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Eight Great Tube Bait Heads

By Russ Bassdozer

Garry Garland makes four of the best tube jig heads on the market. They are his Gitzit F Series Insider, T Series Insider, Finesse Head, and Minnow Head. Each of these has its own special characteristics that can make one better than the other in certain situations. We will tell you more about this in the article below, and also tell you of several other brands of great tube jig heads - ten in all! After all, a great tube bait like the Gitzit deserves a great tube jig head!

There are so many copies of the original Gitzit on the market today, that you have an incredible choice of tube bait bodies. However there are not that many good tube bait heads. Even if you do not always use Garry Garland's Gitzit bodies, you should always use his heads. Garry perfectly balances his Gitzit heads to bring out the best Gitzit tube action - which is an erratic, unpredictable side-to-side action on a horizontal glide, and an erratic, unpredictable zigzag or a spiral fall on the sink. Many other vendors' tube jig heads are just not properly balanced in order to generate as much action as the Garland jigs.

Two Series of Insiders. Garry's Insider Lead Heads come in two series, the T Series and F Series. Both are rigged inside the tube bait. Both develop that wavering Garland action as a tube bait drops on a semi-tight line. An important thing you control is exactly where you bring the hook eye out from inside the tube bait. As a rule of thumb, the further back (within reason) you rig a jig inside the tube, the more action you will get! The T Series is for normal situations and has a medium wire 4/0. The F Series sports a heavy 2/0 hook. Both come in 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 oz.

Gitzit Finesse Head. A third great jig head from Garry is his original Gitzit Finesse Head. It comes in only one size, 1/16 oz. Do not be fooled into thinking 1/16 oz is too light. If you've ever cast a tube bait, then you know you can cast a 1/16 oz. head and get far out even on 12 lb. test gear.

This head is outstanding in that it gives tubes one of the best spiral falls on light tackle. It's different from most other jig heads in that it has a very large barb that acts like a keel to seesaw weight/balance back behind the hook eye as you allow your lure to sink on a semi-tight line. This allows the Gitzit to develop a spiraling action on the sink and an erratic, unpredictable side-to-side action on the retrieve. Most often, the Gitzit Finesse head is rigged externally, but it can also be rigged internally. As a rule of thumb, if you rig a jig head externally, the tube will sink faster and spiral more sharply than if the same head is rigged internally.

Minnow Heads. For light lines and medium to fast running water, use Garry Garland's Original Minnow Head Jigs in 1/8 to 1/4 oz. These are silvery minnow-shaped heads painted with black eyes. Each head is clear coated for additional gloss and to retain the underlying metal's shiny luster. It has a gold wire #2/0 Aberdeen hook. I just drift the tube along near bottom and many fish just suck the bait in without any clue of a hit. Because of the thin gold wire hooks, a little honing renders them hypodermic sharp and most fish will hook themselves with little assistance from you as you drift your jig in the current. I sometimes kirb or bend the hook slightly to the side to facilitate this. Look at the bass you catch face to face. If you notice you are consistently hooking them in one side of the jaw, then kirb your hook slightly in that direction.

I usually rig these outside the bait. The Minnow Head jig has a large barb that acts like a keel to shift weight/balance back behind the hook eye as you allow your lure to float downstream in a current on a semi-tight line. This allows the Gitzit to develop an erratic, unpredictable drift that reacts as if alive to every swirl or surge in the current as the tube is buffeted downstream.

Yamamoto Round Head. I also wish to mention Yamamoto round head jigs. I do not use them inside of tubes. I get more action from a tube bait body by using them on the outside.

If anyone knows of a better round head jig, please tell me so I can buy them and use them myself. Otherwise, I say the Yamamoto's are the best light weight round heads on the market. I will tell you why I feel that way:

1.) They come in precisely graduated sizes of 1/16, 1/8, 3/16, 1/4 ounces, allowing you to tune into the exactly right size for the fishing situation at hand.

2.) They come with a thin but very strong high carbon steel hook from Owner.

3.) They come with a large gap hook -- looks like a 3/0 in the 1/16 and 1/8

4.) They are precision made and center-balanced. Center-balancing allows the head to react more to jigging, rod shaking, water flow, bouncing into things, etc. As the center-balanced head reacts, it imparts more life-like action to the soft plastic tail dressing.

I take cutters or pliers to completely remove the lead collar from the Yamamoto Round Head jigs. Removing the collar makes the Yamamoto Round Heads even more center-balanced and responsive to rod or water movement. Then I glue a Gitzit right onto the bare jig hook shank behind the ball head. You get a better balance out of the ball head and a more life-like action and quiver out of the Gitzit.

TR Lead Head. Garry's brother, Bobby Garland has also got a good one called the TR Lead Head. TR stands for Texas Rig. It is a pointy streamlined leadhead on a medium wire 4/0 offset bend hook. It can go inside or outside the tube. If you use it outside, superglue it on. It comes in 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 oz. It comes through heavy cover quite nicely, and you can rig it "Tex-posed" which exposes the hook for better hooksets, or rig it plain old Texas style, which completely hides the hook for the most weedless and snagless situations. Click here to learn more about Tex-posed and good old Texas rigging.

Rocker Head. Bobby Garland also provides a mushroom style head with a single upright flexible wire prong weedguard. He calls it his Rocker head. It's best action is gotten by rigging it inside a tube bait as opposed to outside. It is used when you want to work tubes right on the bottom. The mushroom shape helps the tube stand upright, and the wire prong protects the hook point from getting hung up as much as an open hook.

Minnow Profile Insert Head. Bobby has something pretty cool called a Minnow Profile Tube Lure Insert. It is exactly that, a profile shape of a minnow head that goes inside and stretches the head of the tube slightly to transform the round tube bait into an authentic-looking minnow profile. I pair these with the 3 3/4" Gitzits that Garry makes with the realistic eyes! Between the eyes and the stretched form of the minnow head profile, it looks classic!  Like Garry's Minnow Head which we mentioned above, I also like to use Bobby's Minnow Insert in rivers, streams and flows. It comes in 1/8 and 1/4 oz. Bobby can be reached at 870-481-5363.

Last but not least, there afre a few good wireguard jig hooks that are the next "step up" from an exposed jig hook. Oldham Lures makes some. Oldham's wires are very thin - and they are not as snag resistant as a fiberguard - but much better than an exposed hook. There are two models of Oldham wireguards that can work for tubes:

  • First, and strictly designed for tubes is the Oldham Weedless Tube Head with a 3/0 medium wire hook. It comes in a full "tool set" of 1/16, 1/8, 3/16 and 1/4 oz. To rig one, first slowly bend the wireguard all the way straight forward in front of the hook eye. Moisten the tube, and start to insert the wireguard and jig head inside the tube. Poke the wireguard out the top of the tube about 1/4" from its nose. Continue to work the jig head forward until you can also poke the jig eye out the top of the tube, creating a second hole for the hook eye just in front of where the wireguard pokes out of the tube. Now slowly bend the wireguard all the way back to its original shape covering the hook point. 
  • Second is the Oldham Weedless Screwlock Moss Head with a 3/0 medium wire hook. This one goes on the outside of the tube and it has a screwlock that you kind of screw the tube onto the hook shank. It holds very well...the bait gets locked on good! This is also a great head for swimming 4" and 5" single tail grubs and 5" to 6" ribbontail worms through light to medium weed and wood cover.

The final step with either Oldham jig head is to take the two sides of the wireguard and spread them as far apart to the sides as you can. You do this to make the wireguard protect the hook point from snags when the tube rolls over on its sides. Fanning the wires out to the side even protects from snagging if the wireguard springs open duroing the retrieve. However, for the best snag protection, always tuck the wireguard back under the hookpoint if you see that it has sprung open. During the excitement of catching a few good fish, the wire can become bent up or loosen up. A little drop of superglue where the wire enters the leadhead can stiffen it up again. Eventually, you should just yank the bedragled wire out with pliers, converting it to an exposed hook jig. But by that time, I am sure you will not mind!

Keep in mind it's a thin wireguard that works great in all kinds of grass, and in sparse brush, skipping baits under overhanging bushes and under weeping willows. It is not for heavy cover though, you need a fiberguard for that!

Finally, if you can ever find it, there is an incredibly great wireguard tube jig head that has disappeared off the market these days. During the mid-nineties it was offered by both Terry Oldham and Lonnie Stanley's companies, and also retailed in mail order catalogs like Barlows. Stanley marketed it as a component of his Jigzit tube bait, whereas Oldham called it a "2 Way" meaning it could be rigged inside or outside. It had a 3/0 medium hook and the design was absolutely perfect for tubes. It is one of my all time favorite tube jig heads, and I have several hundred in my private stock. If I ever uncover a source for them again, I will let you know.

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