Winter Blues? Use Parts & Pieces to Mod Your Tackle

Winter Blues? Use Parts & Pieces to Mod Your Tackle

Jodie Paul February 03, 2023

As we come upon the slowly waning throws of winter, for most the boredom begins to catch up and we all know what they say about “idle hands”.  So why not take some of those long winter evenings, when the darkness envelops the world by 6pm and get your creative juices flowing.  You might walk ways with a preseason masterpiece to eventually land your personal best.  Ok, maybe landing your personal best with a handcrafted lure is easier said than done, but there are many useful tools, parts, and pieces that can help you create, adapt, and upgrade the baits you already have in your musky catching stash. 

Carefully raiding your bucktail box might produce several specimens with unworkable colors, bent blades, cut hooks, or just all-around lures that have never produced a strike.  These can be your focus for the first round of upgrades.  Don’t be afraid to dive in and see what you can do with those uninteresting bucktails that have just never made the cut. 

For bucktails try some of the following:

  • Upgrade one of the blades to a different color, size, or type to change the overall action/activity
  • Tie some tinsel into an existing feather or rubber skirt to add an element of flash
  • Add a second treble hook under the skirt for better odds at hook setting
  • Upgrade the trailing hook to a larger size to increase your hook set ratio
  • Add some press on weight to produce a deeper presentation

All of these small modifications can leave you with a new and improved bucktail that might change your experience this spring.  Changing blades can add distinct vibrational patterns, while adding flash might entice a neutral eater.  It doesn’t take much to take your bucktail from zero to hero if you have a little extra time to spend in the garage.

Next you might be honing in on your hard baits: cranks, gliders, or jerks.  Maybe you have a Christmas gift or a last resort bait that you’re holding onto for no good reason at all that deserves a few upgrades to get it back in the lineup.  Hard baits can be modified for little cost and big outcome.  Grab a handful of underachievers and make some room at your work desk.

For hard baits try some of these upgrades:

  • Spray paint! Not all colors are good colors, so make a solid that works (start with black)
  • Reflective tape can add some glinty goodness to your underwater presentation
  • Add some tinsel to the trailer hook
  • Stick on lead weights can change the dynamic of your hard bait for sure
  • Change the tail presentation on your glider to a longer, fatter, thinner, or different color grub

None of these modifications require pro-level know-how, but they might now produce rocking good strikes.  Don’t be afraid to try some tinkering on your hard baits, because if they didn’t work already, you can’t really screw them up.

For rubber baits there might be less to do or you might think you’re stuck, but if you’re willing to go the distance, why not grab your least favorite and doctor it up.  When dealing in rubber, one of the most effective things you can do is change the tail.  Many rubber baits have defined differences in the body and tail color anyway, but a damaged bait or an ineffective bait only needs a few moments and some heavy heat, to change its usefulness.

Take your rubber friend, slice off that existing tail and melt on a new tail of your color and size choice.  It will definitely change the trajectory of your rubbers fall; and if you add a sparkle tail or hot color, it might get some extra under water looks.  A heat gun and an old butter knife goes a long way to repair and replace your rubber tails, so don’t be afraid to get in there and make magic happen.

If you’ve got the time, what may seem like small or insignificant changes, could turn out to be a record breaker in the musky game.   The hot bait this year might just end up being something you took the time to modify in the comfort of your own home.