For anyone who ice fishes for trout, if it isn’t already in your tackle bag, one thing you must have are white tube jigs. They are an absolutely dynamite bait for winter trout, and something that just about all trout can’t resist. They are one of my go to baits for lake trout, stocked rainbows and splake, and even slightly smaller tubes for whitefish. Here are a couple quick tips to make your tube jigs even more effective.
When jigging, I’ll often jig with a bare tube, and don’t really feel a minnow is always necessary. If fish are being finicky, and I’m seeing fish on the flasher that won’t bite, it’s time to add a minnow, making your offering even more enticing (where live bait is allowed).
I find that a minnow hooked outside the tube affects the action, and you’re more likely to lose your bait. To remedy this, after you’ve rigged your tube up and tied it on, hook a minnow through the top of the head, take hold of the bottom of the tube jig body, and pull it out and over the hook point, hooking the bottom of the tube body on the hook, covering the minnow. This will keep the minnow securely on your hook, tucked inside the tube jig, with the body and tail of the minnow dangling out, and won’t adversely affect your action. This can be a bit more difficult with some narrow tubes, or wide gap jigheads, but usually works out well.
Another good addition to winter tube jigs, is adding a stinger hook. You can clip on commercial stingers, or rig them up yourself at home. I rig up a handful of tube jigs with stingers at the beginning of the season to use throughout the winter. I’ll take 10 or 12# mono, and tie a length to the eye of a tube jig head, and then tie a small treble hook, just the right length to match my tube jigs (you want the stingers dangling just inside the tube jig skirt). Tie the hook on, then slip your tube jig head inside the tube jig, push the eye through and you’re ready to go.
One last tube jig tip, is when fishing it with a flasher. When you drop your tube jig down, and start jigging, small air bubbles will escape from the tube, creating some interference on your flasher. While it won’t last long, I don’t like missing anything, especially on the first drop, as lake trout will often meet your tube as its spiraling down if they’re nearby. Having a cloud of bubbles slowly fading away can be a real pain if there’s a big red mark on your screen. To avoid this, drop your tube a couple feet below the ice, give it a couple quick snaps, and you’ll see the air bubbles escape, and then send it down to the depths.
For tube options, I use any variety of white tube jibs, from 2.5-3.5” tubes. I like smaller 2.5” tubes for whitefish and stocked trout, and the bigger 3-3.5” tubes for lakers. I use pure white tubes, red/white, blue/white, silver/white… again, anything with white, trout will eat.