Of all the lures and presentations we use in finesse fishing, few are as well known as the plastic tube, or tube jig, first developed by the late Bobby Garland and introduced in 1964. You can fish tubes in clear or dingy water, shallow or deep, around heavy cover and at all seasons of the year.
They can be cast, jigged, flipped, pitched, skipped, and even rigged for another finesse presentation, drop shotting. Tubes fall differently than any other finesse lure: They spiral to the bottom in a circle, accurately imitating the motions of dying forage like shad, alewives, and herring. You can control the width or size of a tube's spiral by the way you rig it, and this can be critically important since at least 60 percent of your strikes will come on the fall. My favorite finesse presentation is in more open water, where I have either light cover or no cover at all, such as on flats, the ends of points, humps or shoals. I use an internal lead or tungsten jighead, with a line-tie eyelet angled straight out at 90 degrees.
I wet the jighead and slide it into the tube body, and where I push the line-tie eyelet back out through the wall of the tube determines the type of spiral I'll get.
The closer to the head, the tighter the spiral will be; the lower the eyelet, the wider the spiral. Remember, I'm not talking rate of fall, but rather the diameter of the spiral itself. If the water is cold, or the fish are generally inactive for whatever reason, a tight spiral usually brings the best results.
As the water warms and the fish become more active, a wider spiral works better. For heavier cover, which can include brush, standing timber, overhanging trees, docks with a maze of cables underneath, I use a Texas rig with an internal weight. I use either a 1/0 or 2/0 extra wide gap hook, depending on the length of the tube.
For weight, I use a common bell sinker — the same type of sinker commonly used by catfishermen. I keep an assortment of these weights available, ranging from 1/16 to 1/4 ounce, with 1/8 and 3/16 being my favorite sizes.
I push the sinker in with the line-tie loop facing up, and — as with the jighead — how far you push the bell sinker up the tube determines the size of the spiral as it falls. Tighter falls are normally better in thick cover, so push the sinker to the head of the tube.
Next, insert the barb of your hook into the tube head as you would with a normal Texas rig worm, but thread it through the sinker's line-tie eye before you push the barb back out and complete the Texas rig.
To maintain the dying-shad appearance, fish the tube with a semi-slack line. You want a bow in the line, but you don't want it tight, because this will eliminate the spiral; the lure has to fall freely.
At the same time, however, letting the tube fall on a completely slack line will result in missed strikes because you won't feel them. I nearly always fish them with 6- to 10-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line (I change to 6/14 FireLine in muddy water or very heavy cover), and either a 6-6 or 7-foot rod. Finesse Fishing with Mike Iaconelli, a new book by Mike Iaconelli and Bassmaster Senior Writer Steve Price, has just been published and autographed copies are available for $19.99 plus $4.95 S&H from www.mikeiaconelli.com.