From numerous reports this past week, people are either struggling to understand how to fish tube jigs on many of our small-to-large reservoirs around the state, or they are sending me glowing reports of their many and varied successes using tube jigs.
So, once again, allow me to share some more “secrets” to using tube jigs to catch fish in the summertime.
In general, a “tube jig” is a lure that is made of a “tube” of plastic with a “string” tail. The tail is made of plastic too but it waves in the water and really looks like a tail.
A “ball head” hook with a weight attached to the head is stuffed into the tube so that the weight is concealed. For trout, I like to tip the hook of a tube jig with a tiny piece of night crawler to add scent and increase the appeal of the presentation.
Then the lure is the thrown toward the shore or at least into the water column (right now) from 30 feet to the surface.
Most trout are still in the upper water column above the thermocline (which varies from lake to lake between 20 and 30 feet). The thermocline is the line of colder water separating warmer surface water from much colder water down deep).
Secret No. 1
Vary your presentation until you get your first few bites, then duplicate the most popular (with the fish) presentation.
Many anglers make the same casts, the same retrieves and take the same amount of time in the process. This doesn’t always work.
So make a cast, let your lure hit the bottom, keep it there for up to 30 seconds, and then begin a slow, methodic retrieve.
If that doesn’t work, cast, count to five, and then reel in a little quicker. Do you see what I mean by “vary”? Let your imagination run wild, there are no mistakes to be made.
Secret No. 2
Limit your color selection of tubes to three colors: medium green, white, and bright chartreuse.
Most fish eat crayfish, and any color of green imitates colors of crayfish in most reservoirs.
And most fish like to eat minnows. Greens and whites also mimic minnows in most reservoirs, so don’t think you have to buy every color offered in your local tackle store.
Stick to the basics and let the fish tell you which one they like on any particular day.
Secret No. 3
Size does matter.
Tube jigs come in all sizes from small, 1.5 to 2-inch lengths to monster sizes reaching 10 to 12 inches. Start with a 2.5-inch tube and then move to a 3.5-inch tube as your mainstays this time of year.
I was taught a valuable lesson years ago when fishing a tournament on Navajo Lake in Northwestern New Mexico.
I was using a 4-inch tube jig and struggled to get bites. A buddy of mine who routinely fished the reservoir suggested I downsize to a 2-inch tube.
When I did so, my whole world changed. Almost instantly, I started getting bites that eventually translated into a second-place finish in the tournament.
There are times that “matching the hatch” means matching the sizes of the forage species available to the fish you seek AT THAT MOMENT.
So if you observe small crayfish or minnows swimming near where you are fishing, take note and match the size of your tube jig to the size of the prey.
It is difficult to describe how versatile a tube jig can be in almost any reservoir of lake you fish. I have used them at 11,000 feet in the tops of the mountains and at sea level.
The key is simply spending enough time with a tube jig tied on to gain confidence that they will produce for you. Once you jump that hurdle, you will be “hooked” for life.
Good Luck and remember: Don’t stray too far from the tube.