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SNEAKY TRICKS How To Fish A Tube [21+ Tube Rig Fishing Tips On When, How, and Where]

What Is A Tube Bait? | How To Fish A Tube For Bass?

Are you finding it hard to fish a tube? Fishing a tube is luckily relatively easy to get into. It is not a technique that has a high barrier to entry and requires a ton of new gear to purchase, at least for getting out on a day on the lake. The one-piece of indispensable gear is selecting the right tube for the job. Try fishing with a lure that’s too big, too small, falls too slow (or too fast)! You could be left with catching nothing, getting your lure hung up, or faced with a painful arm after fishing with a lure that is just not performing, or worse! In our fishing blueprint, we breakdown everything you need to know about fishing a tube, the different types, colors, proper hooks, knowing when and where to fish it, what kind of gear – EVERYTHING to give you the best chances of success. This article helps you identify the factors that are most vital to you so that you can start catching fish quickly and easily.

It may look like a simplistic bait, but a tube is one of the most effective choices for luring in smallmouth and largemouth bass into biting, thanks to the unpredictable movement of the bait as it darts and glides in the water.  Tube baits are the go-to option when dealing with tough conditions, as the movement of the tail can closely resemble a crawfish or shad.

But be warned! Go through the following guide slowly and carefully to learn how to fish a tube lure for bass.

What Is A Tube Bait For Bass?

Below is a brief description of a tube bait and it’s basic features. If you feel comfortable with this topic, scroll to the next section.

A tube bait is a type of soft plastic lure with a hollowed-out interior and a cylindrical shape that mostly imitates a crawfish. The back end of the tube is open and includes multiple little tentacles that trail behind.

The small tentacles float and wiggle around in the water whether the tube bait is sinking, sitting still, or being reeled in during retrieval. 

The hollow opening at the back end of the tube also adds to the action of the lure. The opening traps air, which increases the buoyancy of the tube bait.

A tube bait is designed to be used with a tube jig head. The jig heads come in various weights and styles, typically ranging from 1/16-ounce to 1/2-ounce.

What Does a Tube Bait Imitate and Why Would a Fish Bite it?

A tube can resemble many different things in nature, that’s why they’re so versatile.  They can resemble:

  • Shad, herring, or a fat minnow
  • Bluegill, bream, perch, or goby
  • A fleeing crawfish
  • A big leech

If fished higher in the water column, a tube bait tends to resemble a dead or dying baitfish, bluegill, or shad as it descends and spirals toward the bottom of the lake. The spiraling motion is caused by the pocket of air in the back end of the lure, along with the shape of the lure and position of the tube weight. 

If it’s fished close to the bottom or around the vegetation, it can glide extremely lifelike back to the bottom of the lake, kinda like you would see when a crawfish, goby, or leech that’s fleeing a predator.  

You can also twitch the rod to send the tube bait darting erratically, which adds to the overall ability of the lure to attract aggressive strikes.

What Are the Different Variations of Tubes?

Tube baits for bass are mostly categorized based on size and color. You can buy tube baits in sizes ranging from 2.5 inches to over 5 inches. 

Anglers typically use tubes measuring 3 to 4 inches in length. A 3.5-inch or 4-inch tube bait should allow you to catch smallmouth or largemouth bass.

You can also choose from over 100 different colors of tube baits from dozens of different manufacturers. Natural and translucent colors are used in clear water while darker colors are used in water with less visibility.

Another consideration is whether to use scented or unscented tube baits. Some manufacturers dip the tubes in salt, which can make the bait more attractive to bass.

Salt tube baits can lure bass out during periods of inactivity, such as during the winter. However, they also tend to cost more and are not necessary for fishing during the warmer months.

How To Fish A Tube For Bass? Best Retrieval Technique...

The basic presentation and retrieval technique for tube lure fishing involves hopping the lure across the bottom of the water. Crawfish spend most of their time at the bottom of the water, allowing you to mimic one of the bass’ favorite foods.

Step 1: Cast your tube bait to the area you want to fish and allow it to sink. Wait until your tube bait reaches the bottom with a completely slack line.

Step 2: After the tube bait hits the bottom, reel in the slack. You can now hop and reel the tube bait.

Step 3: Start by lifting or snapping the rod to send the lure bait several inches or feet toward the surface. Allow the tube bait to hit the bottom again and reel in the slack. 

Step 4: Repeat this process until you have worked the lure back to your boat. Cast in the same spot and retry the same presentation if you don’t get any solid strikes on your first pass. 

Conversely you can fish a tube higher in the water column.  Best of all it’s one of the easiest baits to fish around vertical structure (just like a wacky worm Senko).  It’s really a do-nothing bait.  

You can fish a tube around docks, bridge pilings, vertical timber, places like that.

Step 1: Cast your tube as close as you can to the structure you’re targeting and allow it to sink. The tube will naturally spiral and wind its way down. 

Most of the time if the bass are suspended next to the vertical structure they will eat the tube on the fall.

Otherwise, they’ll follow it down until it reaches the bottom and then they’ll gobble it up. 

Step 2: Its incredibly important that you allow the tube to fall on slack line.  otherwise it won’t have the action to get you that bite.

Step 3: If the bass don’t eat is on the fall or when it hits the bottom give the tube a sharp lift by snapping the rod tip up a few inches.  Allow the tube bait to hit the bottom again. 

If you still don’t get a bite, reel it back and cast the lure to a different part of the structure. 

For example: if you’re fishing a bridge piling fish the sunny and shaded side of the piling 

Step 4: Don’t waste a ton of time fishing the same area.  You’re looking for reaction bites. If you don’t get any bites move on to a different spot – you can always come back to see if the fish here are active. 

5 Great Locations and Structures to Fish a Tube for Bass and Why

While we already established you can fish tubes when targeting vertical structure, but where exactly should you fish a tube on the lake bottom?

The best locations to fish a tube along the bottom of any lake, streams, or rivers, is where any crawfish or small baitfish naturally live. 

Here’s a list of some the best locations and structures to fish a tube bait on the bottom:

  1. Clumps of Grass and Vegetation
  2. Rocky Banks
  3. Channels 
  4. Humps
  5. Rock Reef

A tube bait can work well in heavy cover as you can rig it without an open hook, which keeps it from snagging on weeds. Clumps of grass and vegetation are also great places to find bass during the spring and fall.

Bass migrate to and from shallow water via the creek channels and use cover along the way. Laydowns, which are fallen trees, also provide cover bass. 

Consider using the Texas rig when fishing around heavy cover. The weedless rig is great for pulling your tube bait through weeds and grass.

1.  Clumps of Grass and Vegetation

A tube bait can work well in heavy cover as you can rig it without an open hook, which keeps it from snagging on weeds. Clumps of grass and vegetation are also great places to find bass during the spring and fall.

Bass migrate to and from shallow water via the creek channels and use cover along the way. Laydowns, which are fallen trees, also provide cover bass. 

Consider using the Texas rig when fishing around heavy cover. The weedless rig is great for pulling your tube bait through weeds and grass.

2.  Rocky Banks 

Crawfish and smaller baitfish often hide in all the nooks and crannies along the rocky bank. That’s why it’s so awesome to fish!

The best spots to focus on a rocky bank is: 

  • The start and the end of the bank
  • Areas where rocks have tumbled to create a natural point
  • Any spot on the rocky bank that has an extra large sized boulder
  • Any spot on the bank that has intersection structures, such as a rock bank that is also home to a dock, or point, or some other piece of structure. 

3.  Channels

Channels are the natural highways of the lake, allowing you to find smallmouth and largemouth bass throughout the spring and fall. All types of fish use the channels to migrate and search for food. 

Follow a channel from a creek to deeper water using your tube bait. Look for channels with strong break lines and channels near point bars and humps, as these areas provide sudden transitions from shallow to deeper water.

4.  Humps

Humps are underwater hills, giving you access to shallow water near the crest of the hump and deeper water around the edges. Humps provide a food source for bass and other fish and are often found near point bars.

If you are fishing for bass in the late fall or winter, try looking for humps with steep break lines into deeper water. The deeper pockets of water offer more warmth during the colder months and convenient access to food when found near a hump. 

You may need to use a topographic map to spot humps in the lake. Look for a shallow area surrounded by deep water.

Start fishing the hump by casting to the center of the highest point. Work your way across the surface of the hump before fishing the outer edges that lead to deeper water.

5.  Isolated Rocky Reef

Rock reefs can provide shelter and food, making them ideal places to find bass with a tube bait. Look for rocky areas with large rubble, as larger pieces of rock provide more hiding spaces for baitfish.

Use a light rig when fishing rocky reefs in shallow waters and a heavier rig in deeper waters. Finding a shallow rocky reef adjacent to deeper water may offer even better conditions, especially in the winter or summer when bass move away from the channels. 

Cast your tube bait and allow it to sink to the rocks. Allow it to hit rocks and other objects during retrieval to get the bass riled up.

What’s the Best Tube Colors and Why?

The best colors for tube baits resemble the colors of forage species found in the areas where you fish. Most tube baits include colors that resemble crawfish or shad.

Common colors for tube baits include green pumpkin, watermelon, pumpkinseed, pearl, black, blue, and red.

Many tube baits also have flakes of color that can help your lure stand out in stained or dirty water or catch more light under sunny skies.

Natural colors, such as pumpkin, watermelon, and ghost shad are often used in clear water during sunny weather. You want your tube bait to have a more realistic appearance when the water is clear.

Pearl and other “ghost” colors with a translucent appearance also work well under sunny skies. The light colors can catch more sunlight and produce more flash. 

If the water is stained or dingy, switch to a bolder color, such as red, chartreuse, or orange. A bold color is more visible in lightly stained water, which has a water clarity of about four to seven feet. 

If you can only see to a depth of four feet or less, the water is muddy and requires a stronger profile. Blue and black are common choices for fishing in darker conditions, such as fishing at night or in dingy water with overcast conditions.

What’s the Best Season to Fish a Tube?

Tube baits are a favorite choice for bass fishing in the early spring and the fall when bass are found in shallower waters. The tube bait can mimic crawfish or shad and trigger aggressive strikes in the spring, especially when casting near spawning areas. 

The fall is also ideal, as the bass migrates toward shallow channels that you can easily cover with a tube bait. However, late winter is also a good time to use a tube bait.

Small baitfish don’t typically appear in large numbers until the weather warms up in the spring, making crawfish an important part of the bass’ diet. You can cast tube baits near humps and ledges to attract bass suspended in shallow water.

What’s the Best Time of the Day to Fish a Tube?

The best time to fish a tube for bass is typically around dawn and dusk throughout most of the year. The first few hours of daylight and the last few hours of daylight are when the bass are more likely to actively feed.

Bass are also frequently active at night. Fishing at night also typically means fewer anglers, resulting in less commotion in the water. 

From late fall to early spring, the middle of the day is often the best time to fish a tube bait for bass. The sun is at its brightest, which warms the upper surfaces of the water and leads to more feeding activity from the bass.

Should a Tube Be Fished Shallow, Deep, or Both?

Tubes are typically fished in shallow water, which is where you are more likely to find crawfish. Hopping the lure across the bottom of a shallow creek channel or near the shoreline is a common way to fish a tube bait and tends to work best in shallower water.

A light 1/16-ounce or 1/8-ounce jig head is often used for fishing near the surface or in waters up to a few feet deep.

While tube baits are typically fished in shallow water, you can also use them in deep water. You just need to use a heavier rig.

For example, the Carolina rig is a common setup for fishing tube baits in deeper water. It involves using an extra wide-gap hook connected to a leader with a swivel and a weight. 

You can let the Carolina rig drop to lower depths, such as 20 feet or deeper, to scope out of the bottom of a lake during the summer or winter.

How to Set the Hook When Fishing a Tube?

Bass are likely to strike as your tube bait falls during retrieval. The spiraling movement of the tube often produces reactionary strikes from the bass. 

Wait to feel the weight of the bass instead of setting the hook the moment you see the line move. Reel in the slack to make your line tight, which increases the sensitivity of the line so you can feel the bass’ movement.

Make sure that you have a good stance with your knees slightly bent and your elbows at your sides. When you’re ready to set the hook, snap the rod off to one side by twisting at the waist.

Immediately after snapping the rod, crank the reel several turns as quickly as you can. If you don’t set the hook far enough into the bass’ mouth, cranking the reel a few turns should finish setting the hook.

Best Fishing Hooks for Tube Baits

Most anglers use tube jig heads with their tube baits. Tube jigs often include a bulbous weight just below the eye of the hook. 

The weight of the tube jig often depends on the depth that you’re fishing.

For example, a 1/8-ounce jig head works well in waters up to 10 feet deep. A 1/4-ounce jig head may work better in depths up to 20 feet. For deeper water, you may want a 3/8-ounce jig head.

Instead of a jig head, some anglers use a wobble head jig to add more movement to the tentacles. A wobble head has a swivel head that allows the hook to wobble during retrieval. 

A third option for hooking a tube bait is known as the Texas rig or T-rig. A Texas rig uses a wide gap hook and a bullet weight and is often used in areas with thicker vegetation.

How Rig a Tube?

A common method for putting a hook in a tube bait involves inserting a tube jig into the hollow cavity. The hook may slide into the bait easier if you wet it first.

Insert the eye of the hook first. Continue to push the hook eye through the top of the bait, which is where you will tie your leader line. The barb of the hook should then poke through the middle of the tube just above the tentacles.

If you choose to use the Texas rig, you need a wide gap hook and a bullet weight. The bullet weight is added to the fishing line followed by the hook. 

Poke the barb of the hook through the tip of the tube bait so that the end comes out of the side near the top. Press the barb into the tail of the tube bait. 

A Texas rig may work better in areas with thick weeds and grass. The position of the hook near the back of the tube offers weedless penetration.

Instead of poking through the middle of the tube, the barb remains hidden at the end of the tube. Using a tube jig head results in an open hook, which is better suited for areas with less cover.

What's The Best Tube Setup: Rod, Reel, and Line?

Anglers use casting and spinning rods with tube baits. A spinning rod offers greater sensitivity, which is useful for finesse fishing with a tube bait.

Yet, a casting rod offers greater casting distance and accuracy. Using a casting rod is also better suited for pulling a tube bait through weeds and vegetation. 

Common lengths include 6, 6.5, and 7 feet. A shorter rod helps you maintain accuracy when casting but limits your overall distance while a longer rod gives you more leverage for setting the hook. 

The preferred rod has medium power and fast action. A rod with medium power can handle a wide range of lure weights, from 1/16-ounce to 1/2-ounce rigs.

A rod with fast action offers a good balance of sensitivity and control. You can also quickly set the hook with a rod that has a fast taper. 

A 5:1 to 6:1 gear ratio is recommended for the reel. However, if you want to add more action to a heavy tube, you may want to use a slightly faster reel with a gear ratio up to 7:1.

A higher gear ratio allows you to quickly reel in your line, but a 5:1 to 6:1 ratio offers greater versatility for working with lures of varying weights and sizes.

Anglers typically use monofilament or fluorocarbon lines with tube baits. A braided line is stronger, but completely opaque and makes it more noticeable.

A 8-pound to 15-pound test is the typical line size for fluorocarbon and monofilament lines when using tube baits. Use a 10-pound test line for deeper water and a 15-pound test line for shallower water.

Some anglers prefer to use a braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. The braided line can increase your casting distance and the fluorocarbon leader remains invisible in the water.

FAQ

How Do You Add Scent to a Tube Bait?

You can purchase a scented tube bait or add scent using various products, including sprays, gels, and oils. The easiest way to apply a scent is to add the product to a plastic bag containing the tube baits that you plan on using for the day. 

Popular scents include crawfish, shad, and anise oil. You should add the scent on the day that you plan on fishing, as presoaking the bait isn’t necessary. 

You can also coat a small piece of sponge with a commercial scent and insert it into the cavity in the tube bait. The sponge holds more of the scent and gradually releases it as you reel in your bait.

Scents that come in a gel can also be applied directly inside the cavity of the tube bait. Gels stick to the soft plastic instead of quickly washing away after it hits the water. 

Depending on the method that you use, you may need to reapply the scent. On average, commercial scent products last about 30 minutes.

What Would I Use to Make a Tube Bait Float?

You can plug the cavity of a tube bait to make it float. Tube baits include a hollow body that slowly fills with water after casting. 

The tube bait becomes less buoyant as it fills with water, allowing it to start sinking. Plugging the hole creates an air pocket that can keep your tube afloat. 

An inexpensive solution is to use foam earplugs. The typical foam earplug is the perfect size for plugging the end of a tube bait. 

You may need to gently stretch the tube bait to keep it from tearing as you slowly push the foam into the cavity. 

A floating tube bait is often used with a Texas rig or a Carolina rig. When using a tube jig head, the shaft of the hook typically runs through the center of the cavity where the foam would sit.

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