Most bass fishermen own at least a few packs of tubes, and the majority of those anglers probably put tubes to work from time to time. That said, tubes too often get categorized as single-use baits, and few anglers seem to appreciate the huge variety of ways these dynamite soft-plastic lures can be used. With that in mind, let’s explore six of the most effective ways to fish a tube.
It makes sense to begin with the approach that has best defined soft-plastic, tube-style baits in recent years. Dragging tubes across the bottom has accounted for countless thousands of smallmouth bass and remains a favored strategy for many fishermen. Dragging also produces largemouths, of course, but it shines over rocky flats and other offshore areas, where smallmouth bass tend to be the main attraction.
Dragging a tube is one of the easiest bass techniques to execute, but it’s among the hardest things to convince yourself to do if you’re not used to it. You’ll find yourself wanting to add twitches, jiggles and hops, but in many cases the absolute best way to work a tube over offshore structure is to simply drag it. Given enough wind to drift and a sufficiently vast area to work, start upwind of potentially productive area, pitch your bait upwind, let it sink to the bottom and hold the line tight as the boat drifts.
If the bottom isn’t too snaggy to use an open hook, rig your tube with an “insider” tube head. The down-side of these heads is that you have to re-tie whenever you change tubes. However, the tube won’t slip down like it would with a regular jighead, it will snag far less often, and you’ll generally get better hook-up ratios. Eight- or 10-pound fluorocarbon line and medium weight spinning gear work well for dragging tubes.
Depending on where you are fishing, you’ll probably be imitating a goby or a crawfish, so keep the appearance of these critters in mind when you make color selections.