For about as long as Chesapeake fishermen have been trolling for bluefish and rockfish during the height of summer, surgical hoses have been a favorite lure, particularly in the upper Chesapeake Bay. Why? Because those suckers catch fish.
Over the past few seasons one of the “hot licks” has been the rubber tubes called Rock Hall Reds. And while there are plenty of hoses that attract strikes, for some charter skippers and recreational anglers there’s something different about RHR’s — which have been around for about 20 years — that make them catch better. Perhaps it’s the fact that these surgical hoses are more translucent, which may give them a better profile underwater. Another factor that has become more relevant as other brands have moved to cheaper materials is the ability of the wire in RHRs to hold shape. If you bend or kink these hoses, they hold the kink – which we discuss in a minute. Creator Ken Jarvis gives credit to a local charter skipper from the Rock Hall area for the name
Rock Hall Reds come in several sizes, with the more popular being the 12-inch model (6/0 hook) and the 15-inch model (7/0 hook). Trolling combos loaded with 20 to 30 pound test running line and leader of 40-60-pound test work well.
Pro fishermen and sport anglers who routinely drag tubes say the trick to catching fish with RHRs is making sure they swim right and at the correct depth. Most skippers put a bend in the tube, usually two-thirds the way towards the hook to give the lure as eel-like swimming action. You may want to experiment with the exact location of the link. Use a 10 to 15 foot leader, with a ball-bearing swivel in the middle to keep the lure from twisting and killing the action.
Skippers will often troll RHRs in combination with spoons, bucktails, and occasionally swimbaits , and at different depths. For summer trolling, you’ll want to work different water depths as well, working between the shallower water (25 feet) and the deeper shipping channels (50-plus feet).