SANDUSKY, Ohio – Drop shotting may be the sexy new technique for catching Lake Erie smallmouth, but Great Lakes aficionados know that under the right conditions, it’s still hard to beat a tube.
At least a third of the final 12 anglers fishing the recent Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open on Erie were throwing a tube and it accounted for the biggest fish for John Devries, with a 26-pound, 7-ounce stringer. While many anglers found the tube to be a drum catcher on
“Bass look up while a drum’s mouth is pointing down,” Devries said. “Getting it up off the bottom helps catch more smallmouth – when it comes up, they see it. The bait is probably only coming up a foot or a foot and a half. Gobies don’t get too far off the bottom. What’s more important is that it’s coming towards the boat.”
Devries uses a green/melon-colored tube paired with a 3/8-ounce custom-poured “pill head” jighead with a special light-wire hook that he orders from
“A lot of times, you can see fish on the graph,” Devries said. “Some guys will fish right under the boat, but that doesn’t always work. If you are seeing them, but they won’t react to your bait, mark a waypoint, back the boat off half a cast and crack a tube.”
Devries wasn’t the only angler throwing a tube, but he may have been the only finalist throwing one in such an extreme way. If Devries was on one end of the tube spectrum, third-place finisher Michael Murphy was on the other.
Murphy went with a light jighead and paired that with a Reins tube in either green pumpkin or camo. Then he drifted along “seams” in 12 to 15 feet of water where the rocks turned to sand.
He wasn’t using a tube exclusively though. A drop shot accounted for most of his catch, but there were times like on the final day, when the tube helped pull in some big upgrades. Murphy boated 22 pounds, 2 ounces on Saturday and made a big move, only 2 pounds behind winner Nate Wellman when the scales settled.
“I put the drop shot down when I had a 16-pound limit because when you caught one on the tube, it was going in the well,” Murphy said.
Unlike both Murphy and Devries, Art Ferguson has built his career and guide service around throwing tubes and he did so exclusively on
“Lots of guys were throwing heavier stuff, but I was using 1/4-ounce most of the time, working it real slow over structure,”
Unlike the more target-specific presentation Devries used,
“I did more dragging, making a long cast,”
The bottom line is, whether dragging or hopping, don’t forget to pack a tube on any trip to the