The “Secret” Striper Plug: Musky Mania Doc

When a striper attacks a Doc the fish seems more motivated by anger than hunger

If you’ve seen a striper attack a Doc, you’ll agree that the fish seems more motivated by anger than hunger, punishing the lure with its tail and snout before engulfing it. This topwater striper plug is the culprit of some seriously violent blow-ups.

Matt looked over each shoulder, scanning the Lancaster Avenue parking lot at Villanova, before popping open the back of his truck. It was a Friday evening in the early spring, just after mid-terms, and I had no doubt that similar-looking transactions were taking place elsewhere around the campus.

“Here it is,” he said, “but seriously, you can’t tell people about this.”

Musky Mania Doc
If the lure has a fault, it’s that the large distance between the hooks gives hooked stripers leverage to twist trebles and open split rings.

In his hand was a plain-looking, bone-white lure that, to me, looked like every other walk-the-dog topwater I’d ever seen—just a bit larger.

“That’s a Zara Spook,” I said, “what’s the big deal?”

“It’s not,” he replied, shaking the lure and producing a knocking sound.

Blues can't pass up the Musky Mania Doc
The Musky Mania Doc isn’t just for stripers! Blues can’t pass up the irresistible side to side action and extra loud rattles.

That was my introduction to one of the best topwaters—and worst-kept secrets—among striper fishermen, the Musky Mania Doc.

In the decade since that parking lot plug deal, I’ve had no less than ten fellow fishermen tell me about the Doc, and everyone ended the conversation with, “but don’t tell anyone about this.” It felt like I was the only one keeping the secret.

Doc's side-to-side action
It’s the mesmerizing side-to-side action of the Doc that has walked its way into the plug bags and tackle boxes of Northeast striper fishermen.

One fisherman claimed that if word of the Doc got out, striped bass would go extinct because the lure’s wide-walking action and knocking noise fool the fish into striking even when they aren’t hungry. “They would all get caught,” he said.

He might be right. Cow stripers routinely swipe and swirl behind the lure in a voracious manner. The aggression of such large bass is a sight to behold.

The Doc is made by Musky Mania Lures, a company founded by freshwater-fishing legend Pete Maina, because he was tired of losing muskies on traditional wood lures. With a wooden lure, instead of the hooks lodging into the muskie, the muskie’s teeth would frequently lodge into the lure, making for poor hooksets. Beginning with the Burt jerkbait in 1992, Maina began designing lures out of high-impact plastic that couldn’t be penetrated by a muskie’s teeth, allowing for better hookups. Musky Mania now offers more than a dozen muskie lures, but it’s the mesmerizing side-to-side action of the Doc that has walked its way into the plug bags and tackle boxes of Northeast striper fishermen.

bent Musky Mania Doc treble hook
Big bass will go ballistic on the Doc, making tuna-grade hardware a must for landing cows—otherwise, this could be the result.

Fly-fishermen use a hookless Doc to bring stripers into fly-casting range, while surfcasters use it to prospect for bass along rocky and sandy shorelines in calm conditions. If the lure has a fault, it’s that the large distance between the hooks gives hooked stripers leverage to twist trebles and open split rings. Beefing up to tuna-grade hardware is a must for any fisherman targeting trophy stripers with the Doc—which is credited with landing innumerable 50-plus-pound stripers for fishermen from New Jersey to Massachusetts.

The Doc is available in two sizes: the original 9-inch and the 7-inch Li’l Doc. Both lures catch stripers—and presumably muskies—but the smaller version lacks the “pull-a-fish-from-nowhere” magic of the original. The Li’l Doc is thick for its size and doesn’t have the wide walk or loud knock of the Doc.

The Doc is deadly on big bass
The Doc is deadly on big bass.

The 9-inch Doc weighs around 3 ounces and casts well on surf and inshore gear—as long as there isn’t a headwind. It comes in a number of colors, all made for muskie fishermen, so most saltwater anglers stick with the bone-colored “blank.”

Truth is, the Doc’s secret has been out for years. It’s been prominently featured as a striper lure on TV shows, in national magazines, and through countless social media posts and videos. A few tackle shops sell the Doc blanks, and they are available online through Drifter Tackle. You’d be wise to grab a couple for this year’s spring run—just don’t tell anyone about it.

Related Content

Article: Topwater Tips for Backwater Stripers

Article: Topwater Plug Modifications

Video: Topwater Stripers on the Connecticut River

25 on “The “Secret” Striper Plug: Musky Mania Doc

  1. billy

    Some of us make a living with these so **** you for sharing our secret. ****** tattle-tale.

    1. Blacksurfcaster

      Umm everyone knows already buddy wasn’t a secret in the first place. Lol. You thinking it was now that’s ****** up…

    1. Bobby bucktails

      Guess your going out of business, got some docs to sell?

    2. Joe

      Remember when fishermen lied about where and when they were going or used to catch a days limit or that beast of a fish everyone envied .Now it seems you just need to subscribe to social media and for a little spare change they will hand you the numbers they saw buck catching his monster’s from the hole his dad’s dad idiscovered by chance decades ago.So in turn the day after a good bite you can be sure the whole area is flooded with hacks shoulder to shoulder on the canal running down your gunnel walls in the bay or just plain old crowding .so next time your asked just reply YOU JUST HAVE TO PUT IN THE TIME!!!

      1. Kevin osborne

        Absolutely well said. Put in your time you will become a striper destroyer. Among a canal of hacks, i love when they all srop poles stand and watch me!!! I put in my time baby!

  2. demarco

    Heard about these years ago when i first started commercial fishing bass… stopped using them after a couple seasons with virtually no results on this plug ;). Dont fall for this article, just another advertisement

  3. John

    Yeah cast horrible and arent good billy is a salesman…make a living off a plug lol

      1. Josh

        Tee hee these cast amazing on the right gear and draw the best topwater strikes I’ve ever seen.

  4. Anthony

    Bullshit, I used Zara’ s on the beach and killed the strippers

  5. Yuge Left Hand

    Nice fish! Definitely no Trump hand in the cover photo. 🙂

  6. Nick

    You guys are acting like a bunch of woman… Just get out there and fish. Oh by the way, know one should be allowed to fish commercially for stripers!!!

  7. fishman

    so does this mean I just wasted my money on a lure that doesn’t work?

  8. major

    Ever since I purchased my first Van Staal currently own 3 for diff applications including the vr50 that i truly enjoy fishing all i hear in every single striper forum related to the reels or not somehow always manages to be an argument about the dam canal….. this guy stole my spot on a 300ft wide river dredged and a huge circle Yes i have fished it many times when i lived in Falmouth MA but it was to test gear and how i liked new setups. you did not invent the game. and if your sitting on here bitching about walking the dog with a spook that has been on the market longer than anyone under 90 years old can r ember “”Zara Spook 9260 (1939–present) is a top water type fishing lure””The lure is cast out and retrieved in a “walk the dog” fashion (side to side or zigzag motion) . …… its like getting mad about a buck tail jig with a g dam piece of uncle joshs pork rind hanging off the back…..!!!!!! Wait I forgot tho you invented the 99year old technique as well. if you can glass from your vehicle. the canal is like catching a 10 pound fresh water bass in bass pro shops fish tanks and saying you used all skill to do it. I completely agree that anchor poachers are scum bags that DO NOT know how to fish whatsoever so let them have 2 good days on a hole then when the fish go deeper or come up during i guess i wont say when those same assholes will be sitting on an empty fishing spot that produced a few times and they cannot figure out why its isn”t working now. sooo my entire point of this mono log is………….. find a dam spot outside a man made loop where the fish as well as yourself . Have no chance but be gang banged on by both these chunk masters who throw a porgy down on a 6 ounce weight and call themselves the best fishermen who ever lived.or boots some assholes ego with a spook walk tho dog lure who thinks he invented the dam technique…………. we deal with the same shit with the hole poaching on spots that take a whole lot longer to find and establish a few miles our of a break water and in open rip current then when you show up on your numbers and have some asshole fishing tube and worm anchored up on your spot by all means let it out but when its a fellow fisherman fighting for space that is not a secret to anyone just out dish them i know when i have a spook on my line the guy on the side of me could have the same bait and i am confident in my ability to work the lure that I’d still put my money on reviving the strike. it would be nice to see some of you canal warriors get out of your man made river and come visit us off the coast of the Vineyard Cuddy hunk or no mans or hens and chickens or just a spot that you cannot within feet practically cast completely across to the other side do not claim as being the fishing guru of the modern age and slam a 50 plus ponder or run into a 35 pound plus school of stripers a quarter mile wide of just out in open ocean then talk. you guys sit her day in and day out WITH THE EXCEPTION OF A FEW REAL GUYS I HAVE SEEN ON HERE AND THIS opinion spree i’ve repeatedly witnessed and i finally felt compelled to lay it out and just for the record i am not a canal hater by any means it is a beautiful spot just not a spot i would claim i lured moby dick up from the depths and caught him with my striking van staal and my new fishing technique i think i will call spook.

  9. Canada Dave

    I am a Canadian Muskie Hunter that moved to Cape area no secret to me I have used my large Muskie plugs and slammed fish casting and trolling

    The action of vibration sends a specific vibration frequency that generate a strike from below just like how a Muskie hits

    Buy and use all Muskie plugs for success

    Try the cow Bell double and single 10 inch

  10. NoFish

    Have never caught a fish on the Little Docs, maybe it’s me but…caught plenty of fish on walking the dog type lures.

  11. J

    Change the trebles out for inline single owners or VMC hooks. then crimp the barbs if you are a true sportsman. Quit tearing up our fish with dual barbed trebles hooks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *