Some relationships come and go, but others stand the test of time. The relationship between smallmouth bass and tubes is one for the long haul.
Regardless of where you fish (southern reservoirs, northern natural lakes or the Great Lakes), if there are smallmouth in the fishery, they will eat a tube.
Why smallmouth have such a sweet tooth for tubes is up for debate – some say they mimic gobies while others say crayfish. What matters most: For those chasing bronze, having a tube tied on is a must. Here’s how to maximize it.
Just as its name states, a tube is a tube of soft plastic with one end cut into a bunch of little tails, making it look similar to a squid. Tubes come in many variations, with some being long and narrow while others are bulkier and stouter, but their general anatomy doesn’t change.
While there are various ways to rig a tube, your best bet for catching smallmouth is to use a tube jig. This is a single hook with a narrow piece of lead cast near the eyelet. You slide the jig up the rear of the tube until it meets the nose, press the eyelet through the soft plastic so it sticks out the top, and then tie up and go.
Tubes in Action
The action of a tube in the water is irresistible to smallmouth. Because the eyelet pokes out of the top of the tube instead of straight through the nose, the tube darts, zigs, zags and flutters every time you pop it off the bottom. Cast it out, let it sink to the bottom and gradually hop it back to the boat. It’s an aggressive presentation that elicits aggressive strikes from an already aggressive fish, be it out of hunger or a reaction strike.
If the fish seem to be in a funk and aren’t going for your tube, don’t overlook trying a simple dragging technique. While the open hook is liable to get hung up if fishing this way in heavy cover, for the most part tubes are pretty great at getting in and out of rocks. So, don’t be afraid to drag them for a subtle offering and different presentation.
In the end, there’s really no wrong way to fish a tube. After all, a smallmouth’s love for them is forever.