Great Eights

Boatside tactics from Gregg Thomas

SEAN OSTRUSZKA, Social Media Liaison

It’s the most pressure-packed moment in our sport.

You’ve been casting all day. Your muscles are sore and your mind is drifting off, when out of nowhere comes a hot fish right behind your lure. This is the opportunity to turn the day into a success; to make all the effort worth it. All it takes is a good figure eight and you’re golden.

Problem is, it’s not always that simple. Ask guide Gregg Thomas of Battle The Beast Guide Service and he’ll tell you he has seen plenty of fish blown at the side of the boat in the figure eight over the years. There are simply so many things that can go wrong, and they’re all packed into a five to 30-second window.

Still, there are two mistakes he sees his clients make more routinely than others.

“They either slow down the lure or they don’t make their turns large enough,” Thomas said.

Let’s address the first one. The figure eight is all about a smooth transition from reeling to eighting, and the shock of seeing a musky show up right behind the lure can often stun an angler to make this transition not as seemless as it needs to be, slowing down the lure in the process. While that may not be that big of a thing for a lazy follow, it’s a definite turnoff for a hot fish. After all, bait rarely slows down when being chased by a predator.

Along those same lines, Thomas often also sees clients who perform the figure eight too slow.

“You want to actually speed up the lure in the figure eight, especially in the turns,” Thomas said. “Then just as you’re bringing the lure out of the turn, you want to give it just a little pause. Not stop it, but just a second of slowing it down before speeding back up. That’s where you’ll get the bulk of your hits.”

Speaking of turns leads us to the second mistake. When making a turn with the lure in the figure eight, you want to make as wide a turn as possible. Muskies, as great of predators as they are, can’t simply turn around on a dime, especially a larger fish. So making a turn that is too small or narrow will take the lure completely away from the fish, causing it to lose it while it takes longer to turn around. This is often when the fish will lose interest and swim off.

There are other things you can do to increase the appeal of your figure eights, such as moving the lure up and down in the water column during them, but unless you get the basics out of the way it’s hard to make improvements.

For more information on Gregg Thomas and Battle the Beast Guide Service, visit

Jim Saric

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