Tube baits are bass baits, right? If you agree you're partially right. Tackle designer and bass pro Bill Siemantel created Tiger Tubes to target big California largemouths. But it wasn't long before fishing innovator Spence Petros discovered that oversized tube baits take big muskies, too.
Petros tells the story of how he was teaching a seminar in Reno, Nev. when Siemantel told him of his experiments with big tubes. He had caught about 100 bass over 10 pounds by that time. Wheels turned in Petros' head when Siemantel explained the technique.
"He was using 30-pound line and 8-inch tubes," Petros said. "He was muskie fishing for bass."
A few months later Petros was on a Canadian lake in the peak of summer. A muskie hit a bucktail twice on one spot. Petros returned the next day to see if the fish was still there. It was, but Petros couldn't entice a strike. Always ready to try something new, Petros tied on a Tiger Tube. Minutes later he had landed a 49-incher.
Fluke? Hardly. Petros caught a 43-incher the next day. Of 10 muskies caught on that trip, four came on tubes.
Petros likes tubes as "throw-back baits." If he gets a rise or a follow on one lure, he quickly casts a tube back at the spot. But he says they're good locator baits, too, and they're versatile. Unlike other muskie lures that offer just one action, tubes can be fished several ways to attract fish in different moods. Let one sink about half way down, pump it and crank a turn as it falls. This keeps the leader away from the bait. Repeat the sequence back to the boat.
Tubes can also be fished at bucktail speed. Cast, reel, lift quickly, reel, lift quickly, reel and so on. A pop of the rod tip brings side-to-side action. Or you can jig below the boat. If you need to go deep, tubes can be fished more precisely than deep-diving lures. A crankbait might not spend as much time in the strike zone as it does going down and up.
Tubes also can be modified in ways other hard baits can't be. For example, you can easily add a rattle chamber.
"Do rattles help catch fish?" Petros asks. "I believe so. Does it hurt? Definitely not."
Make a tube weedless with a 5/0 hook or a Magnum extra-wide gap hook rigged Texas-style. Push the point through the top of the head. Slide the tube up over the hook eye and push the hook point through the side of the tube.
Use another bass bait to modify the tube into a topwater bait. Remove the hooks from a magnum Zara Spook, slide the tube over it and add two larger 3/0 muskie-sized treble hooks. Add a touch of glue to keep it from slipping and add a rattle chamber if you want. Use a short leader. Then go "walk the dog" on the surface. Try different colors. Fish attractant does double duty on tubes. It provides scent and keeps the plastic soft.
For tackle, use a 7- to 7-1/2 foot heavy rod, 30-pound monofilament or 30-pound Dacron or 80 -to 100-pound braided line. The leader should be 80- to 100-pound seven-strand wire.
Try a tube on lake such as Mille Lacs at this time of season. Fish shallow, 1 to 5 feet, and target reeds and rock piles. There's no skirting the issue. Big tubes catch big muskies.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.