Ticking and Clicking Canadian Reefs

Written on 07/05/2024
Steven Paul

With serious musky angling on the docket for the remainder of July and August muskie excitement is at a fevered pitched. While the majority of us are praying for a shallow water blade and top-water bite at times these perfect conditions are not present and continued success is dependent on our flexibility. When weed and shallow bays are not producing for me on the Canadian Shield lakes one of the most dependable ticks in my musky play book is clicking and ticking rocky reefs and points.

While at times it can be as simple as throwing a crank-bait at the nearest rocky structure consistent success ticking & clicking takes a bit more of an engaged focus on some of the smaller details of this presentation style. With monster Canadian muskies on many serious musky anglers’ minds let’s look at a few ways to dial in your reef and rock ticking and clicking presentation style.

The key component to success ticking and clicking a reef or rocky structure is the proper style of presentation. As the name suggests the goal is to make contact with hard structure and cover. While the sound produced from hard and sustained contact can and will contribute to success at times it more so can be attributed other factors. The first being proximity, if we are making contact with structure consistently it means we are closing the proximity gap between out presentations and structure tight muskies. Secondly this presentation expertly mimics not only wounded bait fish but also the foraging nature of feeding small mouth bass as they pick prey items from the bottom. Both of these elements exemplify extreme vulnerability to any muskies present which can prompt even the most sluggish muskies to react in a positive manner.

Properly making tick and click retrieves requires a feel to when your crank-bait has made contact with the bottom followed by an immediate pause which allows your crank-bait to rise slightly before reengaging and make further contact in a repetitive manner. Contact can and should be made repeatedly until your crank-bait is approaching open water where the transition to a straight retrieve should be made until ending in a figure eight.

Properly utilizing ticking and clicking on Canadian reefs and rocks is a matter of proper lure selection. The first element of this is knowing how deep the reef or rocks you are targeting are followed by selecting a crank-bait that quickly hits these target depth. For instance, if a reef is submerged a mere five feet a classic lure like a Depth Raider would be an appropriate choice. However, a reef that is ten feet or more might require a Big Fork Reef Digger or even a countdown crank-bait.

 A quick rule of thumb for successful ticking and clicking is considering the deepest point on the structure that you intend to target and adding two feet to the average running depth needed for a proper lure selection. An example being a reef submerged four feet under the surface would merit a lure that consistency runs down at six feet for the best ticking and clicking action. I would note that the brand of lure matters very little to me as proper running depth trumps all others as my primary consideration.

Running depth is followed closely by size and profile as at times smaller presentations are needed if Shield Lake muskies are negative and neutral. Keep in mind that clicking and ticking rocks and reefs is not solely a deep-water endeavor and these same principles can and should be applied to shallow reefs and subsequently shallow running crank-baits.

After selecting an appropriate lure with running depth being your primary consideration boat control and precision casting needs to be your next area of focus. With continued and sustained contact being our goal, we need to minimize the negative effects of boat drift by either spot locking via out trolling motor or anchoring. Regardless of what means you use holding a consistent position adjacent to rocks and reefs allows for us to have a better feel and focus on continued and sustained structural contact.

Depending on how negative and neutral that reef and rock tight muskies are should highly influence your casting distance from the structures. At times muskies that are extremely sluggish need to be brought into the figure eight as quickly as possible as a means of a change up, while at times spooky muskies require extra time in open water adjacent from a reef before committing to a crank-bait. This is a day-to-day judgment call but should be considered constantly as it is a key component to success. Re-calibrating your casting distance should be considered consistently after any muskie feedback, catches or nonproductive follows.

A productive ticking and clicking retrieve can be as simple as reeling into a rock and letting the lure float back but as you gain a better feel for your lure and the structures you are targeting adding something a little extra is often productive. When using straight floating crank-baits, I will often make quick bottom contact followed by a repetitive slack line rip. When done in an aggressive manner your lure will slam back into the reef or rocks with little to no forward advancement subsequently allowing sluggish reef dwelling muskies to dial in on your presentation. This slack line rip is deadly during tough Canadian cold front when muskies seek refuge on reefs and rocks that retain warmth during these tough conditions.

Regardless of where you are targeting muskies adding clicking and ticking to your rock and reef game can and will save your day or entire trip during tough conditions. Focus on running depth, perfect boat control and good retrieves and you will put more muskies in your net.



Steven Paul