Figure 8's 101 : Boat Side Tactics

Written on 12/04/2022
Joe Bucher

The figure 8 technique is certainly nothing new in the musky world, yet few anglers have truly mastered this incredible technique. When done correctly, it can be super deadly. In fact, at times it seems like every musky in a lake wants to follow the lure and strike at boatside. However, some musky anglers are far better at this technique than others, and they are able to take full advantage of this weird behavioral trait that muskies have for following lures to the boat. Let’s take a closer look at what makes one angler’s figure 8 that much better than the next.

The actual technique of figure 8ing starts with a good transition from retrieve into the actual figure 8. An aggressive following musky is usually locked-on to your lure and the movement. If that lure movement is suddenly interrupted or stopped, the fish is likely to lose that intensity and bolt off. However, a steady, even uninterrupted movement transitioning into a big figure 8 is apt to keep the fish locked-on.

If you’ve successfully kept the fish’s interest into the actual figure 8, then the next step of the process begins. Now, put all your effort into making this as easy as possible for the fish to follow, overtake and eat your lure. Use every bit of the rod length to create a LARGE figure 8 with wide ROUND turns. Don’t do anything abrupt. Make it easy for this fish to take the lure. However, keep a close eye on lure speed. A big drop in speed might decrease the fish’s desire to chase. If anything, speed it up a bit. Especially when pulling the lure into the turn of “the 8”.

Also, try to actually read the mood of the individual fish as you go thru the figure 8 process. If you are observant, you will see what the fish likes the most. It might be a sudden burst of speed. Sometimes plummeting your rod tip deeper in the water creates more desire from the fish. Try a number of things. By the way, speaking of rod tips in the water – generally a rod tip in the water with a deeper “8” is more effective than a shallow “8”. Novice anglers are often shy about dipping that rod tip into the water on “the 8”, but I can assure you this does not spook a musky. In fact, I think it might even excite them more. My theory here is the fish simply looks at the rod tip as a stick, a weed or something else that is non-threatening. When a musky is hot on your bait, it doesn’t seem to even be aware of the rod tip in front of the lure. It is so locked-on the bait that nothing else matters.

A final trick is to pull extra hard and deep on the figure 8 turns, and then lift the lure up shallower as it goes into the “straight away” while I look for the following musky. If I see the fish closing on the lure, I immediately back off on the speed just a tad so the musky literally overtakes it. More often than not, the big fish will suddenly open its mouth and engulf the lure when you do this.
The figure 8 is one of the most unique techniques in all of sport angling. Once you master it, you will catch a lot more muskies and enjoy a level of success in the sport of musky fishing that few experience. Take the time to master the art of the figure 8 and you’ll soon discover it is one deadly way to trigger strikes from big toothy fish.