Keep a Sharpie in Your Boat to Make Lure Modifications That Work


My friend Devo once had a bad season of musky fishing along with our friend Mike. Both of them decided drastic action was needed so Mike washed every one of his lures in the dishwasher because he had decided that there was gas, oil, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, or some other scent that is a massive turn off to fish on his baits. It couldn’t be him….. Devo took another approach; the first time I fished with him the following year he had taken a sharpie and drawn black stripes on every bait he owned. Both Devo and Mike had banner years.

I am not sure about the dishwasher approach to solving the no-muskie problem but I am sure about the stripes as I have seen many anglers achieve success with this simple fix and I have my own stories of how stripes helped lures that couldn’t do It on their own achieve greatness.

I once had a parrot coloured top raider that was incapable of catching a fish. I had recently modified the bait by adding four black stripes to the side of the bait. While filming with Colin McKeown for The New Flyfisher I had the not-so-brilliant idea of stirring up fish with a top water bait so they would eat Colin’s fly. If you offer a musky a choice between two meals it will almost always take the larger offering and so you can guess what the musky chose to eat between the big fly and the raider.

Modified Parrot Top Raider 50

That top raider went on to catch four 50+ inch muskies over the next couple of seasons. Was it the Sharpie stripes? Probably. Having confidence in what you are throwing makes a huge difference in what you catch as well. Big PMA (positive musky attitude) plays a role too so believing what your throwing will catch a fish is a must.

Why do modifications work? Because muskies settle into a home range for the summer months and spend much of their time in the same area. They see a lot of lures go by them during this time period. Some of them they have been caught on before and the smart ones now know to avoid them. Small changes in appearance or design can make a bait look like something new and different to a musky. Jerk baits work especially well in summer because they have a different action every cast and every angler uses them differently.

Why a black Sharpie? In the old days they used to say you can use any colour you want to fish for muskies as long as it’s black. Black lures don’t give a fish a good look at what they are hitting. They just know it’s alive because of the way it moves. Black stripes create the ultimate contrast with lighter colours. I have some baits that I just coloured all black and they work way better.

Other simple modifications that work include adding prism tape to a lure which can be done in seconds as well. If you haven’t watched Muskies on the Shield by Dick Pearson you should for many reasons but there is a striking scene in this video where Dick takes applies a piece of prism tape to a Bobbie Bait and it becomes magical. The key is contrast which a fish seems to be able to see more easily or at least they bite it more frequently. Ever notice how many lures have naturally occurring contrasts of stripes and dots? Nuff said.
If your lure sucks turn it into a jailbird and hold on!

peace out,


John M. Anderson
We produce BIG fish!!

be good, do good, live well

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