I spend a lot of my time out on Lake Murray in Oklahoma during the summer. This time of the year, when the fish are suspended out away from the bank, I like to do something a little different to get bit that has proven itself time and time again.
The “normal” thing to do is to throw a topwater or work a swimbait through schooling fish. However, I prefer using a tube on a 1/8-ounce jig head to cast at those schoolers.
I’ve probably won near 100 tournaments on Lake Murray using a tube with a jig head like that, and I’ve caught largemouth and smallmouth with it. Every time I put it on this time of the year, it seems to get me bit. I like a watermelon-colored tube for this just because that seems to work the best for me.
I use straight 8-pound fluorocarbon, not braid to fluoro. I want that line to sink with the bait so I need all fluorocarbon in this situation.
That line is important, but it’s also important to choose the right rod. A baitcaster or a spinning rod doesn’t necessarily matter in this case. What matters more is how far you can cast with that particular rod. Long casts are going to be key.
Another important characteristic is the stiffness of the rod you’re using. You have to make sure your rod isn’t too stiff. A softer rod is key for this because you’re not going to set the hook on these fish, you just need to keep reeling it in. If one misses it on the fall, I promise you another one will be shortly behind it. Keep in mind that 99 percent of these bites are going to be on the fall.
When you’re casting, make sure to let it fall for a second before you start reeling it back in in order to let the bait fall through those small baitfish. Be sure to use your electronics (I use Garmin Panoptix LiveScope) to locate those fish and see how deep they are suspending.
If you don’t have electronics on board, no worries. Be on the lookout for any fish blowing up at the surface. If you see one, you have your target.
Once again, make sure that you’re using a long cast and not setting the hook. That jerking of the bait can scatter the school. Just keep your eyes peeled for the occasional blow up and look out for the bait fish.
I’m about to fish Lake Erie next week for the final FLW Super Tournament of the season, and I’m prepared for smallmouth. If those fish are suspended chasing bait, then you better believe I’m going to put on a tube with an 1/8-ounce jig head to try and get them. I’ve had too much success with it over the years to not give it a shot.