What ways do you rig tubes?
Response by Joe Haubenreich (TNBass) - Dated 3/29/2000

(Note: This article was originally posted privately to Warren Funk's question about using tube baits, as shown below)

TNBass - if you have the time to respond on a personal, I'd appreciate it. I fish in a small lake in No. Cal. It's probably 5 acres or less, and is a great bass fishery. Deepest water is about 40'. A pro told me he thought there would be bass in it up to 18 pounds. It is fairly clear, has lots of moss (hydrilla and a couple of other varieties). In a cove about 200' x 300', the moss comes up within a foot or two of the surface, from a bottom which may be 10 or 12' deep. The water there is very clear. I have to use fairly heavy line because my experience in this cove is that they will take a surface lure and be in the heavy moss before I can start them toward the canoe. I think the tube would be a great lure in this cove. I have several, both hollow and solid, varieties. I've not used one before. How do you rig them? Texas style? Do you use weight? Carolina Rigs? How do you fish them? Fast, slow, erratic? What colors? The largest bass I've taken there was about 6 1/2 lbs on a crankbait, but when the moss is heaviest (late summer) it's pretty thick to use a crankbait in. I think a tube would be ideal, if I can find out how to fish it.

    Tubes are perfect for the conditions you described, especially in their ability to come through moss without picking up a load of salad on each pass.

    Tube jigs have been around for awhile, but they made their way eastward and south only during the mid-'80s. It's probably the best sight lure ever developed, mimicking crayfish, shad, darters, and bluegill. The split tail continues to quiver when fished on a tight line even when you hold your rod still, just from the motion of your boat and water currents. And it can be modified in a number of ways, which I'll mention below.

    One problem with tube jigs is that they're so soft. The hollow body tears pretty easily and the hole opens up so it slides down the hook shaft unless it's glued or clipped into place. I almost always fish one Texas rigged, using #3/0 Eagle Claw's High Performance hooks. That model has a little wire clip at the eye that prevents a bait from slipping down the shank. I insert the point at the top and exit about a quarter inch off one side. When I slide the tube up to the eye and rotate it so the point is toward the body, the clip can be folded down and hooked onto the shaft, capturing the eye right up against the end of the jig. It's not necessary to bury the eye in the top of the jig head, and I seldom do it, since tube jigs are so soft it pulls right back out within a couple of casts.

    Next, I lay the hook alongside the jig to note the entry and exit points. I'll want the hook to emerge with the barb section lying right up against the body. Then I bunch the lure up and push the point in one side and out the other. When I hold the lure by the line, it should hang straight -- much easier with a tube jig than with a plastic worm. The last step, if I'm going to be fishing around cover, vegetation, or chunk rock, is to pull the tube up slightly toward the eye and slip the point of the hook just under the plastic skin. I run my finger down to make sure the point is slightly buried, but not so deeply that a good chomp by a hungry bass won't expose it.

    In the situation you described, I'd fish the tube jig without any bullet weight. It will fall slowly with an erratic, spiral pattern similar to that of a soft jerk bait (like a Sluggo or Shadow). Slight twitches with your rod tip will cause it to dip, pause, dart, and shimmy in a way that will attract the attention of any bass nearby. (Not to say they'll always be impressed -- if you note real bass forage, they don't much go in for all that shimmy and shake stuff, so usually I just try to put minimum action on the bait.)

    Usually, I use 3-1/2 inch tube jigs with 1/32 ounce bullet weights. If I need additional weigh to get more distance on my casts or to quickly take the bait down to the structure where bass are holding, I'll put on a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce bullet weight.

    For night fishing (and it is a very good night lure for slow, bottom presentations, despite its compact size), I will also add a glass bead between the sinker and the hook eye. Since I don't bury the eye, I get a satisfying click with every jiggle and jump of the rod tip.

    For night fishing, I always use black with red fleck 3-1/2 to 4 inch tube jigs. I'll use the same color for muddy and during very dark, overcast or rainy weather. But for clear weather and water, I switch to a smoke or pearl tube jig, both with metal flecks.

    I've tried the smaller PowerTubes by Berkley, and although I'm a firm believer in the fish attractant giving them longer holding time, I don't think that's as much a factor in tube jigs as with worms. Since I'm such a confirmed line watcher, day or night, and usually keep a little tension on my line, I doubt I miss too many strikes. And if I stick with just two or three colors, I never have trouble making up my mind or finding the right bait in the dark of the night.

Some guys in the news group really like to use them Carolina-rigged, but I believe there are better soft baits for that -- especially Sluggo-type baits. When Carolina rig fishing, I keep the bait moving along pretty quickly. The tube jig is best suited for a twitch -- pause -- flutter down -- quiver -- twitch retrieve than a rapid, swimming motion.

    Here are a few techniques I've tried with varying success. Add them to your bag of tricks; they might just turn a nice day on the lake into a newspaper story for you:

  1. Rig it on a stand-up or a slider jig head. When I use a ball head or slider jig head, I push the head up into the body all the way and poke the eye through the side so I can tie on. (I usually squirt some fish attractant in first to lubricate the lure and trap some attractant in the tip.) To make it fall in a wider spiral, only push the jig head in a little more than half-way and bring the eye out about a third of the way down the body from the tip. The hook comes out between the tentacles in either case. Not recommended for fishing in the weeds and moss or brush, though. But in clean-bottom areas, the exposed hook does result in more hook-ups. For stand-up jig heads, I rig them like I would in Texas rigging, but I use Super Glue to keep the tube jig in place.
  2. Use the clip-on high performance internal weights (Quick Clips or Tube Weights) to achieve a more streamlined appearance. Available in 1/32, 1/16, and 1/8 ounce sizes, hey have a large eye through which you pass the hook on your initial insertion into the top of the tube. They . A tube with an internal weight tends to spiral down more rapidly than one with no weight, in sort of a tight cork-screw.
  3. If you Carolina-rig your tube for fishing deep structure, try sticking a little piece of Styrofoam in the body before inserting the hook to give the bait some buoyancy. I always carry a half dozen of those little packing pellets in a recycled plastic snuff can along with some glass beads, HP hooks, and quarter-ounce weights. I keep it in my pocket when night fishing to make it easier to find the fixing's when I break off and have to rig up again.
  4. I like to dip the tips of the tentacles in chartreuse or orange plastic bait dye. Makes me feel like I'm doing something clever, and it doesn't seem to bother the fish. Hey, it might even help, although I doubt it's the most important factor in getting bit.
  5. To increase the flutter and make the bait spiral down faster, try pinching off several of the tentacles instead of adding weight.
  6. I squirt Real Craw on and inside the tube jig every ten casts or so. If you squirt it full and then plug it with a little section from an old plastic worm, the attractant will leak out through the holes made by the hook and emits the taste when a bass chomps down on the bait. A guy I knew used little pieces of cotton the same way -- dousing it with attractant and then poking it inside the body. It seemed to hold the scent longer than none at all, and he claimed it didn't interfere with the bass crushing the tube to expose the hook like a worm plug might.
  7. Two other tricks that use worm-bit plugs: Crush an Alka-seltzer tablet in the packet, tear off the top, and every so often drop a piece into the tube and plug it. It will fizzle and foam in the water just like a .... rabid minnow? I don't know what.... but so many people told me this "secret" that I tried it twice -- with zero results. (I put it in a category with "glow-in-the-dark" beads -- something you just don't see in nature, more for fishermen than fish --- but who knows, maybe California bass are a little kinky ;-) The other worm-plug trick is to drop a few bb's in the tube before plugging it, or just insert a worm rattle or two in the worm section to give the tube jig a little more crayfish-clicking noise in the water. Bass Pro Shop sells EPS Tube Rattles that can be pushed inside the tube up above an internal jig head -- that looks like a winner to me.
  8. Slip a slender spoon, like a Johnson Silver Minnow, inside the body. The flattened tube conforms to the spoon, and on retrieves, it flutters and glides like a spoon, but the tentacles and soft feel of the bait might make a tentative bass hang on a little longer. I've tried this a few times, but not enough to form an opinion on its effectiveness. Might be perfect for wobbling right above the moss this summer.

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