We all know how effective tubes fished on internal weighted heads can be. The fact is that if you only use them this way, you are seriously preventing yourself from unlocking 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 scored well for me in my finesse bag of tricks. This rig mixes sexy tubes, scent and sound to form a complete package of bass grabbing attention.
Equipment: I prefer a 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 with a split Tennessee handle. This rod provides me with light overall weight and a soft tip but also the brute gorilla strength and backbone to yank larger bass out of hellish snarls and towards the boat. Not finesse fishing you say? Well consider that I normally use 8lb line and occasionally 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 2000. This reel is as dependable as they come. It combines a quick gear ratio and solid anti reverse to play a big part in quick powerful hook sets and the winching ability to move fish fast.
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. These are simply shorter, wider sliding bullet weights that are 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 TTi 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, thus creating a racket, sometimes attracting fish to the tube. The fire polished, faceted glass beads are super hard and will not cut or fray 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. It is the finest scented and salted tube anywhere. Fish do not hold on to the bait, they eat it. This tube is double dipped in a salt impregnated plastic mix and then Kick N Bass scent is added to the plastic before the tubes are dipped. 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 within the last several years. A double dipped tube increases the durability of the bait and it is possible to catch several fish without tearing the bait up.
If you have been paying attention so far, you will notice that this rig employs sight, scent, taste, and sound to tantalize Mr. Bass. If you’ve ever fished with the Wicked Tube you surely have 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. This is a quad dipped tube that is extremely durable and adds insane bulk. It is a truly different spin on the Flipping type tube and I think that is why it works well for me, not too many other anglers throw it regularly because it isn’t readily available. Gordo’s size alone may intimidate some. I’ve noticed it catches bigger fish as well. This tube is pretty much the same size as a standard tube in length, maybe about ½ an inch longer. Its diameter is what sets it apart from the rest. I noticed that many flipping tubes were simply longer versions of standard tubes. They were like tube worms and I didn’t think that would help me when flipping. I created a bulkier tube to attract larger fish.
Colors: I prefer the following colors; Green Pumpkin, Black Grape, Water Melon Magic(watermelon purple), 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. Unless you just fell off of the turnip truck, you likely have already heard about RoadKill Camo. If you haven’t, I advise you to give this color tube a serious look. In my opinion, this color has been the best color for three or four seasons. It has a legendary following in the North East and in states like Tennessee and Kentucky. It is THAT good.
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 isn’t 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 doesn’t have to penetrate the extra plastic in the tube, thus sticks into the fishes’ mouth with minimal effort. The photo shows the placement of the weight and bead and the proper position for the Tex-posed hook point coming through the tube.
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 don’t feel the bait at all which means a bass has picked it up and is usually moving off with it.
The Presentation: This tube is very effective in 8ft of water or less. Its light weight won’t allow it to be fished effectively much beyond that depth. Because it is weed less, it can be fished just about anywhere and if you add a heavier weight, you can surely probe the depths with it. I prefer docks, boathouses, any overhead cover, inlet points, and flats. Of course the rig will work anywhere provided shallow 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 weighted and fall throughout 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 don’t use bait casting gear. Flipping and pitching are not accurate ways to present 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 taught line because very often the bait is struck just as it enters the water. If I don’t 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 don’t 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 won’t 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 might also be able to feather a skip cast to put the bait right on the target. The 1/16 oz weight won’t 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 attempting to make it sound off.
The Bite: Many tube bites simply feel like a mushy wet rag on the end of the line. 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 don’t 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 essentially weightless and the bass doesn’t 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 don’t spit the tube out. They just don’t.
Seasons: The Texas rig tube excels during the early spring and in 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 doesn’t give off many, if any, negative cues. Rigged with a glass bead, it appeals to all bass senses’. 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 2500/2000
- Line: Yo Zuri Hybrid 8lb
- Hook: Sugoi or TTi 2/0 or 3/0 EWG
- Tube: Micro Munch Tackle Wicked Tube 4"
- Terminal: Top Brass Tackle Brass Weenie weight and fire polished faceted Glass bead both black
Alternatives: 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 won’t 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.
I sometimes use a Mojo weight, which is a cylindrical weight that has the diameter of an OTB pencil. This works better around rocks and pea gravel. Mojo rig a 2 ¾" Mini tube with a small EWG hook. The tube shimmies back and forth far behind the weight. It is a unique look that fish just don’t see all that often. As far as tubes are concerned you only need these colors: Black/Red, Junebug, Watermelon, Green Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Smoke/Purple Flake, and Pearl. As of this writing, Micro Munch Tackle has just introduced a 2.75" Wicked Tube mini that is deadly for stream smallies and cold water largemouth. You could also try your luck for slab crappies with them. After fishing with this tube for nearly two complete seasons, I have come to believe it is the finest small tube out there. All of the characteristics that made the larger tubes successful are in this smaller "Turd".
You can also experience success with a split shot rig and the small tube. You might want to go for a thinner tube profile for these bottom dragging techniques. This little split shot rig can be an explosive method to load the boat.
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 an especially important approach to guys who do not prefer to throw a jig. If you learn to adapt the bait to ever changing conditions, you’ll soon notice that impaling this bait on a lead head is not the only way to fish it.