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how to fish tubes for smallies

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i never throw a tube for smallmouth.. I have some tubes, but never know when to fish them. I was very successful this weekend caching smallies on a senko and jerkbait. lost a few on n drop shot also, im new to drop shotting and either pulled the hook from the fishes mouth or missed the hook set completely and they took my robo worm!

when would i throw a tube over a senko or jerkbait??? i always use what i know will work, and seeing as how i know senkos and jerkbaits work.. why and when go to a tube??

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When they're relating more to the bottom and won't come up to eat the other two. I like to fish a tube with an insert head and drag them along the bottom. 

http://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-videos/rig-tube-bait.html

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My smallmouth fishing is almost always on a river. I will use a t-rigged tube or a "stupid tube" when I want to get my presentation down to the bottom in current.

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I like to bounce them with these heads: http://www.powerteamlures.com/fct-jig-heads/

I, too, fish for smallies in rivers.  I can't operate a drop shot in current for nothing....I go through a half dozen weights per fish.  These tube heads, on the other hand seem to laugh at rocks

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I like to drop a 1/4 oz egg sinker in the head and put my hook thru the back and lightly hop it, i use a dropshot hook

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I'm kinda different with presentation using tubes. I like to use internal weights (jigs or Tx rigging). Once on the bottom I like to snap the tube up off the bottom aggressively. Then let it settle and repeat. Caught a lot of big smallies with this kind of presentaion. And do not be afraid to try a 4" white tube either. :)

As far as "when" to use it goes. Let the fish tell you. Try one thing....then another....sooner or later you'll key into their mood for the day.

 

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Pre spawn, I swim them shallow with lots of pops and sweep action from the rod. When they move back out deep, it's a simple slack line drop on a spinning setup and drag on the bottom. I use around a 1/4 oz. tube jig for the shallow stuff and usually around an ounce for the deeper stuff. 

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I feel like I could right a book about tube fishing sometimes. The bait is so simple, yet so versatile. If you can fish a skirted jig or a shakeyhead, you can handle a tube. I've been lurking here a long time, I can say I've gotten some great info and I want to give some back, so here goes...

Don't stare at it...it's ugly, but they work, I promise you that. If you had to choose, a tube best imitates bottom dwelling creatures that bass love so much, namely the crayfish, crawdad, mudbug, whatever you want to call them. They do a good job imitating gobies, sunfish, and perch too.  

The tried and true method used to fish a tube jig has been mentioned 100s of times here on bass resource. The drag/drift method. Find rocky structure, drop tube to bottom, let wind or trolling motor take you to the bass. This method is just as possible from shore, but putting jigs uphill = more snags, but I've caught a lot of bass from shore, dragging a tube. You've got to be feeling bottom. If you're not feeling that jig sliding over and bumping into rocks, you're probably not where the (smallmouth) bass are. While you learn this, you'll be setting hooks into rocks, weeds, brush, folding lawn chairs...etc. You'll learn to distinguish bottom contour and compostion like the back of your hand. How'd the pro used to learn a new spot? Dragging a jig around it........ You'll know you're "getting it" when you find yourself setting the hook for what seems like no reason and just like that there's a fish on the line.

First thing to really understand is you ARE going to lose tube jigs, lots of them, get used to it. Put more money into the terminal tackle, get yourself a bunch of the internal jigheads designed for tubes. Make sure you've got some different weights, and get plenty extras if you really want to learn. What weight do I use most? 3/16oz. In some bodies, this isn't even close to enough weight to get to depth. But in most situations, 3/16oz is enough to get to bottom without plowing it like a field, and light enough to give a slow fall or tumble in the current.  I keep a stock of 1/16oz to 1 oz weights. You don't need to go all out immediately... ask yourself: what weights do you use on other baits like a TX rig worm or shakey for where YOU fish? Transfer that knowledge over.   

Don't go out gander and buy a manufacturers entire lineup of tube colors, not necessary. If you catch them on green pumpkin senkos, or watermelon trick worm, whatever, go get yourself that color which you are confident in. Some bodies of waters have hot colors, it is what it is. Know thy waters. If you don't know what color to get, go with good ol' green pumpkin, it imitates many things bass want to eat. If you want another color, get black, melon, white, or smoke. Those 5 colors will produce. Don't worry too much about flakes, if you want flake though, I like blue, purple, orange, or "hologram (multi color.)" I don't think it makes a difference most days, but it gives confidence so there's that.    

With it's bulky body and flailing tentacles, a tube can also resemble baitfish if you fish it the right way. By snapping off the bottom and allowing to fall back (usually spiraling down) you are now imitating a dying baitfish. Sometimes when I run out of jigheads or whatever, I fish them with little or no weight. By jerking erratically and giving slack like a hard body jerkbait, you are again showing them something new (usually.) Some tubes float, some of them sink with no weight added, you have to experiment a bit with this tactic, but in snaggy/shallow rivers, it can be deadly. Lightwire 1/0-3/0 ewg hook. 1/16 oz or less weight will make some tubes suspend just below the surface as you work it back. To add that weight get a piece of suspend strip to wrap around the hook shank or experiment with different hooks until you find one that makes the tube do what you want. Or just let it float, use them as a topwater, don't believe me? See the BPS poppin tube. This is just something they don't see everyday, sometimes it works.  

Want to add some flair to plain jane color tube? Grab a pack of flashabou and tie a few strips to the hook shank or bottom of line tie and let it hang out the back, obviously you have to cut strips longer than the tube to get the desired result.

Scent makes sense with tubes....I like gulp crawfish spray.

A little more on terminal tackle. There's many ways to rig up a tube, and the options are out there to make it easy for you. For a typical 3.5 tube I run a jighead with a 2/0 or 3/0 hook. 4" gets a 4/0. A 2.5" inch mini tubes get something a bit different, I use a darter jighead with a small hook, size 1 or 1/0. Some companies make smaller style heads with stout hooks, but they're harder and harder to find and I'm not about to blow up that connection, do your homework. The little tubes can really be killer some days, just like down sizing with any other presentation.  

So now you're saying, I want weedless or snag proof! No problem, tubes rigged properly will come through brush and weeds pretty well. You should still expect to lose some hardware, snag proof is just a brand name. When I want to fish weedless I have 2 ways I go about it. Standard Texas rigging, which is what a lot of guys do. Flipping tubes (esp the bigger ones) have padded a few pockets in tourneys. They've seen a skirted jig all weekend, toss em a tube in the same colors... A bullet weight, and EWG hook is all you need to make one "snag resistant." Add a bead for a rattle/clicker. 

But lets say you don't want the bullet weight in front of your tube, ok, then you will need a weight that goes inside the tube. Yamamoto makes a weight that's designed just for this, and it works very well....provided you have the right hook. The issue with these weights is that the go inside the tube all the way to the front, you stick your EWG through as if you were going to TX rig, but instead thread the hook through a hole in the weight and then straight down so it sits on the shaft at the bend. The crucial part of this equation is choosing a hook with a down bend long enough for the yama weight to sit flush against the actual hooks shank. <---- this is critical for the tube to still have that spinning/flat fall that makes smallmouths come unglued on occasion. If you don't get what I'm sayin I can add picks or make a youtube video.

If you're asking what rod and reel you should use, I believe that all depends....If you're fishing a small and shallow stream, you don't need 3/4 oz gobie style jigheads, and thus wont need a MH rod that makes driving those hooks home possible. If you're using light: <1/16oz - 1/8oz heads and small tubes you will get the best casting results with a medium light rod, but might not get good hooksets. 

For a do it all combo: most medium fast action spinning rods will toss 1/8oz to 3/8oz tubes and jigheads without feeling too overloaded while still driving that hook home. Every manufacturer assigns different ratings, so be aware of that, you don't want a noodle rod for this, its just like fishing skirted jigs in many aspects, you need some backbone. Ask anyone who uses tubes, what happens when a hooked smallie comes to the top. Their acrobatics usually send your tube flying sky high or back at you, the more weight you use, the more leverage they CAN get.  

Don't skimp on line either, you're going to be fishing these things in rocks, weeds, wood, so when you snag, you can get some back, or at leas the plastic. I use yo-zuri hybrid (4 and 6lb) which is tough as nails in terms of abrasion resistance and outright breaking strength, but the trade off is a little loss of casting distance compared to braid or light mono, but to get many snags back and drag river bass around with no fear I will take that loss of 5-10 feet casting distance every day. Put some old shoes on and walk out into the river if you need more distance.   

Wall of txt complete. Sorry, I don't always transfer info from brain to screen very well, I could explain a lot better in person.

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On 5/20/2016 at 8:43 AM, mod479 said:

I feel like I could right a book about tube fishing sometimes. The bait is so simple, yet so versatile. If you can fish a skirted jig or a shakeyhead, you can handle a tube. I've been lurking here a long time, I can say I've gotten some great info and I want to give some back, so here goes...

Don't stare at it...it's ugly, but they work, I promise you that. If you had to choose, a tube best imitates bottom dwelling creatures that bass love so much, namely the crayfish, crawdad, mudbug, whatever you want to call them. They do a good job imitating gobies, sunfish, and perch too.  

The tried and true method used to fish a tube jig has been mentioned 100s of times here on bass resource. The drag/drift method. Find rocky structure, drop tube to bottom, let wind or trolling motor take you to the bass. This method is just as possible from shore, but putting jigs uphill = more snags, but I've caught a lot of bass from shore, dragging a tube. You've got to be feeling bottom. If you're not feeling that jig sliding over and bumping into rocks, you're probably not where the (smallmouth) bass are. While you learn this, you'll be setting hooks into rocks, weeds, brush, folding lawn chairs...etc. You'll learn to distinguish bottom contour and compostion like the back of your hand. How'd the pro used to learn a new spot? Dragging a jig around it........ You'll know you're "getting it" when you find yourself setting the hook for what seems like no reason and just like that there's a fish on the line.

First thing to really understand is you ARE going to lose tube jigs, lots of them, get used to it. Put more money into the terminal tackle, get yourself a bunch of the internal jigheads designed for tubes. Make sure you've got some different weights, and get plenty extras if you really want to learn. What weight do I use most? 3/16oz. In some bodies, this isn't even close to enough weight to get to depth. But in most situations, 3/16oz is enough to get to bottom without plowing it like a field, and light enough to give a slow fall or tumble in the current.  I keep a stock of 1/16oz to 1 oz weights. You don't need to go all out immediately... ask yourself: what weights do you use on other baits like a TX rig worm or shakey for where YOU fish? Transfer that knowledge over.   

Don't go out gander and buy a manufacturers entire lineup of tube colors, not necessary. If you catch them on green pumpkin senkos, or watermelon trick worm, whatever, go get yourself that color which you are confident in. Some bodies of waters have hot colors, it is what it is. Know thy waters. If you don't know what color to get, go with good ol' green pumpkin, it imitates many things bass want to eat. If you want another color, get black, melon, white, or smoke. Those 5 colors will produce. Don't worry too much about flakes, if you want flake though, I like blue, purple, orange, or "hologram (multi color.)" I don't think it makes a difference most days, but it gives confidence so there's that.    

With it's bulky body and flailing tentacles, a tube can also resemble baitfish if you fish it the right way. By snapping off the bottom and allowing to fall back (usually spiraling down) you are now imitating a dying baitfish. Sometimes when I run out of jigheads or whatever, I fish them with little or no weight. By jerking erratically and giving slack like a hard body jerkbait, you are again showing them something new (usually.) Some tubes float, some of them sink with no weight added, you have to experiment a bit with this tactic, but in snaggy/shallow rivers, it can be deadly. Lightwire 1/0-3/0 ewg hook. 1/16 oz or less weight will make some tubes suspend just below the surface as you work it back. To add that weight get a piece of suspend strip to wrap around the hook shank or experiment with different hooks until you find one that makes the tube do what you want. Or just let it float, use them as a topwater, don't believe me? See the BPS poppin tube. This is just something they don't see everyday, sometimes it works.  

Want to add some flair to plain jane color tube? Grab a pack of flashabou and tie a few strips to the hook shank or bottom of line tie and let it hang out the back, obviously you have to cut strips longer than the tube to get the desired result.

Scent makes sense with tubes....I like gulp crawfish spray.

A little more on terminal tackle. There's many ways to rig up a tube, and the options are out there to make it easy for you. For a typical 3.5 tube I run a jighead with a 2/0 or 3/0 hook. 4" gets a 4/0. A 2.5" inch mini tubes get something a bit different, I use a darter jighead with a small hook, size 1 or 1/0. Some companies make smaller style heads with stout hooks, but they're harder and harder to find and I'm not about to blow up that connection, do your homework. The little tubes can really be killer some days, just like down sizing with any other presentation.  

So now you're saying, I want weedless or snag proof! No problem, tubes rigged properly will come through brush and weeds pretty well. You should still expect to lose some hardware, snag proof is just a brand name. When I want to fish weedless I have 2 ways I go about it. Standard Texas rigging, which is what a lot of guys do. Flipping tubes (esp the bigger ones) have padded a few pockets in tourneys. They've seen a skirted jig all weekend, toss em a tube in the same colors... A bullet weight, and EWG hook is all you need to make one "snag resistant." Add a bead for a rattle/clicker. 

But lets say you don't want the bullet weight in front of your tube, ok, then you will need a weight that goes inside the tube. Yamamoto makes a weight that's designed just for this, and it works very well....provided you have the right hook. The issue with these weights is that the go inside the tube all the way to the front, you stick your EWG through as if you were going to TX rig, but instead thread the hook through a hole in the weight and then straight down so it sits on the shaft at the bend. The crucial part of this equation is choosing a hook with a down bend long enough for the yama weight to sit flush against the actual hooks shank. <---- this is critical for the tube to still have that spinning/flat fall that makes smallmouths come unglued on occasion. If you don't get what I'm sayin I can add picks or make a youtube video.

If you're asking what rod and reel you should use, I believe that all depends....If you're fishing a small and shallow stream, you don't need 3/4 oz gobie style jigheads, and thus wont need a MH rod that makes driving those hooks home possible. If you're using light: <1/16oz - 1/8oz heads and small tubes you will get the best casting results with a medium light rod, but might not get good hooksets. 

For a do it all combo: most medium fast action spinning rods will toss 1/8oz to 3/8oz tubes and jigheads without feeling too overloaded while still driving that hook home. Every manufacturer assigns different ratings, so be aware of that, you don't want a noodle rod for this, its just like fishing skirted jigs in many aspects, you need some backbone. Ask anyone who uses tubes, what happens when a hooked smallie comes to the top. Their acrobatics usually send your tube flying sky high or back at you, the more weight you use, the more leverage they CAN get.  

Don't skimp on line either, you're going to be fishing these things in rocks, weeds, wood, so when you snag, you can get some back, or at leas the plastic. I use yo-zuri hybrid (4 and 6lb) which is tough as nails in terms of abrasion resistance and outright breaking strength, but the trade off is a little loss of casting distance compared to braid or light mono, but to get many snags back and drag river bass around with no fear I will take that loss of 5-10 feet casting distance every day. Put some old shoes on and walk out into the river if you need more distance.   

Wall of txt complete. Sorry, I don't always transfer info from brain to screen very well, I could explain a lot better in person.

Juice bass, there you have it. that's about as comprehensive as it gets. If your not fishing tubes for smallies then you probably should be. In fact they catch everything. I've caught SMB, LMB, freshwater drum, carp, rainbow trout, brown trout, catfish, golden eye ,northern pike etc. I believe if it swims it will probably eat a tube.  Mod 479, I might add a few things, when going weedless I don't use a Yama weight. I use a simple old teardrop sinker w/ the twisted wire top.Insert the sinker in wire first, Feed the EWG hookeye through the tube and wire loop and back out and tex pose the hook  it like normal. Works just as well and cheaper than buying special weights. Also another way to fish a tube is on a drop shot rig. Works well when you run out of senkos. Tight Lines

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On ‎5‎/‎22‎/‎2016 at 4:33 PM, 1simplemann said:

Juice bass, there you have it. that's about as comprehensive as it gets. If your not fishing tubes for smallies then you probably should be. In fact they catch everything. I've caught SMB, LMB, freshwater drum, carp, rainbow trout, brown trout, catfish, golden eye ,northern pike etc. I believe if it swims it will probably eat a tube.  Mod 479, I might add a few things, when going weedless I don't use a Yama weight. I use a simple old teardrop sinker w/ the twisted wire top.Insert the sinker in wire first, Feed the EWG hookeye through the tube and wire loop and back out and tex pose the hook  it like normal. Works just as well and cheaper than buying special weights. Also another way to fish a tube is on a drop shot rig. Works well when you run out of senkos. Tight Lines

Yeah, after re reading, I see where I could make some edits. But anyways, the technique you mentioned of internal weights is the original and easiest, eagle claw used to offer weights under Shaw Grigsbys name that were basically tear drop "bass casting" sinkers designed to fit inside a slim tube. There's used to be an old movie on Youtube of Shaw fishing this exact setup on that super clear river in Florida, I cant find it now. probably filmed 25-30 years ago, but the information is still relevant.     

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Well, there you have it.  That's probably the most comprehensive tube "how to" I've ever read.  Thank you @mod479!

 

As for "when"... Tubes are nearly a year round bait and can be fished effectively in 85% of conditions. They belong in mention with a skirted jig or t-rigged worm as far as versatility and effectiveness, especially for smallmouth.  To simplify, if you match the basic size and colors of forage, you can catch both size and numbers.

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They work well for largemouth too, even though this is a smallmouth thread.  If your in some thicker vegetation, try a skip gap hook and get the hook right up against the outside wall of the tube so its snag less.  I usually add a small bullet weight to the line in front for weight since most tubes are hollow and will not sink on their own.  You can skip a tube wonderfully under a dock too because of its flat sides.

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Is a tube basically the smallmouth equivalent of a 6" plastic worm as that bait relates to largemouth?

I have tried tubes several times for largemouth with no luck. I think I just don't have the confidence in it like a worm or craw.

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Not really.  We catch LMB on T-rigged tubes all the time.

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13 hours ago, the reel ess said:

Is a tube basically the smallmouth equivalent of a 6" plastic worm as that bait relates to largemouth?

I have tried tubes several times for largemouth with no luck. I think I just don't have the confidence in it like a worm or craw.

It's probably just a confidence thing.  Start thinking of your tubes as crayfish imitations like you would a beaver bait, Rage craw, or Speed craw.  Hell, if you want a fast dropping flipping/punching combo, T-rig a 3.5-5" tube on a straight shank flipping hook with a bullet/punch weight. 

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On May 16, 2016 at 0:04 PM, Choporoz said:

I like to bounce them with these heads: http://www.powerteamlures.com/fct-jig-heads/

I, too, fish for smallies in rivers.  I can't operate a drop shot in current for nothing....I go through a half dozen weights per fish.  These tube heads, on the other hand seem to laugh at rocks

Are you inserting them?

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11 hours ago, Delaware Valley Tackle said:

Are you inserting them?

Yes.  They are perfect fit for PT tubes.  Just this weekend, however, the smallies were looking for a slimmer tube and the PT heads were a little fat, so I had to downsize to some jig heads that I didn't like nearly as much. 

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Fish tubes alot. Best way to insert lead head jig is backwards of what your probably thinking. Don't insert head of jig up from bottom of the tube. Insert hook into head of the tube about 1/8 inch down (leave enough room for the jig head above the hole and then some), then run the hook all the way out the hollow part of tube pulling the jig head into the hole made with the hook point until just the line tie sticks out. Wetting the jig head will allow it to slide in the hole made by hook without tearing the tube up. Doing this way allows you to 1. use hooks with weed gaurds, and 2. change tubes without retying.

I think the action you get with a lead head jig is much better than t-rig. It falls in a circle just like a dying baitfish.

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On 7/11/2016 at 11:53 AM, bagofdonuts said:

 

I think the action you get with a lead head jig is much better than t-rig. It falls in a circle just like a dying baitfish.

It also imitates a craw scooting backwards when popped. It's a great alternative to 'stupid' rigging although the action on the fall is different. It will 'back up' when falling on slack line getting it under the edges of docks and overhangs you can't skip under because they're too close to the water's surface.

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I've fished tube jigs for smallies a bunch of different ways.  My two favorite and most productive are the Gitzit 1/4 oz jig head in most depths and "weightless" in shallow water 2-6' deep or for bank beating.  Weightless is in quotes because i shove a broken 5" senko chunk into the tube cavity to give it some weight, then use a hook designed for weightless tube jigs.  

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FWIW, I go to a great smallie lake in early August of every year (we leave this Saturday AM, hooray!)... I *kill* them every year on the Yamamoto Fat Ikas - which I discovered on this site and are effectively a solid-poured tube.  Fish them sorta like a jig.  Weightless and pitched/cast into brush, weed edges, or rocks.

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*Update

Tubes are now my favourite small mouth bass bait!!

i went out with some guys who were throwing them and we're doing well on it. So I decided to throw one on and caught ALL day! They gave me some pointers and I had a blast fishing it. It reminds me of fishing jigs for largies, same big hookset.

sometimes I find seeing someone else catching off a lure helps confidence for someone who's not used to throwing it. I caught my PB this weekend and gonna go stalk up my tube collection, great fun!

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At some of the lakes I fish that hold a good small mouth population there is a transitional period where the fish focus less on shad and become much more interested in crawdads.   During this period tube fishing becomes very good,    I generally fish a tube in much the same way I would a jig, it has produced some good fish over the last several years.

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Just add... I don't fish traditional tubes, but I fish the Ika-type baits (solid, plastic tube) all the time.  They are seemingly irresistible for smallies and pressured largemouth up here.

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