Under My Seat: A Musky Guides' Guide to What You Need
Whether you use a butt seat while fishing or you just stand on the deck, all musky anglers keep a wide variety of tools and lures in a "quick reference" area on their boats. Many anglers choose to use a specific locker or crate on the boat that holds all of the items you want close by, but other guys have learned that on of the most efficient ways to keep your most beloved gear nearby is by using an underseat caddy.
There are several favorites in the underseat variety with two main pro versions that we carry at the Musky Shop. The first, Lakewood Pedestal Pal.
This box is a unique soft sided box with pouches on the exterior for tools of your choosing and an interior designed for lure storage. It is lightweight and easy to take on and off the boat for quick organization and cleanup at the end of a trip.
Another fantastic option is the Reck N Rack Under Boss.
The Under Boss brings a more permanent solution to under-casting seat storage. This box has a tension screw that fits it snuggly to your seat post with a hard sided tool organizer and hook hanging slots. Either set-up is perfect if you want to keep your quick access tools and all time favorite lures at arms reach.
If you don't have the cash to get one of these more permanent options or you don't find yourself on the water enough to invest, I've seen many crafty anglers wrap a tool belt around a 5 gallon bucket and it easily performs the same task. It's all about finding something that works for your boat and needs.
Once we've got the storage under control it's time to fill it up with the essentials. The number one tool required by all musky fishermen is a hook cutter. Musky Shop carries a variety of hook cutters and recommends you not leave the ramp without them. As musky have a hard bone jawline, it is sometimes difficult and stressful to a fish trying to dig out a hook when you can cut quickly and remove the bait. Catch and Release has become such a part of our community that it's important to give muskies the best chance of survival and that means quickly getting lodged baits out and sometimes you will loose some hooks.
A couple of other tools in this genre, highly recommended by professional musky guides are long nose pliers or hook removal tools and jaw spreaders. When you're dealing with a lot of teeth and a lodged treble, jaw spreaders come in extra handy to make sure you can work comfortably and avoid cuts. Long nose pliers or hook removal tools can be handy to get deep once the jaw spreaders are in place. These tools make releasing these toothy critters much more painless for the anglers and the fish!
So we've covered the release tools, but other tools we like to look out for under our seat are more geared toward repair. Most musky guides keep and assortment of quick repair/mod tools in their under-seat kit to keep all of their baits and reels in tip top condition. First, you want to make sure you have an excellent hook file. No matter which type or brand you use, it is always important to make sure those hooks are extra sharp to prevent losing a musky!
Other tools include a torch lighter for rubber repairs and shrink tube, both philips and flathead screwdrivers for reel repairs and weight mods, mini can of WD40 for tools and reels and for many guides a type of pick to help their clients with back-lashed reels.
All of these items I find to be essential to make sure a day runs smoothly so everything can be maintained as well. Also, it never hurts to have multiple backups in case of failure. Many guides run into broken tools as well as damaged gear, so a couple extra pliers, and tools never hurts.
Tools being covered, leaves the rest of the box for quick grab lures. It is always important to cover the basic bite for your day on the water. Many times you might find that the bite follows a size pattern so you might want a large array of colors for a specific size of bait. For example, if I'm having a lot of luck on downsized cranks, I want an array of colors to narrow that down further. Once we've found a working size pattern or lure pattern, you always want duplicates.
Best example might be rubber. If you are having a great bite on Walleye Spring Dawgs, the best idea would be to load your quick access storage with backups as rubber tears easily with each strike. In the event of a flurry of activity, we don't ever want to be wasting time by repairing one lure when we've brought a backup. That being said, unless you've nailed the bite, give yourself a range of depths and sizes until you have an approximation. For example, once you have the size class or depth nailed down, you can really experiment with many variations and change baits quickly if you have them within arms length. A follow in on a 10" Slammer Deep Crank might be a netted fish when you throw back a 4" Slammer Deep Crank. Keep these types of forecasts in mind when planning that quick access box.
So there you have it. The best ideas from the people on the water the most. These are the must haves under your seat. Of course you might have a few tweeks yourself based on your own personal fishing routine, but these tools will help you to plan a tidy and useful underseat storage caddy.