Keys to Your Tube Fishing Success
Get ready, get set, go! We're jumping right into
this thing, so hold on to your hat!
When to flip a Texas rig as opposed to
flippin' a jig? In
extremely brushy or weedy areas that you just cannot get a
flipping jig through, go Texas bullet style. Do not use a
flipping jig with a bulky skirt and trailer in such thick cover.
It's bulkiness resists breaking through hard-to-penetrate cover.
Use a thin bait (a tube or worm) that slips easily through thick
cover. A Texas-rigged tube slips through great. If you opt for a
worm, make sure it does not have a clingy tail that will wrap
around and break off on grabby cover. With either bait, there are
three rigging options, but the first one is usually the best in
1) Pegging the weight right on the nose of the bait is
usually required in thick cover. Break off a toothpick in the
butt of the weight to keep it in place. Because the pegged weight
and the bait essentially cast as one piece, you can cast as
precisely as possible into teacup-sized holes and you do not have
any of the inaccuracy that occurs with an unpegged weight when it
slides up the line on a cast into cover.
2) In moderate cover, peg the bullet (or a Mojo) weight
about 6 to 9 inches above the bait. This short, fixed leader
gives you more consistent casting accuracy than an unpegged bait
and more free fall action on the drop than a nose-pegged worm or
tube. This is usually a good way to go in moderate cover.
3) An unpegged weight and bead can be the way to go in
light cover but it presents three manageability problems in dense
cover. First, it is awkward to cast. You can not cast as
precisely as is often required in dense cover because the weight
will tend to slide up and away from the bait when you cast - and
you'll lose that pinpoint precision required to nail small open
spots of water on the cast. Second, the unpegged weight will
often break through cover, slide down the line to the bottom
leaving the bait stuck on the surface. Third, once you get your
rig under the surface stuff, the unpegged weight will often slide
down your line to the bottom on one side of a branch, log or weed
clump while your hook and bait stays behind on the other side of
the log, branch or whatever. This leads to difficulty in setting
the hook. However, an unpegged weight can be attractive to fish
in light cover, especially when a bead is used between the weight
and the bait to generate clicking noise as the weight constantly
hammers against the bead.
one may work, when to use a tube instead of a jig? I tend to use a skirted jig/trailer to imitate
crayfish and a tube to imitate preyfish. I am sure either lure
can imitate either critter, but jigs are basically craws to me
and tubes are baitfish. A jig has got all sorts of wavy legs,
tails and stuff like a craw whereas a tube is sleek-bodied with a
flittery tail like a baitfish. All of the earthy colors (blacks,
browns, greens) that work in jigs also work in tubes.
Additionally, tubes come in nifty baitfish patterns that jigs
generally do not.
Now, craws crawl and baitfish swim. So, I use jigs as
dropbaits and tubes as swimbaits in cover. Because I want tubes
to swim and float around more in cover, I use lighter weight
tubes than jigs. To make tubes swim, I use two tactics. First, I
often draw the rod tip slowly from nine o'clock until twelve
without reeling, letting the tube drift back to bottom as I reel
slowly down to nine again. Second, I will reel very slowly,
occasionally flicking the rod tip and pausing, which causes the
tube to flit and fall. With either of the two tactics, there's
lots of pausing without reeling to let the tube flutter down and
lay on the bottom.
In the thickest of cover, a
Texas-rigged tube can knife through places that you cannot
penetrate with bulky jigs. In sparser cover, I often opt to use
tubes on wireguard jig heads. Tubes have thin baitfish profiles
and I personally like the sleek, unobtrusive look of the
wireguard on thin profile baits. That is why I will use a
wireguard - to preserve the sleek look on tubes. On bulkier baits
like skirted jigs/trailers or soft plastic skirted spider grubs,
I fish these more vertically on the drop, and I opt for the
sturdier fiberguards, either thinning them down to a few fibers
in light cover, or keeping more fibers intact for heavier cover.
Fish hit both tubes and jigs equally greedily on the drop.
Fish gobble up both tubes and jigs equally well when you let them
lay on the bottom and occasionally jiggle them. In addition, fish
smoke tubes when you swim them back out to you horizontally and
slowly across the bottom with frequent pauses. Therefore, I use
the sleek look given by Texas rigs and wireguard jigs to swim
tubes out of the cover horizontally like baitfish do, getting
hits at any point in the process. I do not get smoked nearly as
much when swimming or crawling jigs horizontally out of cover.
So, I flip and jiggle jigs in place then pull them out. I flip
and jiggle tubes in place then swim them out.
Hold on tight again!
We're getting out of the thick cover with flippin' tubes and
heavy tackle...and we're picking up the light tackle spinning
Tubes on spinning gear have
always been one of the most productive baits for me the last 15
years or so. Tubes really shine when I need to go to a finessy,
lightweight, hang there and hover kind of approach. Few other
lures I've used do that as good as a tube. I almost always use
jig heads as opposed to T-rigged for this. The line tie eye
coming off the top of the tube helps it get that float for me.
Also, I feel the jig head is more solid for the hookset, being
one piece with the hook gap wide and clear as opposed to a
T-rigged tube, which is two pieces (weight and hook) with the
hook gap clogged by the bulk of the tube body. I use light jig
heads of 1/16 oz. for this in 6 feet or less, and I use 1/8 oz.
down to 12 feet, or 1/4 for 18 feet - always understanding that
the increased weight gives you increased depth - but also robs
the tube of the hovering, gliding kind of action inherent in
Now, I'm not talking flipping tubes here, but casting tubes
across light cover or open water on spinning gear. Flipping tubes
are a different kind of animal, and we already talked about them
Getting back to lightweight tubes - in shallower water, I'll
use 12 lb. test with the 1/16 oz. heads, and lower the line test
as I go progressively deeper with progressively heavier heads -
1/8 oz. with 10 lb test, 1/4 oz. with 8 lb. test. The fatter line
diameter lets the tube float and hover more in shallower water,
but the thinner line diameter gets it down deeper - and the line
and the water pressure drag on the long thin line in deep water
makes a line belly that gives the same neutral buoyancy effect as
you get on a short fat line in shallower water. That's an
important point. The effect of the line often dictates the action
of a lure. The line - and how you control the belly, slack and
tautness in it - allows the lure to achieve its optimum action -
or not. Sometimes, especially with the light tubes we are
discussing here, you should be focusing on the line and how you
handle it more than you should be focusing on the lure itself.
The proper placement of belly in the line is not always bad. When
used properly, belly makes an oscillating effect that follows
through into the lure which suspends neutrally like one of those
little Cartesian diver toys we played with as kids. If you
control the line, the tube will be floating around there kind of
totally weightless on the end of the string doing its own thing.
Fish will wolf it down when the tube achieves that equilibrium
point of optimum life-like action induced by proper line
Let's switch gears again to talk
about the Ika, a solid-bodied tube lure alternative.
Ikas. As far as the Gary Yamamoto Ikas go, I always think of
them as a different lure than a tube. They may have the same
shape, but a tube is about as light as you can get for that shape
(it's hollow), whereas an Ika is about as heavy as you can get
for that same shape. Because of that weight difference, I don't
consider them to be the same.
The Ikas produce fish if you treat them as their own lure, never
trying to make them be a tube in my mind, which may be
different from somebody else's thinking. That's what makes
fishing interesting - no two people do it the same!
I will use Ikas on the same or a slightly heavier set-up than
tubes. I use tubes to hover, glide and laze around. However, I
use Ikas to dart, snap and move somewhat quicker than a tube.
Also, because it is so dense, the Ika excels on a weightless or
splitshot presentation whereas I personally consider tubes to be
lousy (too light) when used weightless, and tubes can sometimes
act too flighty for my taste (the Ika hunkers down whereas the
tube floats) on a quickly-fished splitshot rig.
Not saying my opinion is right or wrong, just
that's what I choose to do!