I’ve heard it too many times: I didn’t feel the strike.
The standard rule for surface lures for years with regard to when to set the hook has been to wait until you feel them before setting. The reality is that every year this rule costs a lot of folks fish. I think it started in bass-world, and sadly has carried over, but regardless, a careful but common sense approach is a much better policy. Yes, pulling the trigger too soon can cost fish, as visually, the attack starts and the lure is pulled away before the fish really has it.
But muskie and pike are often high-speed attackers. What happens too with the wait to feel policy is simply that the fish are over-taking the lure from behind moving forward much faster than the lure is going and they often have it, but with forward movement there is no weight felt, and often slack is created. I’ve seen it too many times and get the response above.
During the day watch! Keep your eyes glued. Surface lures float. If you see the lure under the water (I’ve often seen this and angling to the side too) it’s time to set even if you don’t feel weight. They figure out something isn’t right pretty quick, and the opportunity is missed. At night, a different policy is needed, since you often do hear noise, yet the fish doesn’t have it. At night, set on feel, of course but if noise is heard, start reeling much faster for several revolutions if no weight, continue with regular speed and often they’ll be back.