The figure 8, something asinine to a new muskie fisherman, heck until you see it work, it’s hard to believe. A lot of the times in muskie fishing, you may have your one opportunity to score on a giant, and if you blow it, you could be in for a long day of regrets.
I have adopted the figure-8 technique from a couple of the best muskie nuts I know, Travis Frank & Bob Turgeon. I remember what seems like a long time ago, when I was a pretty green muskie fisherman , having the proper execution of a figure-8 beaten into my head. I was young, so luckily, I doted on every word, trying to execute everything perfectly.
Here are a couple keys I have found to convert following muskies, into eating muskies!
I will start by quoting Bob “Practice on every cast so you can convert in the moment of truth instead of jerking the lure out of the water and yelling to your buddy “did you see that big fish” Saving the lure from the fish is NOT the objective here…..”
The reason why the figure 8 is effective is the change in direction and speed of the bait, triggering an aggressive predatory response. You need to set yourself up for a good transition into the 8, don’t be afraid to get close to the rail of your boat with a good athletic stance.
You will want to accelerate as the bait gets closer to the boat, reel all the way to the leader, and make the first wide turn of your 8, or an oval. If you see a fish lurking behind your bait, make sure to make wide turns, often switching to an oval configuration, rather than an 8. Wide turns are important for big fish, imagine turning a semi 180 degrees within a drive through lane, not happening. Often times the fish will hit on the turn lunging to cut the bait off.
I have heard the comparison of the 8 to NASCAR. You want to keep the bait higher in the water column on the turns, while going slower, and fast and, low in the water column on the straights. When I say low, I mean the reel almost in the water low.
The duration of the figure 8 is another topic of discussion. When I cannot visibly see a fish following in the daylight, I generally will perform 2 or 3 turns. At night when visibility is poor, I will double the amount of turns. When a fish is following, I will generally figure 8 for 30 seconds after the fish leaves sight. Often times they are lurking just out of sight, ready to strike again.
When a fish in need of a gastric bypass comes along, and decides she wants to stuff her face with some rubber, blades or what have you, there are a couple good ways to seal the deal. If I can remember, I like to set the hook against the grain, if she attacks headed southbound, I’ll try to send that lure right back into her, northbound. Often times I don’t remember to do this in the moment, so I will simply feel the weight give a nice forward pull and walk her around the boat, trying to prevent skyward head shakes. What ever you do, don’t pull up!
Now after hours of throwing and throwing and throwing, do not slack on the 8!, trust me, you don’t want to learn the hard way!