September 09, 2016
By Ned Kehde
Northland Fishing Tackle introduced their Impulse Fatty Tube to the angling world at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show at Orlando, Florida, on Jul 12, 13, 14, and 15.
We have mentioned many times in the Midwest Finesse columns that a tube has been one of the cornerstones of Midwest finesse tactics since Guido Hibdon of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, crossed paths with the late Bobby Garland at the U.S. Open tournament at Lake Mead in 1983. That was when Garland introduced Hibdon to the Gitzit, which is the tube that Garland manufactured and used. After that, Hibdon introduced the tube to the black bass at various waterways across the Heartland, Southeast, and Northeast, as well as in Canada.
In some piscatorial circles, a tube renaissance seems to be occurring. Consequently, some Midwest finesse anglers constantly have an eye out for new tubes — especially small ones, and Northland's 2 3/4-inch Impulse Fatty Tube has caught the attention of several Midwest finesse anglers.
Like Garland's Gitzit and Hibdon's G series of tubes, the Impluse Fatty Tube is a holl0w-head tube. It is adorned with 14 two-inch tentacles that quiver, pulsate, and undulate in the water. And the folks at Northland proclaim that it is "143 percent more effective than the leading brand" of tubes.
Jeff Gustafson of Kenora, Ontario, Canada, who is noted fishing guide, tournament angler, and television show host, works for Northland Fishing Tackle. And on Aug 31, he emailed us his insights about and experience with the 2 3/4-inch Fatty Tube.
Straightaway, he said it is the best smallmouth bass tube that he has ever used, and he has wielded a lot of them. In his eyes, it possesses the best size and profile of any tube that he has seen. What's more, its salt content and texture is unparalleled. And he said the Fatty Tube's green-pumpkin hue is perfect.
In his Aug. 31 email, Gustafson said that he had been fishing with it for a week and a half. During that time. he and Scott Dingwall of Kenora used it at the International Falls Bass Championship on Aug. 25 and 26 at Rainy Lake and Rainy River to catch 10 smallmouth bass that weighed 30.95 pounds, which garnered them a fourth-place finish and $1,900 in prize money.
He wrote that he has been using small tubes for the past six years, and nowadays, he doesn't carry any 3 1/2- and four-inch tubes in his boat. He was introduced to the effectiveness of small tubes by some friends at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin several years ago. He fished with them one day, and he said: "These guys were smoking me with smaller tubes while I used regular sized tubes and grubs." Since then, Gustafson has come to the conclusion that a small tube exhibits more alluring and perhaps natural attributes than the big ones.
A friend makes the jigs that Gustafson inserts into the Fatty Tube. He uses a 3/16-ounce jig about 90 percent of the time, but if it is extremely windy, he opts for a 1/4-ounce one. The 3/16-ounce jigs sport a 1/0 Gamakatsu jig hook, and the 1/4-ounce jig has a 2/0 Gamakatsu jig hook. He has found that the 2 3/4-inch Fatty Tube affixed to one of these jigs is an ideal combo for dissecting smallmouth bass lairs in three to 12 feet of water, which is where most of the smallmouth bass spend their summers in the waterways of Northwest Ontario and Minnesota, where Gustafson spends his summers, too.
He noted that the preponderance of smallmouth bass that he catches in the Canadian waters that he fishes regularly regurgitate small crayfish, and in Gustafson eyes, the 2 3/4-inch Fatty Tube is an excellent crayfish imitator.
In addition to the Fatty Tube's ability replicate a crayfish, Gustafson says they are dandy emulators of gobies, which do a lot of darting around on the bottom.
When Gustafson retrieves the Fatty Tube, he said that he does not want a slow fall. Instead, he wants the jig to reach the bottom quickly, and then he starts hopping it back toward the boat. He said: "On Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake where I live, [I cast] to isolated boulders most of the time. When [smallmouth bass] are hanging around these boulders, we call it the 'guard the rock game', [and]they are usually easy to catch." And because it of its size and ability to firmly hook the smallmouth bass, he has found that the Fatty Tube is a great rig to employ for the guard the rock game.
In a Sept. 4 email, Gustafson elaborated in greater about how, when, where, and why he executes his casts and retrieves.
In regard to the length of his casts, he said that the length varies. When he is focusing on isolated boulders, his pitches could be as short as 20 feet. For example, at the waterways he plies in northwestern Ontario, he spends a lot of time pitching to specific locations, and therefore, his casts are not long ones. At the Great Lakes, however, the water in crystal clear, and to avoid spooking the smallmouth bass, he makes long casts to sandy spots or rocky spots.
As for the length of his retrieve and styles of retrieves, Gustafson described them as being short. One reason for that is the Canadian Shield lakes in northwestern Ontario are so littered with rocks and boulders that it is impossible to retrieve a Fatty Tube very far without it becoming snagged. Another reason is that most strikes that the Fatty Tube elicits occur as it is sinking next to the boulder or during the first five feet of the retrieve, and the reason for that is he is casting and pitching to high-percentage spots. If his retrieve doesn't inveigle a smallmouth bass within that 10-foot span, Gustafson quickly reels in the Fatty Tube and makes a pitch to the next boulder, weed edge, or sand spot.
He uses to styles of retrieves with the Fatty Tube. One is a hopping presentation, and the other one is a dragging presentation. When he employs a hopping retrieve, the hops are short and quick, ranging in length from three to five inches. He employs the dragging presentation with a tube more when he fishes for smallmouth bass on the Great Lakes than he does when he is fishing for them on the Northern Shield lakes, and that is because the Great Lakes are not as snaggy. He said: "If we have areas in northwestern Ontario with sand that aren't super snaggy, then dragging works great up here as well, but you just can't do it everywhere."
He retrieves the Fatty Tube at a relatively slow pace. Yet, he covers a lot of water with it. He accomplishes that by trying to cast or pitch to what he calls the sweet spots, which are boulders, logs, weed edge, and other objects that he can see. Then the retrieve is always the same; he lets it hit bottom, and then he either hops or drags it no more than 10 feet, and if a smallmouth bass does not engulf it, he quickly makes another pitch or cast. He noted that "a single, big, isolated boulder" is by far his sweetest sweet spot.
He uses the Fatty Tube combo on a seven-foot, three-inch G. Loomis NRX spinning rod, Shimano Stella spinning reel that is spooled with 10-pound-test Power Pro braided line and an eight-pound-test fluorocarbon leader.
At this time, it is only available in the green-pumpkin hue, but in the spring of 2017, it will be available in the Black/Blue Flake, Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin/Copper Flake, Green Pumpkin/Purple Flake, Mustard Yellow/Emerald Green Flake, Pumpkin, Smoke/Black Flake, and Watermelon/Red/Black Flake.
Anglers can purchase a bag of eight for $4.79
(1) Here is the link to Northland Fishing Tackles' website: http://www.northlandtackle.com/.
(2) Here are four links to more information about Jeff Gustafson:
www.gussyoutdoors.com; https://twitter.com/GussyOutdoors; https://www.facebook.com/gussyoutdoors; and https://www.instagram.com/gussyoutdoors/