Effective live bait fishing systems present minnows, leeches or nightcrawlers in their most natural form, and excel when you’re chasing finicky fish that are leery of anything out of the ordinary.

Of all the necessary gear, the rod is one of your most critical components.

A good live bait rod allows you to feel the fish before the fish feels you, and 13 Fishing’s 7½-foot, medium-light Muse Gold MGS76ML is a perfect example of how it works. The sensitive graphite blank quickly transmits vibrations from rodtip to fingertips, so you feel bites fast. Plus, there’s enough flex in the tip so fish don’t feel resistance and spit the bait before you can set the hook.

Cheap rods flex all over so you can’t feel anything. The Muse Gold bends but also tells you what’s happening at the business end of the line.

The rod also features Kigan 3D ZG guides with SIC inserts, so line flows freely when you release it to let biting fish take the bait. Plus, the handle has just the right blend of premium cork and EVA foam, strategically placed so the cork meets your hand while the foam is comfortable on your forearm when you tuck the butt under your arm to fight a fish.

The MGS76ML is ideal with superbraid and rated for 1/8- to 5/8-ounce lures or sinkers. 13 Fishing also makes a 7-foot, 2-inch Muse Gold (MGS72ML), which is loaded with the same features but a bit shorter and better suited to monofilament.

Give both of these Muse Golds a hard look the next time you’re in the market for a rod that will take your live bait fishing to the next level.

Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, an outdoor sports marketing and communications company. For more information look to www.fishingthewildside.net