Author: Chris Huskilson
I have been targeting Muskies for as long as I can remember. During the early years my typical approach was not much different from many other anglers today. I placed a great deal of emphasis on speed and flash to catch the majority of my fish. Bucktails,spinnerbaits and hard jerk baits. Very common in our Muskie tackle world, and they undoubtedly produce results on a regular basis. What else do you need, right?
I am a born and raised Kawartha’s Northumberland region native. I target just about everything that swims in this area, and in doing so, I have come across a few techniques and baits that were not intended to be used for certain species, but are extremely effective in catching them. I love to catch Smallmouth Bass. They are, in my opinion one of the most powerful freshwater fish on the planet. While targeting Smallies, I spend a good portion of my time dragging baits on the bottom. In a lot of instances the bait of choice is a tube. While a Tube has been a very effective bait for many of us while targeting Smallmouth, I catch an alarming amount of Muskies fishing them in this manner as well! So many, that it became quite clear to me that this was an approach that was not only unique, in that most were not catching Muskies this way, but extremely effective in producing numbers and quality fish!
During this period there were really no options on the market that offered a Muskie sized version of my bass tubes. Or at least I was unable to locate any manufacturers producing them. In the spring of 2011 I discovered Water Wolf Lures, an Ontario based business specializing in Muskie sized soft plastic baits. While browsing their website I found exactly what I had been looking for. A Muskie sized soft plastic tube. Ranging in sizes from 5-13”!! Needless to say I placed an order immediately as I knew the potential they had in the waters I fished.
I catch a great deal of my “Tube fish” in or adjacent to current. Water Wolf Lures also manufactures all of the necessary rigging for their baits including the perfect tube jig head for these bad boys. When fishing bottom, like I would for smallmouth, I target the same areas and bottom type when targeting Muskies with these larger profile tubes. Hard bottom is key. Hard bottom in or adjacent to current, paired with a weed line edge and deep water nearby = Muskies. Big Muskies. I will fan cast these upstream and hop them back along the bottom, much like I would power fishing a tube for smallmouth. If the fish are not right in the current, I will cast to the current edges and do the exact same thing. The results are outstanding! Not entirely unexpected however! These baits produce fish in numbers and quality, and why wouldn’t they!? Very few baits are as versatile as a tube. I can fish it fast or slow. I can hop it or slowly drag it on the bottom. I can swim it back to the boat or vertically jig it. The applications are quite literally endless. And in my opinion, this is a bait that can be fished all year round.
When fishing bottom, I Like to rig a 5-9” tube. Rigged with a tube jig head. This is the exact replica to what I use when targeting smallies. Only much, much larger! The nose of the bait is extra thick to withstand the constant pounding along the bottom. I have had great results with this rig and use it regularly. In fact it is a mainstay in my arsenal all season long. This is a much underutilized approach, and something that really produces well for me. Especially in highly pressured waters with current.
Tubes are an extremely versatile bait. Not only can they be fished on the bottom and produce exceptional results, but they can be fished in the mid to upper range of the water column as well! Anyone that flips tubes for Largemouth Bass knows the effectiveness of a lightly weighted or unweighted tube offering on those fish. Well let me tell you, the same applies to Big Tubes for Big Muskies.
I first tried this approach shortly after discovering Water Wolf Lures, and ordered a handful to give them a try. Needless to say I was a little shocked at just how effective the baits/technique really was!
I like a really big profile bait and the 11″ to 13″ Magnum Gator Tubes set up with a light casting rig are the ticket. I simply cast the bait out, and work it back to the boat much like I would a suspending jerkbait. This technique is an absolute staple in my arsenal and dominant during the colder water periods. Late fall right through until close (mid Dec). I can catch fish on these all year round but really hammer them once the water is in the 60’s and below. The bait is very buoyant and that extra hang time between jerks is a big trigger for these fish to commit. And not only do they commit, they commit several times if necessary. I have had several instances where a fish would strike, I would set the hooks and endure several violent head shakes only to have the fish throw the bait, and within a few seconds come right back and eat it again!!! I am convinced that the softness of these baits has been the reason for this. The fish eat them like nothing else I have ever used. There is rarely any hesitation and they eat with intent. Some of my biggest fish have been taken on these baits, if your not using big tubes for Muskies you are simply missing out on some of the most exciting fishing of your life. The products are available and the technique is simple yet extremely effective.
Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed ! Big Tubes=Big Muskie
ALL FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHA’S NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO. COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!!