April 15, 2020
By Ron Kowalyk
Customizable inner tube lures for cobia and more.
Most of the year we can find cobia on shallow reefs from 3 to 9 miles out but they can be a little down deep on the structures. I like a lure that makes lots of commotion, that can be jigged, cranked or trolled. And, bigger is at times better!
A lure with a strong silhouette—I like black best—that's got some wiggling action and can be made in a variety of sizes is ideal. A cost-effective, homeboy customized “eel” made from a bicycle inner tube is a great rig.
If you've spent some time fishing on the northeastern U.S. coast, you might notice this rig looks like an eel skin. Natural eel skins have long been killer offerings for stripers and other fish, but supplies are hard to come by. If you vary “fake” eel skins and match them to plugs of different sizes and running depths, you'll have an arsenal of offerings.
Here's the stuff you need to make a good surface, shallow and deep running imitation eel that can also be cast and jigged near the surface. You'll want to use an 8-foot, medium- heavy stick with 20- or 30-pound braid to pitch it at surface feeders and to slow troll it around reefs, ledges and wrecks.
I like a variety of plugs to cover the water column from surface plugs to an assortment of 5-foot shallow runners, to 15- or 25-foot deep-diggers. Many kinds of jigs may also be enlisted for making these versatile tube lures.
1. A 27-inch racing bicycle inner tube ($4.99 at Ace Hardware) will cover all your bases.
2. Cut a number of tubing sections to your desired length; 10- to 15-inch sections will match most plug sizes.
3. A zip tie can be used to keep the tube tails straight off the trailing hook on longer tails. Trim the zip ties to match the tube section; 3 or 4 inches is a good start. Smaller tubes of 12 inches or less will not require a zip tie.
4. Cut the tube section to cover most of the plug body. Cut the tube tails so they taper to a nice point.
5. Before applying the tube tail, remove the front and trailing hook with split-ring pliers. You may choose to notch the front section of the tube to allow the front hook to hang down just behind the front of the tube. Fatter body plugs may require a drop or two of lubricant to aid in slipping the tube up and over the plug body.
6. After slipping the tube on the plug, make sure the tail section is on a vertical axis to ensure eel-like swimming action. A dab of glue, rubber band or zip tie might be used to secure the tube at the front end of the plug. Now is a good time to replace the old hooks with new sharper, stronger ones.
7. Glue the split tail sections together with glue compatible with the base rubber of the tails. Cheap tire patch kit glue, spray carpet adhesive, rubber cement, textile adhesive and so on all work. Press the glued tail section together and allow it to set. You may want to use weight or pressure
to ensure a tight bond.
8. These imitation eel skin plugs are best fished on a loop knot that allows lots of free-swinging action. Don't be surprised if a shark, goliath, big jack or even a mega redfish whacks this offering. It's a great gizmo for attracting cobia cruising behind sharks and big rays and for cobia smacking fleeing bait pods.
9. A herky, jerky, pumping retrieve will generate wiggling, diving, undulating action, just what cobia are attracted to. The wounded eel presentation! FS
Florida Sportsman Magazine December 2014