Big tube baits, that shape-shifting chameleon of plastic baits, leads the anti-parade. Hold the trombones. Softer, easier to cast, quieter, less back pain—it’s a gentler world, this. Tubes suggest changes in terminal tackle, rods, and tactics. Tubes can do some of the things traditional lures do, but better, due to an irresistible finishing touch: Unforced movement. Tentacles and soft sides move independently when no action is applied.
Pike spend a lot of time between late spring and midsummer on deep weed lines in our lake. Tubes are naturals around weeds, fishing them as you would jigs. Cast along deep weed edges, dropping and lifting. It’s an erratic thing. It doesn’t just rise and fall, it spirals, glides, and undulates. Try it on rock bars and wood, too.
Tubes can be fished like jerk baits, too, retrieved with downward pulls of the rod. They combine the good characteristics of a jerk bait but with the subtle movement of soft plastic.
Longer rods give you more snap on the lift, and more control when you swim the tube. Match an 8- to 9-footer with 80-pound braid and an 80-pound fluorocarbon leader.
Hang time makes tubes easier to work than jerk baits on flats, shallow rocks, and weed lines tubes are versatile in various situations and they’re hard for pike to refuse.
Fish are forced toward the bottom in big rivers where the current slows. You have to maintain contact with the bottom or be in close proximity to it. You can get away with 1½-ounce heads in shallow water, but sometimes you need at least 4 ounces to get down where the fish are. You have to match the jig to current speed and depth.
Most of the time, subtle action triggers the most strikes and you may need to increase the weight to add action, so it falls and spirals faster. Make more pronounced jigging motions, jerking the tube 4 or 5 feet off bottom. Other times just drag and swim it.
In rivers keep the boat perpendicular to shore, while drifting. Sonars will view complex bottom structure. Run upstream and drift with the current, using the trolling motor to keep the boat broadside to the current. Cast upstream, then give slack to allow the tube to reach bottom. Then begin a slow, lift-drop retrieve while maintaining bottom contact. It takes a while to get the tube back to the boat.
Walking-the-dog with a tube can be rabidly effective all summer. The “walk” isn’t predictable, however as a tube might go left twice, then right, and so on. A properly weighted tube, though, dances side-to-side with a short stroke-and-glide cadence. Use a 7-foot rod, hold the tip a couple feet above the water’s surface and stroke downward.
In fall, the soft turn-and-glide of a lightly weighted tube attracts big fish. Versatile, effective, and easy to fish. What’s not to like?
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