Our Outdoors - by Nick Simonson

Late last summer while scrounging for replacement lure-making parts, I came across a badly worn muskie spinnerbait which had been reduced to a bare lure head, trailer hook and just one of two blades. Recalling some spare black and red flashabou tucked into my desk drawer back home, I took what remained of the lure in order to revitalize it. Three weeks later, while standing in line at a schoolmate's wedding reception, my brother called me from the water.
"Remember that black-and-red spinnerbait you redid," he asked, "well, I just landed two muskies - a 43- and a 41-incher - on three casts with it," he concluded, imploring me to crank out at least half a dozen more in a variety of colors and blade combinations for the next season.

muskie spinnerbait tutorial

Since then, I've been turning out big spinnerbaits to honor my brother's autumn request, and they have been the highpoint of the lure-making season for me this year. They're an oversized twist on a classic bait for his favorite enigmatic fish. And the wide variety of blades, beads and skirt materials that can be used to customize the baits means we have many new combinations of thump and shimmy for the wary muskellunge in our favorite waters. What follows is a tutorial to help get you started making your own spinnerbaits for muskie success; from here you can downsize and make spinnerbaits for pike, bass and even mini versions for crappies.

1 2.5-ounce spinnerbait frame with 8/0 hook and .051" wire
1 8/0 Mustad 354 Trailer Hook
1 Hank (20") of Magnum Flashabou
1 #5 Silver Willow Blade
1 #8 Silver Willow Blade
1 Easy-spin Clevis (.051" holes)
1 Spinnerbait Swivel
12 5/32" Silver hollow beads (.051" hole)
Size A Fine Tying Thread
Head Cement

To start, secure the spinnerbait frame in your vise so that the wire points to your left. This will make it easier to dress the hook with flashabou and keep the wire out of the way as you assemble the skirt. Make a thread base in the small skirt divot between the lure's head and the hook shank and apply head cement once complete (Figure 1).
Next, select a 20-inch hank of magnum flashabou and cut it into two even 10-inch hanks. Select about 20 strands of flashabou and hold them up against the skirt divot on the lure frame so the divot is halfway between the ends of each strand. Secure the strands of flashabou with a few wraps of thread around the tie-in area in the skirt divot (Figure 2). Form the main skirt by continuing to tie in new groups of flashabou strands adjacent to the previous strands, applying head cement to each new set of wraps for posterity. Ultimately, your skirt will be full and cover the entire circumference of the skirt divot, with no open spaces. Wrap the tie-in point with enough thread so that no flashabou is showing through and secure the thread with multiple half-hitches. Once the thread wraps are secured, you can trim the thread and cement the tie-in spot liberally, forming an unyielding primary skirt (Figure 3).
Set the main lure body aside to dry and secure the 8/0 trailer hook in the vise; tie in the thread near the eye of the hook, forming a thread bed, and apply cement. Select some flashabou from the remaining pile and cut it in half into two five-inch hanks. Trimming the ends of each clump of strands so that they are even will help produce a more secure tie-in point. Just behind the hook eye, begin tying the flashabou around the hook shank using even wraps (Figure 4). Once you have completely and fully formed the skirt on the trailer hook by tying in two layers of flashabou, trim the skirt material so it extends about an inch beyond the hook bend. Whip finish and cement the tie-in point for posterity.
In an effort to keep the trailer hook in place, I like to use shrink tubing around the eye of the trailer hook. Once the cement is dry, slide a 1/4-inch-long piece of 1/4-inch-diameter shrink tubing over the eye of the trailer hook, so that one end covers some of the thread wraps and the other just covers the front of the hook eye. Using a butane lighter (carefully and after the head cement has dried - as it is VERY flammable, particularly in its liquid state) for a heat source, shrink the tubing around the hook eye and let it cool (Figure 5). You can now run the hook of the main spinnerbait through the trailer hook eye and position it in the center of the main skirt.
To complete the lure, we'll add the blades and spacer beads to the empty wire arm. Start by threading an easy spin clevis on to the arm, stopping after the first hole has been placed on the wire. Thread a #5 willow blade onto the clevis, so that the convex side of the blade is facing the body of the lure. Then thread the other hole of the clevis so that the blade is secured on the wire arm (Figure 6). Follow the clevis with 12 hollow silver beads, enough to allow the secondary blade to move freely without interfering with the main blade which we will attach next (Figure 7).
Let the secondary blade and beads rest against the bend in the wire while you grip the very top of the wire arm with needle-nose pliers. Bend the wire around the pliers so that the wire comes back and touches itself, forming a loop where you can attach your primary blade (Figure 8). Attach the spinnerbait swivel to the hole in the main blade and the wire loop, using split-ring pliers to thread the swivel's split rings through both points, forming a firm wire loop-swivel-blade connection (Figure 9). With that, your lure is complete (Figure 10)!
Experiment with skirt materials, blade sizes and a variety of spinnerbait bodies in various sizes and head shapes. Use magnum blades, Colorado blades and Indiana blades to give the lure more flash and vibration, or go with a single large blade for a different offering. The possibilities are endless, making these baits easily customizable for slow-rolling in the depths or burning just under the surface. With a simple substitution of components, you'll have a selection of baits that are ready for whatever mood the muskies might be in on your favorite waters...in our outdoors.