I know, I know. This isn’t the first article ever written about how to fish these hot new giant in-line spinners, often referred to as “twin tens” or “big blades”. These giant in-line spinners sporting two super large blades and usually a hardy tail dressing of tinsel are one of the hottest lure crazes of recent times. What I hope to add in this article is a solid foundation of what it takes to fish these lures effectively.
I have spent a great deal of time in the past few years really testing out these giant spinners, and in the process I have even created my own version called the Buchertail Mag Tinsel. There’s no doubt that this new lure is much more than just a fad. The unique combination of tandem # 10 Colorado, Indiana or Fluted blades creates a vibration, flash and attraction that seems to literally “wake up” big muskies. “Big blades”, “twin tens”, or “Mag Tinsels” as I like to call ‘em are big musky magnets. It is in your best interest to add them to your arsenal.
What I want to accomplish here is to go beyond the surface hype of this bait category and really dive into the nitty gritty of how-to rig up and fish these baits for maximum effectiveness. This includes everything from the best reel to the best rod to the best line to the best leader. The shere size of this bait combined with the tremendous weight and drag this lure creates as it comes thru the water demands very specialized gear. It also requires very specialized tactics from the way the lure is cast to how it is retrieved. This might have been discussed to some degree in a few past issues, but I am certain this article will hit on a few new things and hopefully help you get the most out of the most popular new innovations on one of the oldest and most revered of all musky lures – the in-line spinner.
A REEL DIFFERENCE!
“Twin tens” create tremendous drag or pull against the rod and reel, as well as your arms, shoulders, wrists and hands during the retrieve. On a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the worst, most of the “twin tens” initiate lure drag at the 4 level. After ten to twelve hours of casting, many would argue this level is near 5. This is why many musky hunters simply give up on this bait in short order. They simply can’t keep up the pace of casting and retrieving this physically demanding bait for hours on end.
Most of today’s hi-speed baitcasting reels simply don’t have the gear power to grind these big baits home. However, Abu Garcia has changed all that with the introduction of their new Revo Toro Series in a lower geared model called the Winch. Available in three sizes, the largest one, #60, is tailored perfectly for “twin tens”. It features a lower gear ratio, extra large power handles, and a very ergonomic palm fitting profile that honestly tames the “twin tens”. I am amazed at what a difference this reel has made in fishing these lures. The Winch 60 has solved the biggest problem I had with these lures – fatigue. My wrist and hands would literally wear out after six to seven hours of hard casting “twin tens”. The Winch 60 has nearly eliminated this factor from my game. It honestly makes that big of a difference.
A LONGER ROD RULES
The move towards longer rods is nothing new, but “long” use to mean 7 feet. Now 8 to 8 ½ footers are the choice stick of many seasoned pros. Yet, few anglers still understand what advantages they (extra long rods) truly offer. Arguably, a shorter, stiffer musky rod actually throws a heavy weight lure like a “twin ten” in-line spinner far easier than a long rod does. It’s less fatiguing to the arms and hands simply due to lighter overall weight. This is particularly true of a medium-heavy power 6 ½ to 7 footer. They are light (weight) in the tip and quick on the cast. However, they fall dramatically short on several key performance issues as soon as the cast is made. Most notable shortcomings of short rods are: 1) long range line pick-up, 2) large figure 8 manipulation, 3) long range hooksets, and 4) big fish battles.
These four key factors demand a specially designed extra long 8 foot medium-heavy power rod. The “big stik” 8 footer not only performs, but excels on all these fronts. Long range line pick-up is absolutely key for bulging big blades at the end of long casts. A short rod can’t deliver here. Basic physics of a shorter rod do not allow ample line pick up, yet a “big stik” does it with ease. Secondly, extra large, wide and deep figure 8’s are difficult if not impossible with shorter rods, but are easily executed with the “big stik”. Thirdly, it is very tough to generate enough power on a hookset at long range with a shorter rod, but this is not an issue at all with an 8 footer. The sweep of a “big stik” hookset slams home the hook easily from any casting distance.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to the “big stik” 8 foot musky rod, however, is after a big fish is hooked. I have argued for years that short stiff rods have a tendency to rip larger holes in the fish’s mouth during the fight due to dramatic increases in tension during a power run, jump or even the initial hookset. The lack of bend in this rod style also can have a reverse effect -- too little pressure. Sudden turns or runs towards the boat, or even the backside of a big head shake can create slack. All of this promotes a higher % of losses during battle.
Extra long rods with a good bend absorb the highs and lows of any battle and apply an even pressure throughout the fight. They don’t allow too much or too little tension to occur. The deep rod bend negates line breaking power runs and hook bending head shakes. But best of all, it keeps a constant pressure, tension and tight line on a big fish at all times. This drastically reduces a big fish’s ability to shake out the hook. The end result, of course, is a higher success rate.
SUPER BRAIDS ARE SUPERB
Extra large musky sized lures definitely put a huge demand on all tackle, but none more so than the line. No fishing line category in history compares to modern day super braids when it comes to most musky fishing applications. This is particularly true of the 80 lb. test class so popular on most musky rods today. These lures, and the physical demands of casting them for hour after hour, put immeasurable stress on a fishing line. Nothing stands up to these rigors quite like 80 lb. test super braid.
In fact, few superlatives do super line justice. The technology jump from old braided Dacron to modern day super braid is nothing short of phenomenal. Of all the tackle improvements I’ve seen over the course of my 40 year musky fishing career, none have had as much of positive impact on this sport as invention of super braids. We, as musky fishermen, went from a braided line in the 1970’s that wore out quickly, had poor knot strength and tested out at nearly 66% less strength than the braided line of the same diameter today. The key pound test was 36 lb. It rarely tested out at this level. You had to retie every ½ hour of casting and constantly check your line for wear. This is no longer the case.
Of course, this is not a revelation (using heavy gauge super braid), but anglers new to this technique of fishing “twin tens” shouldn’t even attempt casting these lures with anything else. Stick with an 80 lb. test super braid like my personal favorite Stren Sonic Braid. No other line category is even worth mentioning. Today’s category of super braids is simply awesome!
POINT AND PULL – ACHIEVING ZERO ROD DRAG
The actual position or angle of your rod during lure retrieval can have a huge bearing on fatigue, too. It is amazing how much more difficult it is to crank one of these “twin tens” with any kind of bend in the rod at all. The more you lift upwards on your rod tip, the tougher it is to crank. The added stress on your wrist, arm and hand muscles can all take their toll in short order. But this can all but be eliminated by simply dropping your rod tip to a level where it is pointing directly at the lure – creating zero rod tension.
The ultimate way to work your rod with one of these lures is to always keep zero rod tension on the lure at all times. Make the reel do all the work. Of course, add a low geared power reel like the new Abu Garcia Revo Toro Winch 60 to the outfit and lure drag drops off even more. The effort required to crank these lures drops dramatically once you achieve zero rod drag.
However, there are some tricks involved in achieving zero rod drag while still making the lure perform correctly. The trick here is in adjusting reel speed accordingly. I often refer to this as “learn to burn”. My friends call it “The Bucher Burn”. Basically speaking, this involves cranking your reel extra fast at the beginning of the retrieve. The “burn” is required in order to burst the lure upwards towards the surface at a very critical point -- at the beginning of the retrieve over the shallowest water. Personally, I might put a slight bit of upwards rod tension on my “twin ten” right after it hits the water to further increase line lift while initiating a vigorous, hard cranking reel “burn”. As soon as I see a surface bulge appear from the lure, I will usually begin dropping down on the rod tip while keeping up the “burn”. My goal is to quickly get to zero rod tension, thus relieving stress on my wrist and arm muscles. This technique has worked well for me in both keeping the lure weed free as well as triggering violent strikes.
A SHARP SUMMARY
Finally, never under estimate the importance of hook sharpening with this lure style. Extra sharp hooks are extra critical on these large in-line spinners. “Twin tens” typically come with super sized treble hooks in the 6/0, 7/0 or even 8/0 range. These extra large trebles are needed to balance the lure and provide ample hooking power with the large lure profile.
However, super sized trebles are usually very dull and need to be hand sharpened. This is especially true after a fish is caught. Couple this with the larger diameter wire associated with a larger model and you compound the problem of hook penetration on a tough jawed large fish.
All of these negatives associated with outsized trebles warrant extra attention to hook sharpening. Personally, I am obsessed with hook sharpening and check my hooks before making my first cast on any drift. I keep a high quality file in my pocket and carefully resharpen my hooks throughout the day.
So there you have it! These new giant in-line spinners are great fish catchers and really turn on big fish in shallow water. If you are planning a trip to any body of water this summer or early fall that contains big fish in shallow water, you definitely want to put one of these “twin tens” to work. Make sure to use the right tackle matchups with this lure, and you’ll get the maximum effectiveness from this entire technique. However, I still can’t totally guarantee that you won’t have to pop an Ibuprofen or two at the day’s end.