Upon doing some more research on what my quarry loves to eat I've fallen back to using more browns, greens and reds during the day. What can resist a well placed meal of crustaceans? My favorite color combinations tend to stick with brown/pumpkins with various flakes during the day and smoke during the night. I've been doing well with 3.5" mainly because that's the size that is readily available to me. I've fished a little with some 4.5" and see them as promising but don't really have much to show for them yet since I haven't been fishing them too much.
Their size and vague profile allow them to be mistaken as an errant crustacean (shrimp, craw, crab, lobster) and baitfish (goby and vairous brownbaits, small opaleye/perch/helpless small fish depending on colors).
Since i've been beating the bank mostly, I've fallen in favor of using 1/8oz heads with my tubes due to shallower water. I had to keep in mind that I want my bait to be seen as long as possible before landing on the bottom. Also, the 1/8oz is less snaggy for me since I've been fishing rocky areas. There are many varieties of heads available. From super shad heads, ball heads and even tear drops. These all play a role in how the bait behaves when you work it. I paid attention to how the line tie is orientated as well (90* or 60*, front leaning vs further back).
If you are using a 60* line tie front weighted jig head (ie ball head and tear drop) you increase the rate of fall. Pretty nice when you are fishing deeper water instead of waiting forever for the bait to meander its way down into the depths. With this style of eye, you tend to bounce off snags a little better than a 90* eye.
There are even jigs that are rigged for 0*. The line tie points straight forward and comes out at the tip of the tube, this is more for swimming the tube in my opinion than anything else.
Here's where things get interesting. Some people swear that a simple lift and drop of your rod tip is sufficient in strike generation. There is little doubt that the fall of a tube bait is enticing, especially if it is rigged to allow a slow deliberate one. 90* "evenly" weighted jig heads allowed me to really have that slow death circle action. In fact, I've been preached to by people telling me that this method is the ONLY way you should fish a tube.
In my opinion, the beauty of a tube is that it is not a one trick pony so you should not overlook its potential. The flailing little tentacles allow it do to a lot.
Instead of a lift drop action, a brisk sweeping motion will give it an erratic escaping meal look. Throw in some twitches and the bait really looks panicked as though it has been flushed from a hiding place. The tentacles will flare out and close up again with the twitches, emulating an octopus or squid pretty well as well. (stroking a tube bait)
A good sharp twitch on the bottom gives it a good darting action along the bottom. Looks very much like running bait (goby/craw) going from cover to cover. (snapping a tube bait).
Realistically, you can even work these baits like flukes. They have a pretty good "walk the dog" action on the retrieve so honestly, there is no wrong way to work them.
I'm sure there are many more methods, the folks that fish the Great Lakes for their smallies have a LOT of good info about their tube techniques! I'm very confident that they will carry over to our harbor bass.
The big draw back is their exposed hook. I've had sessions where I spent too much time pulling off grass or trying to unsnag them from something. I haven't had a chance to texas rig them yet so maybe that will be in the future?
I've done well with the tubes in the salt and they may end up replacing my swimbaits as the go-to bait when I'm on my float tube. One thing for sure is that I now carry a pack or two every time I go out to stalk structure fish.
What hasn't really worked for me is fishing these in open water. All of my fish have been structure oriented so maybe I need to fish some flats to see how they fair in generating strikes?
Feel free to chime in everyone with your opinion.
**so it's been about a full month since I've wrote this stuff down and needless to say, I'm sold on them. I've racked up a good fish count to be confident enough to use them over anything else. However, here are some things I learned in the last month.
I'm actually fishing a 3/16oz head. I made a trip to bass pro and picked up heads in the 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2 sizes. When I got home, I noticed there was a significant less amount of lead on the 1/8 heads from bass pro vs what I'm using but, its about the same amount of lead as the 1/4 from bass pro. I open up my other box with 1/4oz heads from another brand and notice that the heads do not match. I dug out a food scale and weighed them. My old heads were ~0.18oz along with the bass pro heads. The third brand heads were 0.25! so, a word of warning: not all brands will tell you the correct weight.
Light wire hooks might seem like a horrible idea, but they can be a money saver. I used heavy duty heads with hooks and lose a lot more to snags than light wire. I'm prone to bending them out and saving everything instead of trying to bring up bottom. Just always remember to check the point after every snag and make sure your hook is bent back to its correct position. I have not had a hook straighten on a fish yet.
Knowing your lure's feel goes a long way. I've lost more than a few fish because I didn't recognize a pressure bite or thought it was some grass. My lure feels different if I get into some grass, hook into a bag or dragging along something else from the bottom. To be honest, pressure bites feel like hooking into a bag. I've done many a mighty hook set on bags.
Color doesn't seem to matter too much...at night at least. I'm twitching/hopping/gliding the bait on the bottom. When I took a look at its action by working it in my pool, it really looks like a craw/shrimp/goby. We all know they come in all sorts of colors. Scent didn't seem to make too much a difference either. But then again, all of the tubes I'm using have salt.
Dont be afraid to work an area thoroughly. If the conditions are appropriate, there can be a surprising amount of fish to be caught by simply fan casting and staying put. Side note: be confident in working drifts...my best was six fish back to back working the same current eddy. Hell, if I know the area is fishy to begin with, I'd still fish it during slack tides or sub optimal conditions. The action isn't as good, but you'll be surprised to still scratch out a few fish by making minor adjustments as fishing a little deeper/shallower depending on the tide or the next staging area close by.
Lastly, don't forget to have good leader material. I've been bit off too many times. Even the small fish sometimes like to absolutely CHOKE the bait. I ran with 10, upped to 12. One night, I went up to 25lb floro because I got bit off four times. I may stay with 15/17lb floro but I believe the lighter line gives the lure better action/feel. Make sure you check your line (especially up to 10" from your lure) for abrasions often, after every fish ideally. a simple retie can save you the heartbreak of losing a good fish.
So apparently, there are going to be a LOT of options in the near future for the salt water tube style baits. Basstrix is pushing their old design and it seems like a few other companies are getting ready to develop them as well.
Check out this video on youtube!!! It's boat fishing of course and they're using heavier tubes, but its very informative on how they are using them and what action they are getting out of their tubes!!
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Wow, I've been fishing these things for almost a solid year already.
After fishing with several members on their tubes and spying on their methods, I am a good believer in dragging the tube as well now. Just a slow wind in will drive some fish nuts.
Starting to get the hang of fishing flats better, instead of twitching away, I use a longer stroke to cover more water. I don't have a fish finder so I assume its more of a fine substrate with grass on the bottom than rock piles. I want to cover more water faster until I get some signs that I can slow down and twitch to my heart's content.
I now use 20lb flouro leader minimum starting in January. I got my heart broken too many times either from bite offs or frayed line due to fish digging in the rocks. So far, I have no noticeable drop in bites. I no longer live in wonder, trying to figure out what I lost...for now lol
Last edited by kin on Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:18 pm; edited 10 times in total