By Nick Simonson
The heat of August means active fish, and muskies are on the move as summer transitions to fall. One of the most popular baits to be flung after the fish of 10,000 casts is a large in-line flashabou spinner of 10 to 12 inches in length with big double blades in size 8, 10 or 12. The thump of the front end disrupts the water and adds life to the flashy material which makes up the skirt. Being able to customize baits to a water or provide a look that’s a bit different that what’s on store shelves gives do-it-yourselfers the advantage in the quest for these notoriously picky fish.
There are two principal parts to a super-sized spinner: the pounding blades in front and the pulsating skirt on the business end and it is the profile of the spinner’s skirt that makes big fish commit after the thump of the blades has lured them in. To make a strike-inducing skirt on a mondo muskie spinner, you’ll need one package (20 inches) of magnum flashabou, two 3/4-inch coils cut from a lawnmower throttle cable along with some Size A nylon tying thread and some head cement (Figure 1).
The magnum flashabou, thread and head cement are available through Rollie and Helen’s Muskie Shop (www.muskyshop.com) or Lure Parts Online (www.lurepartsonline.com) and the throttle cable can be found at your local hardware store for about a dollar per foot. We’ll be tying a full skirt and a partial skirt, which when combined on the spinner shaft will provide for some amazing action on the retrieve.
To make the skirts, you will need to extend your tying vise by taking a scrap piece of .051” diameter spinner shaft and forming a 90-degree bend on one end using needle nose pliers. Thread the cable coil on the shaft and lock it firmly in the vise so the cable coil sits snugly between the vise and the bend and does not move. From there, you can begin wrapping the tying thread on the coil to form a foundation, cementing liberally (Figure 2).
Cut the hank of magnum flashabou in half so there is a pile of strands approximately 10-inches in length on the table in front of you. Divide the strands into two separate piles, one consisting of two-thirds of the total strands and the other consisting of the remaining third (Figure 3). For the primary skirt, we will be working with the larger pile of flashabou.
Form the primary skirt by evenly distributing the flashabou strands around the coil and tying them in at their midpoint (Figure 4). The strands should lay flat against the coil and the tie-in point should be centered on it. After every couple of sections, apply some head cement to the tie-in area and allow it to set for a minute or so. Tie the strands evenly in sections that overlap so that none of the coil is showing and the skirt is full in all areas. When done tying in the flashabou, make several half hitches over the tie-in point and cement the area thoroughly. Allow the cement to harden and apply some more, letting the second coating set on your finished skirt (Figure 5).
To make the partial skirt, cut the strands of the smaller pile of flashabou in half, so you have a group of strands approximately five inches in length (Figure 6). Remove the first coil from the vise and replace it with the second coil. Form a thread base on the coil and cement it for posterity. Tie the five-inch strands of flashabou onto the coil by their bases, so the bulk of each strand hangs to the left of the coil. Again, be sure to tie these strands in evenly for a full-looking skirt and apply cement after every couple of sections. Once completed, make a few half hitches or whip finish at the tie-in point and cement it thoroughly as you did with the primary skirt (Figure 7).
Once the cement is dry, you should have two skirts – the primary and the partial (Figure 8). Placed together on the spinner shaft, they will form a bulky-looking body, but because they are so light and easily moved by turbulence in the water, they will provide pulsating and life-like motion sure to trigger the wariest fish.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll put the skirts together with the rest of the spinner components for a homemade lure with a customized edge to turn the heads of hungry muskies in the heart of summer and the start of fall.
(Featured Photo: A 10-inch flashabou in-line spinner with size 10 or 12 blades is a standard late-summer big bait offering for muskies. Simonson Photo)