If you’ve paid any attention to the progression of ice baits for lake trout, pike, and outsized walleyes, you’ve noticed that there’s a trend toward fishing big tubes for more and bigger fish.
Especially with behemoth lake trout, anglers often choose tubes over spoons, blade baits, rattle baits, and even meat to chase their quarry, whether we’re talking laker factory Fort Peck, the Great Lakes, high-altitude waters, smaller stocked-trout lakes, or the pristine ice of Canadian provinces. Why? They just flat-out catch fish and ideally mimic the big three of the lake trout forage base: ciscoes, smelt and whitefish.
To learn more about Northland’s new Level-Head Predator Tubes we picked the trout-addled brain of Duluth, Minnesota-based Northland pro staffer, Superior Angling TV host, and guide, Grant Sorenson. When it comes to catching big lakers through the ice, Sorenson is the man.
SUPER GLO CHARTREUSE
LUMI GLOW/RED TOP
“I fished the snot out of the new Northland Level-Head Predator Tubes last winter. We caught some impressive fish on them. I prefer a tube over any other lake trout bait, period. They’re dense and stay around the hole and you can see them on your electronics better. They also work better in current,” states Sorenson.
“Especially on a couple lakes in northern Ontario that are known for some really, really big fish, we put the tubes through the paces. For the most part, the 1- and 1 ½-ounce baits are mainstays. My favorite thing about them is summed up in the name ‘Level-Head’. They hang more horizontally than other lake trout tubes, so when you jig them, they dart. You can dance the Level-Head Predator Tube around and then fish it vertically to get lakers to commit—and like I said, you can watch it all on your electronics.”
The Best Tube Hooks
Another things Sorenson says separates the Level-Head Predator Tube is the hook quality.
“Northland really outdid themselves with the hooks. We’re fishing big fish and these trout have super hard mouths. If you set on a 20- to 40-pound fish with a hook that bends things aren’t going to go well. You need something with a strong, stout hook and Northland’s definitely got ‘em. Fishing a 42- to 44-inch heavy-power rod and really setting the hook hard – you need that. To have that confidence and trust in the hook to not bend is a big deal.”
Sorenson continues: “They also come pre-rigged with a stinger hook, and I’m particular about that. It’s connected with a coated cable that’s strong, crimped properly, and it doesn’t kink. It’s not obtrusive to the bait and doesn’t get tangled. The blood red stinger hook adds some attraction, too. And it’s all pre-rigged—no hours spent at night rigging tubes with various components, plastics, and lead, wondering if you’re doing it right.”
Level-Head Color Choices
With regards to colors, Northland offers the Level-Head Predator Tube in four colors: White/Chartreuse, Super Glo Chartreuse, Lumi Glow/Red Pop, and White.
For Sorenson, he says you can’t go wrong with any of the patterns; he fishes them all, preferring the glow options for areas with dense snow cover and deep water.
“Northland has just a phenomenal glow. Especially late-winter when there’s a lot of snow on the ice, glow can up your catch rates,” says Sorenson.
In terms of sizes, Northland brings to the bait three sizes (3/4-, 1-, and 1 ½-ounce) to match all water depths big fish roam.
Sorenson notes: “One-ounce fishes well in 40- to 60-feet, a consistent depth to target for winter lake trout. If you do need to fish deeper—say, in 80- to 100-feet, that 1 ½ ounce tube is ideal. Both the 1- and 1 ½-ounce model have a 4/0 hook that’s properly-sized for the bait itself. And the tubes are rugged—you can catch 10 or 15 fish on one bait.”
Rod and Reel Set-Up
“I use a heavy-power 42-inch St. Croix Custom Ice Apex Predator ice rod with a size 2500 reel, 25-pound braid, and a 17-pound fluorocarbon leader. That long, heavy rod is imperative—you really need to set the hook on big fish, when you’re talking lake trout that are north of 20 pounds. You must have the right rod, reel, and line to really drive the hooks home,” offers Sorenson.
Besides his favorite waters in northern Ontario, Sorenson has been out to Fort Peck and caught a lot of trout, and the Lake Superior bite is good, too.
“The thing about Lake Superior is you’re typically fishing deep—200 to 250 feet. I prefer Superior when the bite is shallower and I can fish the 1 ½-ounce Level-Head Predator Tube in 120 to 150 feet,” notes Sorenson.
Sorenson encourages anglers to seek out stocked-trout lakes, too, where the bite can be a lot shallower. Northland’s new tubes will work their magic on these waters besides far-off trophy lake trout destinations.
“I’m not much of a believer in smaller baits, smaller fish. When I am looking for those smoker-sized lakers to keep, I’ll still use the bigger tubes. On those lakes where you do fish them shallower like stocked-trout lakes where the fish are around 25-inches, I’m still fishing big. Matching the lure to the depth is key, so in those lakes where the fish are in 15- to 25-feet of water I’ll dance a ¾-ounce bait. It just looks more natural and fishes better.”
Looking for a new big fish bait—whether we’re talking lake trout, pike, or plus-size ‘eyes—consider the new Northland Level-Head Predator Tube. Already on your game and chasing big lakers this winter—with plans to drive hundreds of miles to a big fish location? Stock up. With Northland’s new Level-Head Predator Tube, you don’t need a giant tackle selection—just the right stuff…