What are some basic lures you’d recommend a beginner muskie angler should start with?
Well, you’ve asked a question that is kinda tough to answer … can be a long story, but short version is that there are 4 basic lure types: jerks, cranks, spinners and topwater (soft plastics could be considered a separate category or part-of one of the others). Of all of these, a crankbait and a bucktail spinner are the most versatile and can be effective in a number of situations.
Overall, I’d recommend the following in each category – at least this should get you started off right:
Crankbait: Here I’d say you need 2; 1 for shallow water situations (5 feet and under) and one that will reach 12 to 15 feet on a retrieve for deeper structure.
Jerkbait: Again, 2 to start with; One with an “up-down” motion like the classic Suick, and then a glider/side-to-side style.
Spinner: Obviously there’s your classic stright-line Bucktail (start with single blade in classic color pattern like black/orange and maybe a white). Could also add in a couple single-hook spinnerbaits in this category for fishing weeds.
Topwater: Once again 2 types would be good to start with; a “crawler” type for slow presentations and a prop-style for more aggressive/faster presentations.
Soft Plastic: Here it’s tough to beat a tube like the Red October tubes. Their hollow design make them easy to rig with different weights for versatility and the hollow design also makes for good hooking percentages.
I would recommend heavily that you spend plenty of time on The Next Bite Muskie/Pike Forum. There you can learn and converse with other muskie anglers on all sorts of topics to help you be a better angler.
Also, it’s really worth hiring a good guide for a trip or two. You’ll learn a ton, but also have a “free” testing ground for lures … so you can see what works and just what baits you like.