Tuff Tails – Lure Skirting Vinyl or Rubber

Tuff Tails Lure Skirt Embellishment – Silicone Rubber Skirts – or Synthetic Vinyl

Over the last few years, I found that there are MANY different ways to embellish big game fishing lures with tuff tails, also known as “newels.” I am going to detail a few of my favorites. This is not the “end all-be all” to skirting fishing lures with tuff tails. In my experience, every fisherman has his or her own preferences. These are mine.

Normally, I use tuff tails on lures that I intend to skirt with vinyl, although they are often used underneath rubber skirts as well. Vinyl sheets are monochromatic, so tuff tails add color and variety to your dressed lure. I tie strips of tuff tails onto the innermost/lower ridge or shoulder of a lure. After that, I secure the vinyl skirt onto the outer/upper ridge shoulder. The lures pictured are Koya XL 861 skirted in vinyl and tuff tails.


When I first started adding tuff tails to slant face lures, I tied the tuff tails only to the bottom half of the lure head. I targeted the bottom half to augment the way the lure was already weighted. I select four spots for tuff tails, each with 2 or 3 tails, depending on the size of the lure. However, I do not believe there is a wrong number of tuff tails you that can tie to the inside of a lure, so long as you maintain balance. (see diagram Slant Faced Lures)


Recently, I was talking with Nick Durham from Tantrum Lures while I was skirting one of his large AMNs. He told me that he ties his tuff tails onto flat face tubes in a different way. You can see in the diagram “lure without slant face with tuff tail diagram,” the tuff tails are still tied in four places. However, the tuff tail placement pattern is an X formation (basically at 45°, 135°, 225°, and 320°). Nick said that because the Tantrum’s AMN is uniform all the way around, you don’t need to worry about tying the tuff tails only to the bottom half of the lure.


Night Runner Captain, Shawn Rotella, is known as one of the best live bait captains in Kona, Hawaii. However, Captain Rotella is also known for his prowess with artificial bait. He has been crafting and testing his own Hawaiian style lures for years now and his products are used by marlin fishermen all around the world. I asked Shawn if he uses tuff tails and where he thinks they belong. Shawn says he ties his tuff tails in an X formation (45°, 135°, 225°, and 320°) even on slant face lures. However, the Night Runner captain thinks the tuff tail weight only makes a miniscule difference to the way the lure fishes. He thinks it is overkill to worry too much about the added weight of tuff tails.

That being said, Shawn indicated it is very important the tuff tails are tied onto the lure so that the vinyl is flush against the outside of the lure head. In addition, he prefers the tuff tails to be symmetrical from left to right.

The way I skirt vinyl works extremely well and all the local Kona guys seem pretty happy with the results. Overall, two details seem most important. Firstly, tuff tails are skirted so the left side and the right side of the lure head are symmetrical. In addition, the top ridge must be flush with the tuff tails. This way, the lure is balanced and there aren’t any unsightly bumps. Bumps can adversely affect the way the lure runs in the water. All of the other tuff tail placement details are individual preference.

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