth spreader, assuming you don’t want cuts on your hands that can potentially bleed for hours. Speaking of avoiding blood, be sure to also get a good pair of musky release gloves.
Don’t even think about going musky fly fishing without a set of Knipex cutters for cutting hooks. There will come a time where you will need to cut the hooks to spare yourself and the fish from injury. Don’t go cheap on this much needed tool.
Perhaps the best tool needed to successfully release a musky is a giant, deep musky net. There are several good options to choose from. Check our post on picking the best musky landing net. There are even some good folding net options.
As soon as you have acquired all of the gear mentioned above, and after doing a bit of practice casting at home in your yard or a nearby park, your very next thing that you should do is to hire a professional guide for a day. A pro will not only show you some great fishing spots, but also help to ensure that you are setup properly and using your equipment most efficiently.
One final piece of wisdom, be certain to do a figure eight at the end of each retrieve, just like traditional musky fishing. This is super important.
If you made it this far, you should be adequately prepared to take on the challenge of musky fly fishing. Good luck, my friend. Happy fishing!