Tube fishing basics


  As many of you know I am a tube fanatic. It is my confidence bait. When the bite gets tough this is the bait I go to. The reason I think tubes are so effective is they simulate several types of forage at the same time. A tube can resemble a crawfish, or some form of baitfish. There are several types of tubes and countless tube manufacturers.  I have my own favorite tubes and they are made by Nichols Baits. As far as colors I use a variety of colors to match the forage that the fish are feeding on. If the fish are feeding on shad I値l use a blue shad pepper tube or a smoke with black pepper and dip the tails lightly in chartreuse. If the primary forage is crawfish Ill turn over rocks and look at the crawfish in the shallows and use tubes that mimic them. Usually I end up with a shade of green or brown with the tail dipped in orange, red, or chartreuse. I feel the better you can match the hatch the more strikes you値l get. I like the Nichols tubes as they are durable and seem to have more salt than comparable tubes.

       I rig my tubes several different ways according to where I知 fishing and the primary cover.  If I am fishing around heavy wood I値l usually Texas rig my tube. I try to not peg my sinker to allow the sinker to fall away from the bait when the fish picks it up, but if I need the sinker to stay close to the bait to get it to fall exactly where I want it to Ill use a rattling Florida sinker with the screw in weight or a rubber peg-it. My favorite way to rig a tube bait is to use a tube head jig head with an exposed hook. The exposed hook on this rig will stick some of those fish that mouth a bait and spit it out without the angler feeling the pick-up. Another plus to rigging your tube this way is the ability for the bait to be easily skipped up under a dock or low hanging branch. If you are skipping the tube under a lot of low hanging branches you may opt to use a lead head tube jig with a single strand wire guard to offer some weedlessness. One last way I rig a tube is with a Nichols Bait Company Toothpick Jig head. I usually rig my 5-inch tubes like this when I知 fishing a heavily pressured lake with a lot of heavy cover or am fishing behind other boats who are using a jig-n-pig. The tooth pick jig head has a small hole in the collar of the head to allow a person to insert a toothpick thru the tube, into the hole in the collar, and out the other side of the tube. All you need to do then is take a pair of side cutters and trim off the edges, drown it in Kick-n-Bass and go to work.

        About 90 percent of the time I pitch my tube on either spinning equipment or bait casting equipment. For spinning equipment I use wither a 66 G-Loomis GLX medium heavy action paired with a Shimano Stradic spooled with 6# or 8# clear CXX P-line or a G-Loomis GLX 66 heavy action pitching stick paired with a Shimano Chronarch and 12# or 15# clear P-line. I also use a J.R.s 60 custom made spinning rod paired with a Shimano Stradic for weed less tube head jigs to skip up under low hanging trees or boat docks. Once you have decided on what color tube matches the forage, equipment, and rigging method its time to drown that little tube. There are several ways to fish a tube with a few specific tactics being my favorite. Once you have found an area that should be holding fish you値l need to determine the depth of the fish to get the bait in the strike zone efficiently. For Example 1 well use a shallow water structure target with current. Usually when fish are in a pattern like this you will find them on the down streamside of the target in the eddy that the current makes. They like to hide here awaiting forage to ambush. If you are fishing a clear water environment you can do a little trick I like to do that I call rounding the target. With some practice you can effectively make a semi-circle with your pitch to actually pitch 殿round where you think the fish is lying. I like for my bait to appear beside the fish and almost surprise the fish rather than the fish being possibly spooked by seeing something fly directly over top of them and then landing beside them. When you round the bait you want the lure to make a semi-circle behind the way you feel the fish is pointed and enter the water with minimal water disturbance, appearing beside the fish. Once the bait has entered the water allow the bait to fall on a slack line. You may need to feed line from the reel to the bait to ensure that it falls exactly where you targeted. Once the bait is there you値l need to feel the fish out and see what mood they are in. If they are in a aggressive mood all you may need to do is flip or pitch the bait to the target, shake it and if they don稚 bust it then pitch to another target. If the fish are pressured or sluggish it may take you making the bait move in little hops or shaking the bait next to the structure. Once a fish picks it up don稚 get in a hurry. If you池e using a quality tube like a Nichols tube with a high salt concentration and a good scent/flavor like Kick-n-Bass they will hold onto the bait. Point the rod at the fish, reel down and set the hook hard. Most of the time I move the fish out of whatever cover they are in on the hook set unless it痴 a grown up and then the fight is on! One other example topic well discuss will be a deeper water structure pattern. Lets say you have a brush pile in 12 to 15 foot of water with baitfish in the mix of things. Use what color tube is going to closest match the forage and make an under hand pitch with spinning equipment beyond the target. Let the bait fall on a slack line, carefully watching your line for any hint that a fish is going to pick it up, and allow the bait to rest on the bottom for a few seconds before you move it. A lot of times fish will follow it to the bottom and pick it up after it has not moved for a few seconds. Once the bait has sat on the bottom for a few seconds pick up your rod tip and swim the bait up off the bottom. You want to use a pick up/fall retrieve until the bait reaches the brush pile. Once the bait is at the brush pile work it slowly through the brush pile allowing it to fall into the brush pile repeatedly. This may require you opening the bail on your spinning reel to help the lure fall into the brush pile. Most guys I致e seen fish like this work the outside and top of the brush pile not allowing their bait to fall within the structure. I can稚 tell you how many times I have been scuba diving and witnessed several nice fish buried up inside a brush pile. Once you work the bait out of the structure allow it to hit the bottom again. Of nothing picks it up shake it some and then work it back to the boat with a pick up/fall technique.

       A tube bait is an extremely versatile tool to use to locate and catch fish. In this article we have merely touched the surface of what the capabilities of this bait can do and to write about every way to fish a tube would take more time than I have. If you have specific question about a tube fishing technique please feel free to contact me. If you would like information on any of the products I use when I tube fish give me a shout and Ill pass along web addresses and contact information. Thank you for taking some of your time and spending it here. Tight lines, Ken Nance.

    Ken Nance is sponsored by Triton Boats, Mason Dixon Marine and Polaris, Sliding Weight Company, Kick'n Bassョ Fish Attractants, Silverbuddy, Eat-em-up Bait Company, J.R.s Custom Rods, Caps Tackle, Susky Bugs, Bonzai Bait Company, Cabin Creek Bait Company and Nichols Bait Company.

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