The morning starts out with a fresh, Texas-rigged softbait. After an hour and a half, a cup of coffee, and several bass, tattered baits begin to pile up on the deck. By noon, a few more fish, sardines for brunch, and another handful of torn baits. By day’s end, you can barely find the trolling-motor pedal under all the discards. Time to find a garbage bag and tidy up. But wait — there are ways to breathe new life into old baits and catch a bunch more bass in the process.
For Gregg Meyer, tournament angler and tackle tweaker from Wilsonville, Nebraska, turning old lures into innovative fish-catching packages is nothing new. Over the last decade, his experiments have allowed him to catch lots more bass than with conventionally rigged baits. Rigging tubes, worms, and shad baits in atypical fashion, he creates unique actions bass can’t resist.
Meyer developed his methods while brainstorming ways to present lures bass aren’t accustomed to seeing, especially on heavily fished waters. “When you think about working baits backwards, sideways, anyways, rather than the usual head-on movement, you expand your presentation option many-fold,” Meyer says. “Using worn baits is a cost-effective way to experiment, because you can go through lots of them while trying to create the right action. And it’s fun to see how each variation works.”
Baits rigged with Meyer’s methods duplicate baitfish behaviors that standard riggings can’t match. “The basic rigs offer limited presentation options, the ones everyone uses. By getting creative with hook and weight placement, you can make lures act more erratically. You can better imitate feeding minnows, scooting craws, or sickly baitfish that prove highly attractive to bass. It’s a blast to demonstrate these rigs in the big tanks at sport shows — anglers are amazed at how they dance and how bass react to them.”
Just when you’d thought all the variations for rigging tubes were exhausted, Meyer came up with a new one, “backward tubin’” — it works with any size tube and is deadly for any species that craves a tube, from trout to crappies to bass.
In backward tubin’, the leadhead jig is inserted with the hook point exposed at the tube’s nose, rather than at the tentacle end. The most basic backward tubin’ rig involves inserting the hook of a ballhead jig into the tube so that it exits the nose, while the ballhead fits snugly in the tube at the tentacle end. Pop the jig eye out one side.
“It’s important that the tube seals tight around the jighead,” Meyer says. “Coating the jighead with Vaseline or a viscous fish attractant makes it easier to insert, and the tight seal locks air inside the tube. This buoyancy causes crazy action,” he says.
“If the jighead is placed too close to the nose of the tube, its action is compromised and the tube falls more normally. When you achieve the right balance, the tube circles as it falls. When it’s retrieved, it looks like a crawdad in motion. If the weight is near the back of the tube, it parachutes on the fall and flares on the pull, much like a retreating crawdad. Crawdad colors are natural,” he adds, “but don’t be afraid to experiment.”
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