We all know how effective tubes fished on internal weighed heads can be. The fact is that if you only use them this way, you are seriously hampering the true potential of this bait and its versatility. I've discovered, many years ago that fishing a tube in weed choked waters was a great way to catch fish. The problem I encountered was the open hook continuously and unmercifully getting snagged all day long. To combat this, I simply tried to rig the tube on a Texas rig. Ultimately I settled on a brass and glass type rig that has always rated well for me. This rig mixes sexy tubes, scent and sound to form a complete package of bass grabbing attention.
Equipment: 6-6 medium fast action spinning rod. The best rods for this method are high modulus models with a solid backbone. I use a Kistler Helium LTA 6-6 He66MS. This rod provides me with light overall weight and a soft tip but also the brute gorilla strength to yank larger bass toward the boat. Not finesse fishing you say? Well consider that I normally use 8lb line and often drop that down to lighter 6lb Yo Zuri Hybrid. Even in the thickest cover, I've gotten by with the lighter lines. You could utilize a 20lb super line like Sea King's 20/6 or 14/4. These will help slice through vegetation with ease. I prefer a fairly fast ratio reel. For tubing, I go with Shimano, no surprise, Sustain 2500 FD. This reel is as dependable as they come.
Terminal Tackle: My tube rig works best with brass Weenie Weights. I like 1/16 or 1/8 Top Brass Tackle Weenie Weights painted black. The weenie weight is simply a shorter, wider sliding bullet that weight is made of brass. This produces much better sound amplification and is environmentally friendly. For hooks, I use either Sugoi 3/0, 3/0 Owner Rig n hook or a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG. What sets this method apart from standard Texas rigs is that I use a fire polished faceted glass bead. This accomplishes two things. First the bead reflects light and flashes. I truly believe that this is one of the best attributes of the rig. Secondly, the bead and the weenie weight slap back and forth, so sometimes appealing fish to its location. The fire polished, faceted glass beads are super hard and will not cut your line.
The Tube: The Only tube I use is a Wicked Tube by Micro Munch Tackle. This bait is a thick walled hand dipped tube that holds the hook nicely. The double thick wall gives the tube durability and is necessary in the thick cover to prevent tearing. Fish do not hold on to the bait, they eat it. This tube is dipped in a salt impregnated plastic mix and then Kick N Bass scent is added to the plastic before the tubes are molded. This produces a tube that is noticeably stinky.
This tube rigged on a Sugoi 3/0 hook has figured for me in almost every tournament I've fished. If you have been paying attention so far, you will notice that this rig uses sight, scent, taste, and sound to tantalize Mr. Bass. If you've ever fished with the Wicked Tube you certainly have not noticed the oil slick the bait produces in the water. Its odor will have every cat in the neighborhood clawing to get in your dry storage box to get at them. I prefer the standard 4 "tube but occasionally I will upgrade to the larger El Gordo style tube. , not too many other anglers throw it regularly. Its size alone may intimidate some.
Colors: I prefer the following colors; Green Pumpkin, Black Grape, Water Melon Magic, June Bug, Smoke Purple Flake, Road Kill Camo, and Black Red Flake. I match the glass bead to the bait. Black, Brown, Purple, or Green beads will match all the previously mentioned colors.
Rigging: This rig can be set up just like the traditional Texas rig. Slide the Weenie Weight up the line followed by the glass bead. It is not necessary to peg the weight or the bead. Next tie the hook on with a Palomar knot for strength. Bury the hook point about a 1/4 inch dead center in the head of the tube. Pull the hook through the side of the bait until the hook eye enters the tube head. Next pop the hook back into the side and pull the point through, penetrating through the opposite side of the tube (back out again). The tube should be straight. The point of the hook should be exposed and tight to the fleshy side of the tube. The exposed point allows for easier penetration on the hook set. The hook does not have to penetrate the extra plastic in the tube, so sticks into the fishes' mouth with minimal effort.
"With this rig I usually notice one of two things: either I feel the bass chewing on the tube, similar to a plastic worm pick up, or I do not feel the bait at all which means a bass has picked it up and is usually moving off with it. "
This tube is very effective in 8ft of water or less. Its light weight will not allow it to be fished effectively beyond that depth. Because it is weedless, it can be fished just about anywhere and if you add a heavier weight, you can certainly probe the depths with it. I prefer docks, boathouses, any overhead cover, inlet points, and flats. Of course the rig will work anywhere provided cover cover can be found. The rig works when skipped under or through cover. This is what sets the rig apart from conventional tube rigs. The tube itself is weightless. When cast the Weenie weight falls away from the bait and slowly drifts to the bottom. The tube flutters to the bottom even slower. Its slow fall is a crucial trait to its success. Standard tube rigs that are internally weighted spiral to the bottom.
They are directly weighed and fall through the strike zone faster then the Texas rig. As the weight of the Texas tube rig slides forward, it slowly pulls the bait along. This is the reason I do not use bait casting gear. Flipping and pitching are not accurate presentations for this rig. I aim to skip my bait past the target so it slowly falls through cover. After I cast to a piece of cover, I try to maintain a tight line because very often the bait is stuck just as it enters the water. If I do not feel a strike, then I may jiggle the rod tip to get the bead and weight to make some noise. I then let the tube fall on controlled slack line and cover the lower column of the water I'm working.
I do not fish this bait in open water as I would prefer internally rigged tubes for that. I target specific visible cover and try to pick it apart as best as I can despite the "falling away from cover" action the bait has. Getting the bait to skip is the real art of an accurate presentation with this rig. Sometimes I will try to crash bait through cover so it actually passes by my target. This is because a forceful cast will not allow the weight to create drag on the cast and keeps the bait on target. The bait will pass through the cover and remain in the strike zone longer. You may also be able to feather a skip cast to put the bait right on the target. The 1/16 oz weight will not pull the bait as much as a heavier size.
Get the brass weight and glass working to produce some sound. I move the rod tip ever so slightly, perhaps only an inch or two at a time. You do not want to over exaggerate your movements. The slight movements are key because you do not want to physically move the bait while you are trying to make it sound off.
The Bite: Many tube bites simply feel like a mushy wet rag on the end of the line sensation. With this rig I usually notice one of two things: either I feel the bass chewing on the tube, similar to a plastic worm pick up, or I do not feel the bait at all which means a bass has picked it up and is usually moving off with it. This happens because the tube is weightless and the bass does not feel resistance in the form of an unnatural internal weight. Normally the line will just start moving off. Polarized sunglasses are a must for this technique. It is important with this and most other jig techniques to "weigh the line". What this means is to learn what the bait feels like in the water. Usually any lighter or heavier sensation is a strike. When I detect a strike I really like to crank the hook home. Even though I tend to use light line and set my drag tight, I rarely break off on a fish. Normally if I hang a monster, I will disengage the anti-reverse and back reel. I use a sweeping set as this allows me to move more line than the standard over the shoulder jig jerk. I'm not exaggerating when I say that fish does not spit the tube out. They just do not. They really do eat it.
The Texas rig tube excels during the early spring and through early fall. I simply prefer to fish other baits at different times of the year. It is an excellent big fish attractor because it has a thick profile and does not give off many, if any, negative cues. Rigged with a glass bead, it looks to all bass senses' and like I stated earlier, "These tubes get eaten". The combination of salt and scent are hard for any bass to reject.
Gear Breakdown: Texas Tube Fishing Insanity
Rod: Kislter Helium LTA 6-6 M He66MS
Reel: Shimano Sustain FD 2500
Line: Yo Zuri Hybrid 8lb
Hook: Sugoi or Gamakatsu 2/0 or 3/0 EWG
Tube: Micro Munch Tackle Wicked Tube 4 "
Terminal: Top Brass Tackle Brass weight and fire polished faceted Glass bead
The Texas rig tube is a very consistent producer. If by chance bass want a different look, there are several alternatives. I'm a big fan of finesse techniques from the West coast. My sleeper tube rig is the same rig, but with the bead pegged 18 inches above the hook. The sinker is still free to slide and a striking fish will not feel extra weight. This rig can be crept along the bottom similar to a Carolina rig. This is a noisier presentation as the bead and weight are always in contact.
We all know that tubes are very versatile. I have used these tubes to work bass on inside / outside weed lines with amazing consistency the last few seasons. This is one of those great baits that nobody should be without. It can be especially important to guys who do not prefer to throw a jig.
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