Tubes are the most versatile soft plastic baits in my tackle box, which is why I carry more sizes and colors than all of my other soft plastics combined.
The beauty of the tube is you can fish it top to bottom, in deep open water or in shallow heavy cover, and emulate just about every type of forage a bass is known to eat.
You can swim it like an injured bluegill or shad, shake it along the bottom like a crawfish, or make it fall erratically to trigger those reactionary bites.
Tubes got their start on the West Coast where anglers used them as finesse baits, but they became more popular in the south when anglers discovered they’re great alternatives to jigs and worms for flipping around heavy cover.
There is no wrong way to fish a tube, but there are certainly ways to enhance them and get a few more bites. Here are some of the ways I fish them.
Jighead tubes: This is my favorite method for fishing tubes, especially in clear waters where cover is sparse. The jig head produces more erratic action than a Texas-rigged version that has the weight outside the lure.
Tubes with lightweight jigs stuffed inside the hollow cavity are deadly for fishing around grass. One of the best ways to trigger strikes is to allow the bait to catch the edge of weeds, then snap it free so it jumps from the cover.
An effective technique for imitating crawfish scooting over rocky or sandy flats is to work the bait erratically with some slack in the line. Keep the lure moving on bottom by twitching a light-tipped rod with short, rapid movements.
A tube jig requires proper weight and design to be effective. I prefer the tear-drop style of jig heads in which the lead tapers from the eye down the hook shank. That gives the bait more swimming and spiraling action whereas a traditional ball-head jig causes the bait sink vertically. I also prefer 60-degree angles of the eyelet coming out of the tube for fishing tubes on bottom because the hook rides upright and is less likely to snag.
Texas rig: When fishing cover, the Texas rig with a slip sinker and an offset hook is your best choice. The bait is ideal for flipping into heavy cover because it has a seductive fall and looks like a baitfish tumbling through the wood.
For this technique, I recommend tubes designed for flipping, such as Strike King’s Denny Brauer Flippin’ Tube, which are slightly larger and have a solid tip to help hold the hook. I also like to insert rattles in the tube when the water is dingy or the cover extra thick.
You can make the lure weedless the same way you do with a plastic worm – push the hook through the nose of the tube, turn it, then poke the point through both sides of the hollow body. Once the hook is completely out the other side, position the point on top of the outer wall then slip it just beneath the plastic. When a bass bites and you set the hook, the hook easily pops into the fish’s mouth.
My sinker weight depends upon my needs. I go light for more spiraling action or heavy to trigger a quick reaction bite. You have to experiment to see how the fish want it.
Weightless: This rig is overlooked by a lot of anglers but it can be deadly for pitching around shallow vegetation, boat docks and bushes. It helps to use a flipping style tube because it’s slightly heavier and falls a little better.
Drop Shot: Again, most anglers don’t think of tubes for this tactic, but I’ve had some success drop-shotting Strike King’s smaller Bitsy Tube in baitfish colors. It produces a lot of action because the tails flare when you shake it and it looks like a flitting minnow.