March 1st, 2015
A Lake Trout Tube That Exudes Confidenceby JP Bushey March 27, 2013
Tubes have always been a valuable bait for me through the ice. I’ve used almost every brand available at one time or another, and enjoyed success with most of them. The hot tube can change from day to day, month to month and sometimes, even year to year. Profile, size, colour and scent are all variables lake trout seem to lock onto. They’re a schooling fish that remains highly active all winter. Multiple-fish outings are the norm. Presentation trends are pretty easy to identify when you’re getting so much feedback from the fish. The most productive lures, depths and jigging patterns quickly begin to stand out.
For many seasons now, and this season in particular, Mister Twister’s 3.5 inch line of Exude tubes continue to be right up there. Not only among all other tube styles and brands, but among all jigging lures in general. Classic, all-white will always be a popular colour, but don’t stop there. Freshwater shrimp, insect larvae and a host of drab-coloured baitfish like sculpin, darters, perch and gobies all make up a big part of a lake trout’s winter diet. Smoke or ‘pumpkin’ shades imitate a lot of this food very well and are really solid colours, too. They’re definitely under-used.
Right out of the pouch, Exude tubes are supple and feel almost slimy. Biodegradable materials and heavy, natural scent are impregnated right in. The scent is potent and lasts indefinitely. They’re pretty durable, too. I’ve got one with over sixty fish on it so far this winter. It’s tattered and chewed, but still rigged on a rod and still catching fish. And it still smells as bad as the first morning I rigged it up. Speaking of rigging, all that scent and the extra soft material lets jigs of any size slip right in. No bunching, no tearing. That’s a big plus in cold weather. They’re fast and easy to rig.
Along with the scent and flavour, the Exude profile is also worth noting. These tubes are thin, subtle and basically uniform in shape from the nose to the tip of the tentacles. The body chamber doesn’t taper ahead of the skirt, and the skirt is actually fairly understated. More bulbous, bass-style tubes with flared, wild skirts definitely take a lot of lake trout at times, too. But the Exude has a subtle, slim shape that’s very unique. I think it looks a lot like a smelt or emerald shiner. Rigged up lightly, you’ll get a beautiful, slow spiral. Hung motionless, they come alive just as well. I get at least half of my fish on tubes without even jigging them. Trout either rise up and suck them in way off bottom, or intercept them on their descent from the hole.
Whether lakers are actively snapping or more passive, this tube seems to be equally effective. That’s a pretty rare claim, and one not many lures can make. Right now, it’s late March and fish are gorge-feeding on large smelts and juvenile herring from five to over ten inches long. Even though there’s some pretty heavy eating going on, fish are focused on primo forage that’s in great abundance and can ingest lots of calories and food energy during very brief windows with little effort. The result seems to be quick flurries of all-out feeding followed by periods when a lot more coaxing is needed. Good presentation is critical. They’re well-fed and lazy, particularly at off-peak times of day or during unfavourable weather and lunar conditions. Exude tubes have all the right characteristics in these scenarios. Lake trout will won’t hesitate to eat them when the fishing’s hot and there’s a lot of bait under you, and they’re a deadly, deadly ‘clean-up batter’ whenever we mark fish that won’t hit other lures after things slow down. Calling fish over with spoons and then picking them off with a tube is a really productive strategy. Inside a portable fish shelter with a buddy or two, this can be some of the most fun you’ll have ice fishing. Any fish we pick up on the graph that hesitate or won’t commit get an Exude dumped on them. That unassuming, delicate action and powerful scent has a very high conversion ratio. The response they generate can be amazing some days. For me, lighter jig weights maximize the overall package. 1/8 ounce is perfect. And for quick, gentle releases, nothing beats a single jig hook.
There’s all sorts of tubes available these days and again, every dog has its day. Lots of brands and styles are effective. I’ve got plastic storage tubes filled with them. The Mister Twister Exude is one of my all-time confidence baits, and the clear-cut winner this winter. They’re from a Canadian outfit, too. That’s a nice little bonus, if you ask me. The hot tube might well have changed yet again by the time the lakes freeze in 2014, but I can already tell you which one I’ll be sending down first.
JP Bushey is a multi-species, multi-season fisherman living in Barrie, Ontario. North-Central Ontario’s ‘big water’ is where he spends most of his time, from his home waters of Georgian Bay to The Great Lakes, Lake Nipissing and The French River. JP’s been a freelance fishing contributor for over fifteen years, and enjoys helping people to improve their fishing through his articles, speaking engagements and on-the-water instruction.
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JP Bushey is a multi-species, multi-season fisherman living in Barrie, Ontario. North-Central Ontario’s ‘big water’ is where he spends most of his time, from his home waters of Georgian Bay to The Great Lakes, Lake Nipissing and The French River. JP’s been a freelance fishing contributor for over fifteen years, and enjoys helping people to improve their fishing through his articles, speaking engagements and on-the-water instruction.More by JP Bushey