By: John Dettloff John Dettloff, 1994
From the book, Surface Bait Subtleties

John DettloggToo many Musky anglers under estimate the effectiveness of surface lures and, all too often, are found possessing only a spattering of token surface baits in their tackle boxes - lures which commonly collect more dust than teeth marks. Contrary to what some anglers may think, surface bait fishing for Musky is not solely restricted to just the shallow, darker water, lakes and flowages, nor is it a thing of the past.

The fact is, while darker waters such as the Chippewa Flowage are likely to yield optimum top water results, surface baits also produce very well on a wide variety of waters including rivers, clear water natural lakes, Canadian shield lakes (Lake of the Woods, Rowen Lake and Lac Seul to name a few). And even Georgian Bay. And on many of these waters, where sub-surface has long been the rule, surface baits frequently offer the Musky something completely different.

Now while I don't consider a Musky to be a creature capable of logic and reason, primordial instinct may at times make old esox a little leery of the commonly thrown lures. So it can't hurt to throw lures that these finny beasts haven't seen before.

The perception that surface baits are a thing of the past is best explained by examining the availability factor of today's Musky lures. Today, there are substantially less quality surface lures available on the market than there were years ago; where as, the availability of quality jerk baits, divers, and bucktails has dramatically increased during recent years. While the availability factor is making surface lures less dominant in the marketplace, make no mistake - they are still irresistible to Mr. Musky!

Just how irresistible? Well, being a self-admitted "data cruncher", let's examine just how productive surface lures have been for my guide clients and myself. Of the 450 Musky over 30 inches that I've boated during the past 20 years up to the 15th of October (what I consider the end of the prime artificial bait season), 265 or 59.3% were caught on surface baits and the remainder of those fish were caught primarily on bucktails and jerk baits.

And what about BIG FISH? Well, the success percentage climbs even higher. Out of 18 Musky in the 25# class or better, boated within the same time frame, 13 or 72% of the big fish came on surface lures. The stats help bear out what topwater Musky hunters have been saying for years - surface lures are BIG FISH baits!