Fishing With Tubes

Even though Western anglers have known about tubes and fished them for years thanks to Bobby Garland and the creation of the Gitzit, tubes really didn’t break into the national spotlight until Denny Breaur’s win at the B.A.S.S. Master Classic in 1998. After that tubes were the hot ticket item for the next couple of years. Since then tubes have developed a loyal following among many pro and amateur fishermen alike.

But not everyone has thrown tubes and many have yet to unlock their fish catching potential. Also tubes are often associated with catching small mouth bass, rather than largemouth bass and spotted bass, even though tubes can be equally effective on all three.

Types of Tubes

The first part of fishing with tubes is in the selection. Tubes can be broken down into three distinct categories. Flipping Tubes, Finesse Tubes and Super Tubes.

Flipping Tubes – These tubes are generally 4-5 inches long and a little thicker than an average tube. They usually come in a variety of darker colors made to imitate a crawfish with an occasional baitfish color thrown in. These tubes are normally pitched and flipped into the same areas and cover that an angler would place a jig. Usually fished with a jig rod or heavy worm rod using 15-25lb test line. They can be Texas rigged with a bullet sinker and a 3/0 to 5/0 Extra Wide Gap hook or there are some new tube hooks on the market with the weight already rigged on the hook so that the weight is inside the tube. Basic colors are black w/ red flake, black w/blue flake, watermelon w/black and red flake, watermelon w/black flake, pumpkin w/black flake and junebug. These tubes generally perform the same task as a jig but impart a different action and a slightly different look. They actually make a good follow-up bait to the jig. After going through an area with a jig and picking up several fish, an angler can go back through the same area with a tube and show them something a little different and have great success. This is also works well during a team tournament. If the angler on the front of the boat is throwing a jig the back angler can follow with a tube. The jig and tube make a great one-two punch. The best tube made for this application is the Mizmo Bad Boy laminate tubes with the Mizmo Big Boy tubes coming in a close second.

Finesse Tubes- Finesse tubes have been used in the West for many years but are un-utilized in many other parts of the country. A finesse tube is not necessarily defined by its size but by the application. Finesse tubes are usually used to imitate baitfish first and crawfish second and to fish deeper water on light line either by dragging, dropshotting or with a light internal jig head with an exposed hook. Another popular method is “shaking” the tube. This makes the tube dart erratically like a disoriented baitfish that can trigger an inactive bass into biting. Dragging may be accomplished by utilizing a Carolina rig, mojo rig or splitshot rig. Finesse applications are probably the most common use of tubes today.

Super Tubes- Super Tubes are just regular tubes that never stopped growing. These big tubes are usually 5-7 inches long and two to three times as big around as the average tube. Originally used to catch big saltwater fish off of the California Coast, it was only a matter of time before bass anglers were using them to entice big Southern California largemouth. These tubes have also been used to catch big pike and muskies in the Northeast part of the country. In the last several years these big tubes have accounted for several big tournament wins in Northern and Southern California and are slowly becoming more popular throughout the U.S. Two of the more popular super tubes are Lindy Tiger Tubes and Garland Tora Tubes.

Rigging a Tube

There are many different ways to rig a tube for each application.

Flipping – Generally a “Texas Rig” or “weedless rig” is used with a flipping tube. The “Texas rig” will have a bullet weight on the line in front of a 3/0 or 4/0 EWG or tube specialty hook. Sometimes a bead is added after the weight or rattles are inserted into the tube. The “weedless rig” will have the weight inside the tube head or pre-rigged on the hook so that the tube is very streamlined and easy to cast into cover. Note: tube hooks require a wide “bite” in order to be effective. Regular worm hooks tend to ball up the bait and reduce the chance of a solid hook-up.

Finesse – The most common way to rig a finesse tube is probably using a tube jighead or a darterhead. This places the weight inside the tubehead and leaves the hook exposed. This is great for rock, sand or gravel bottoms but does not perform well around weeds or wood cover. It also works well for suspended bass.

Another way, is using the tube with a dropshot. This method has proved very effective and given dopshot specialists a bulkier bait to use when small plastics are only producing average fish.

The split shot or small Carolina rig work well when searching extended flats, long points or humps. This allows the tube to drag slowly on the bottom like a rooting crawfish or after inserting small pieces of foam into the tube, float above the bottom like an injured baitfish.

Super Tubes – Most new super tubes come with their own hooking system in place. Usually a weighted head, large single exposed hook and possibly a treble stinger that hangs down with the tails. If the super tube does not have a hooking system with it, an extra large wide gap hook and a large bullet weight will usually work.

Fishing With Tubes

There are two great reasons to fish with tubes. One, they give the fish something different to look at than the standard jig or plastic worm. Two, they just plain catch fish. Just follow behind a jig fishermen with a tube and you will see what I mean.

Many anglers just get tubes out for a few weeks in the spring and then do not use them for the rest of the year. Keeping a rod rigged with a tube year round will put more fish in your boat. A tube can be the key to bigger limits and better finishes.

Tube Tips

During the late Spring and Summer rig a 4” baitfish colored tube on a Texas rig using a 3/16 oz weight and a 3/0-4/0 tube hook and start looking for any type of cover that forms a ceiling for the fish to get under in the afternoon. Floating debris, lay down tulles, grass mats with a couple of feet of water underneath all will work. Throw the tube up on the mat and give it a little shake. Then slowly drag the tube off of the edge of the cover. The fish will hit as soon as it gets a couple inches down in the water so you have to be ready to set on the fish quick. Many of the bites are hard and vicious. Often times this technique is more effective than slower falling bait because it makes the fish react or risk losing a meal.

Another trick is to rig the tube Texas style but slide the sinker up the line 6” and peg the sinker with a toothpick. Then insert a small piece of foam covered with scent into the tube, which will make the tube float up. When the fish are suspended just over the grass or off the first break, the tube stays in the strike zone longer and will attract more bites than the usual offerings.


Tubes are a great tool that should be in every angler’s arsenal of baits. If you are not throwing a tube you are missing out on a lot of bites that you could be getting. For some of the best color selections and styles of tubes on the market today, go to If you want to show the fish something a little different and get those extra bites, throw them a tube.