5 pro anglers (reluctantly) reveal their top-secret tactics for bass, lakers, muskies and walleye


Guide Mitch Lilley double up his tubes for big lake trout


TARGET: Lake trout

TACTIC: Drag a modified tube jig

So many lake trout have been caught on tube jigs over the years that it’s not surprising Red Deer, Alberta, guide Mitch Lilley says it’s his go-to trout bait. However, the way he rigs and presents a tube sets him apart from others who also fish tubes.

“I take a 1.5-ounce jig and slide a glow-green-and-orange hootchie-style squid body onto the hook as my first skirt,” Lilley says. “Then I’ll slide a four-inch white Power Tube over the top of the squid.” Doing that gives the bait twice as much tail action, he explains, as well as contrasting colours.


“The other piece of the puzzle is that I slowly drag it across the bottom, so that it stirs up small puffs of silt,” Lilley says. “The trout zero in on it and go crazy, especially big lake trout when the bite is the toughest.” In particular, he likes to find a 70- to 120-foot-deep trough between two sharp breaking structures—such as underwater reefs and humps—then drag the tube through it.

Lilley’s laker rig: A four-inch white Power Tube over a hootchie-style squid body (inset)

What I found most intriguing about Lilley’s bottom-plowing tube trick is that he says it’s especially deadly in lakes where pelagic open-water ciscoes are the principal forage fish. “I can’t explain why trout key so strongly on a tube being dragged through the silt when there is so much bait suspended above them,” he confesses. “It could be that bottom-dwelling burbot are also an important prey species.”

The personable prairie guide has also noticed that the biggest lake trout, typically 20-pound-plus giants, are almost always solo, shark-like stalkers. So, he relies heavily on his sonar to keep him precisely positioned and drifting slowly through the troughs. “Occasionally, as I am dragging along the bottom, I’ll pop the tube up and let it fall back down,” he says. “If I mark a trout following the lure, I’ll lay it right on the bottom for a few seconds, just feeling for weight. They’ll suck it right up.”


Like I said, it’s not just the lure—it’s also how you fish it.