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One of them could be Daryl Hannah’s earring from the remake of Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. Instead, these gaudy bucktails are the hottest muskie lure going. “They’re flashy, but they’re not a flash in the pan,” says Jay Esse of Rollie & Helen’s “World’s Largest” Musky Shop (muskyshop.com) in Minocqua, Wis. “They’re proven big-fish baits.” A pair of No. 10 blades form the basis of the lure. When retrieved, they vibrate through the water, creating a vacuum behind them. This imparts a lifelike motion to the tail, triggering a big fish to attack. Here’s how to make them work for you:

1. The Baits The 10-inch, 3/8-ounce Double Cowgirl is the bait that started it all, and it’s still a bestseller. But other large bucktails, like the Llungen DC-10 and Shumway Giant Flasher, are solid producers. “No one color stands out,” Esse says. “Match the hue to the water conditions: black in turbid water, bright colors in stained, and silver in clear, for example.”

** 2.The Tackle** “A long rod is key for casting and controlling these big baits,” Esse says. Go with an 8- to 8 1/2-foot, heavy-power, fast-action model, like St. Croix’s new PM86XHF, and a large, low-speed levelwind like the Abu Garcia 7000. “This type of reel makes for easy cranking with plenty of power, and the big spool gives you a good rate of retrieve.” Load it with 80-pound Cortland Spectron or Spiderwire Stealth.

3.The Presentation Late in the summer, head out at night and crawl the baits over structure that’s 5 to 10 feet deep, such as rock bars. Run the lure just fast enough to cause the blades to spin.

Plunge the tip of your rod into the water and make a figure eight at the end of each retrieve when the lure is about 3 feet from the boat. “For some reason, these lures really turn followers into biters at the boat. If a muskie is following your lure all the way back without striking, work the figure eight for 30 seconds or more. There’s a great chance he’ll clobber it.”

GEAR TIP: Musky Mayhem Tackle Double Cowgirl

$24-$27; muskymayhemtackle.com

The Double Cowgirl packs a punch and carries a hefty price, but no one can question its productivity. Esse estimates that anglers using this lure caught almost 300 50-plus-inch muskies in 2007. The flashabou skirting gives it great action, and the two 7/0 Mustad hooks improve your chances of hooking up.
–D.H.

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