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bass lures w/o leaders: are these guys nuts?
October 2, 2009
3:33 pm
Forum Posts: 225
Member Since:
March 26, 2004
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

OK, so many of you know that I'm living in NM and have been fishing for tigers that have been stocked since 2003. Right now there's a bunch of fish in the 30"-40" range, and the biggest are in the low 40" range. Multiple fish days are common. The fishery is C&R only, but might go to a 40" size limit next year.

Anyhow, I've been fishing for them the same way I did in PA: typical jerkbaits, bucktails, and crankbaits, with occasional speedtrolling. I do OK casting shallow when they're on, and can't move a fish when they're not (nothing really odd here). But most of the guys out here (all very good fishermen in their own right) have been doing well (from shore, even) with bass-sized tackle. They are typically not using leaders and don't get bit off often enough to change.

Just this past weekend I had a guy put a 30" tiger in my boat on a XR-10 (2") Rapala X-Rap fished w/ spinning tackle (it was hooked right in the tip of the lip, with just the back hook - easy release). I was fishing the usual stuff and came up empty.

Any ideas? Are these guys doing so well on little stuff because everybody's throwing it, or is there something to this (there are no other predators other than stocked trout in this lake)? Am I missing the boat by throwing big stuff? Does the very high density of fish have anything to do with it? If you put two guys in a boat anywhere else, would the guy fishing little stuff get any muskie action?

Then there's the ethical issue of fishing w/o a leader and breaking off lures, but these guys won't hear it because it messes up the action of their little lures. How do you respond to that?

I'd be interested in thoughts from some of you other guys who might have different experiences.


October 2, 2009
4:31 pm


My first tiger was caught while bass fishing a 5" jerkbait. I have seen it so many times that the bass guys out fish us with bass tackle. I also had a friend who landed a mid 40" tiger on a DT4 (3" lure). When I am targeting Tigers I always downsize the lure. Not all the way to bass size, but often throw 5-6" twitchbaits or smaller gliders. I always use a leader though. I have found that small (4-5") leaders directly attach to the lures usually don't mess up the action. Also floro leaders seem to help with fishing smaller lures. From the little research I have done on tigers and talking to people who know about them and pike, say it is the pike in them who likes smaller lures. I have never fished for pike, but from what I have read and been told you usually downsize from Muskie size plugs.

I am not expert at Tigers but have caught a few and never caught any on a lure bigger than 8".. I am sure just as anything else in fishing that it is not a set rule, but I believe fishing smaller lures brings up your chances to land a tiger. But I would not recommend no leader...a small leader is fine and shouldn't affect action

Hope this helps a little...


October 3, 2009
3:49 am
Forum Posts: 1749
Member Since:
January 19, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I talk wit guys at mercer alot that are at the ramp and ask how they did and almost every time they say they got a big pike or lost one at the boat sode. If its a reaction strike or hunger or just pissed, who knows. oh yeah, you cast 10 times as many times fishing bass baits,atleast i do unless im finessing. ha ha i would always use a leader though. I use it because a lure broke off in the mouth of a fish is possibly Death. And i want to be able to catch it again. Unless im Hungry! ha ha if its tigers in there i would try smaller lure wit a jerky motion, you know. just like bass fishin. Big Pick! kinda! ha ha seeya Good luck Ron

December 11, 2009
1:10 pm

the previous thread on what the best tackle box was got me to thinking about the lures i have trouble finding convenient storage for. mainly topwater lures with hook spreaders and trolling lures with large lips. what are the rest of you using for these types pf baits?

December 11, 2009
10:37 pm

Chris,i've got some experience with Tigers{no pro but have been fishing for them for a while}.
My experience:Down size{although i have a hand full caught/lost on 10" lures}
Leaders:Flouro should'nt impead the lures action too much{Although,i know someone with a s#*t load of muskies who doesn't use a leader and doesn't have a problem.Not for me though.}
Youve been at this for a while so you know the deal.Try it and see how it works.{and maybe let us know ::)}

December 14, 2009
5:10 am
Forum Posts: 225
Member Since:
March 26, 2004
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

We're frozen here now, so it will be April until I get to do the experiment, but I've decided to try a few things next season.

I get the downsizing thing, but when I think of downsizing I think of 5"-6" baits. I've been surprised how well these guys are doing on 3" minnowbaits. I think that the lack of a leader makes a difference on things that small, but I won't go so far as tying straight on to 15# mono. I'll try 30# fluorocarbon leaders for the smaller baits and see how that goes. For the usual hardware, I'll stick to steel or 80# fluoro.

I think that the incredible fish density (22 fish/acre) plays a role here. They have eaten the majority of the available forage in the lake, so it is possible that they've already worked through all of the normal-sized forage in the lake and are targeting smaller stuff now.

Also, I think the smaller baits work as a finesse approach for neutral fish (which they are most of the time). There are so many fish in the lake that you're almost guaranteed to be casting over fish and eventually one goes for it - it's usually a light bite, only hooked in the lip by the rear treble, almost like they're just nipping this thing that annoyed them. If that's all the harder they hit, you don't need a leader.

When they're moving, they'll eat big hardware (and probably bite off the little stuff). I've caught a bunch of them on 8" jerkbaits during feeding windows.

I think I've fished with the leader-free person you're talking about. Some of the experiences that he shared got me thinking more about this.

TorarodaMes - I cart most of my stuff around in a Plano 7915 hanging box with about half of the cards removed, but it gets messy with anything over about 11". If I don't have room for the big box, I also use a Plano Magnum 1152. They don't make the 1152 anymore but I'm sure you can find something close.


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