A simple game plan for trolling small blades.

Written on 05/17/2024
Steven Paul

Small Blades for Big Trolling Bites

Most musky anglers associate small bucktails and classic spinnerbaits with merely the first few weeks of muskies season but their usefulness throughout the remainder of the year shouldn’t be overlooked. While you should undoubtedly make the shift towards larger and larger presentations as summer progresses small classics like the Mepps Giant Killer and the Bucher 500 shouldn’t be riding the bench in your tackle box as we move further and further into the heart of muskie season.

The most obvious application for post spawn small blades is during cold fronts and sun prime light conditions. As weather patterns shift and blue bird skies dominate small blade presentations can be used to coax shallow yet reluctant muskies while casting. However, a far more interesting application for these small blades during cold fronts and tough conditions is trolling. Lures like the Giant Killer with its large willow blade tend to run deeper and can be utilized for trolling passes. For maximum efficiency one most likely will need to add additional weight to the line or leader using a clip-on bell sinker or rubber core sinker.

While the majority of muskie anglers will continue to beat the shallows to a froth during cold front conditions waging a trolling war on the breaks and out side weed edges adjacent to the shallows can yield tremendous results. Keep in mind that trolling speeds should be on the lower end on the spectrum but playing with speeds around the 3mph mark should set you down the right path. Trolling small blades along the outside weed edges and breaks is peak angling efficiency during bright, post frontal conditions as locating a semi active muskie becomes a matter of water coverage.

A slightly unconventional way of maintain trolling target depth with a small blade or bucktail is submerging your trolling rod. By adjusting your rod holder so that your rod is submerged you can gain consistent depth via slight adjustments. Small bucktails do not have much vertical lift as the surface area of their blades are small, so depth control is easily achieved in this manner. I will choose this delivery method over additional weights when floating weeds and debris are present.

Depending on your geographical location and seasonality heavy weed growth may be present even before the start of your muskie season. If this is the case outside edge trolling tactics are just as effective using spinnerbaits like the Slop Master and Steve’s Meat Grinder. As mentioned before adding weight or burying rods can help you achieve depth.

For anglers that don’t have previous experience trolling blades and spinners keep things simple. Utilize one rod and focus on keeping your lure running along the outside edge of weeds or a structural break. Anglers using a tiller can hand hold their rod allowing them to feel for weed fouling and know when it is making contact with cover and structure. It should be said that the less line you have out to achieve your target depth is typically better. Taking advantage of down rods or added weight can shorten the line length need to hit target depth with blades tremendously.

While trolling small blades and spinners along weed edges isn’t some new revolutionary idea it is a productive tactic that is rarely implement by modern musky anglers.  So, if you are faced with tough conditions this spring and summer, get out some down sized blades troll the outside edges and hold on tight.