Big Tube Baits For Pike and Muskie

Big Tube Baits For Pike and Muskie

The parade for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants was miles long. Nice. But the parade that rattles, flashes, and thumps past muskies every summer is even longer.

No hot dogs. Just car parts, Cow Girls, and Frankenthings. Pressured muskies may find the parade a bit tedious, long, noisy, and bright. Not that traditional methods and lures won't catch big muskies, but the strike- per-hour ratio seems to decline for aggressive presentations and increase for subtle options on classic spots in famous lakes.


Big tube baits, that shape-shifting chameleon of plastic baits, leads the anti-parade. Hold the trombones. Softer, easier to cast, quieter, less back pain — it's a gentler world, this. Tubes suggest changes in terminal tackle, rods, and tactics. Tubes can do some of the things traditional lures do, but better, due to an irresistible finishing touch: Unforced movement. Tentacles and soft sides move independently when no action is applied.



Continued after gallery...



Tubes In Lakes

Muskies in natural lakes spend a lot of time between late spring and midsummer on deep weedlines. Tubes are naturals around weeds, fishing them as you would jigs. Cast along deep weededges, dropping and lifting. It's an erratic thing. It doesn't just rise and fall, it spirals, glides, and undulates. Try it on rockbars and wood, too.

Tubes can be fished like jerkbaits, too, retrieved with downward pulls of the rod. They combine the good characteristics of a jerkbait but with the subtle movement of soft plastic.

Longer rods give you more snap on the lift, and more control when you swim the tube. Match an 8- to 9-footer with 80-pound braid and an 80-pound fluorocarbon leader.

Editor of Musky Hunter magazine Jim Saric admits he had a limited view of tubes when they first arrived in sizes for muskie. "I considered them a throw-back bait for fish that followed other lures but wouldn't bite," he says. "But they've become one of my hottest baits.

"Hang time makes tubes easier to work than jerkbaits," he adds. "On timber flats, shallow rocks, and weedlines tubes are versatile in various situations and they're hard for muskies to refuse."

Tubin' Rivers

Mark Arena of Red October Baits likes to vertically jig muskies in big rivers like the St. Lawrence, Detroit, and Niagara. His company was founded on building and rigging tubes for toothy critters.

"Fish are forced toward the bottom in big rivers," he says. "That's where the current slows. You have to maintain contact with the bottom or be in close proximity to it. You can get away with 1½-ounce heads in shallow water, but sometimes you need at least 4 ounces to get down where the fish are. You have to match the jig to current speed and depth. We catch a lot of muskies in runs, necks, and pools 20 to 25 feet deep.

"Most of the time, subtle action triggers the most strikes. Some days we increase the weight to add action, so it falls and spirals faster. Make more pronounced jigging motions, jerking the tube 4 or 5 feet off bottom. Other times just drag and swim it. Let weather, water conditions, and muskies indicate what's right."

In rivers, Arena keeps the boat perpendicular to shore, while drifting. With sonar, he finds deep runs with complex bottom structure. He runs upstream and drifts with the current, using the trolling motor to keep the boat broadside to the current. Cast upstream, then give slack to allow the tube to reach bottom. Then begin a slow, lift-drop retrieve while maintaining bottom contact. It takes a while to get the tube back to the boat.

Small-river muskie anglers across the Midwest and Mid-South fish from the bank or use small boats on the many productive waters there. What could be easier to tote than soft plastics? In slower, shallower reaches, light jigs suffice, while the allure of the bait's the same. Walking-the-dog with a tube can be rabidly effective all summer.

The "walk" isn't predictable, however. A tube might go left twice, then right, and so on. A properly weighted tube, though, dances side-to-side with a short stroke-and-glide cadence. Use a 7-foot rod, hold the tip a couple feet above the water's surface and stroke downward.

In fall, the soft turn-and-glide of a lightly weighted tube attracts big fish. Versatile, effective, and easy to fish. What's not to like?

*In-Fisherman Field Editor Matt Straw lives in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with homemade chips and tartar sauce. Fish Recipes

Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with...

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall. Bass

Using Crankbaits For Smallmouth Bass

Matt Straw - January 31, 2016

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall.

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures. Walleye

The Lowdown on Walleye Hardbaits

Steve Ryan - May 28, 2019

The range of walleye hardbaits encompasses multiple categories and a dizzying number of lures.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Room Full of New Gear from L.L. Bean

Room Full of New Gear from L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean's Jeff Miller shares a room-full of new gear for 2020 with Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

Secrets to Busting Big Fish

Secrets to Busting Big Fish

The In-Fisherman staff tackles super-tough customers, trolling up 50-inch muskies!

What

What's New from Cummings Nets?

There's more than meets the eye with new Cummings Nets Red Line. Find out what. With Mike Powell of Cummings and Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is simply a matter of putting a good bait in the right in front of them. Catfish

The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman - January 11, 2018

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a powerplant that best fits your personal needs and preferences. Boats & Motors

2- Vs. 4-Cycle Outboard Motors

Dan Johnson - April 16, 2018

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a...

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Stories

More Baits

 Professional angler Brian Brosdahl hefts a nice walleye that fell for a jig-spinner.

It's Baits

Spice It Up With Jig Spinners

Cory Schmidt - March 10, 2015

Professional angler Brian Brosdahl hefts a nice walleye that fell for a jig-spinner. It's

When we were working on a gear guide about Northland Fishing Tackle's new IMPULSE Core Swimbait Baits

Northland's IMPULSE Smelt Minnow

Ned Kehde - March 12, 2017

When we were working on a gear guide about Northland Fishing Tackle's new IMPULSE Core...

This new buzz bait is going to catch some bigguns. Baits

New BOOYAH Squelcher Buzz Bait

In-Fisherman Online Staff - July 12, 2018

This new buzz bait is going to catch some bigguns.

See More Baits

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×