Advanced How-to – Fishing Finesse Tubes

Bucks Falcon Mercury

by Dan O’Sullivan

Advanced How To Finesse Tubes - Tube Supplies

Tubes and Supplies

If you’re like me, you like to experience the thrill of getting a bite when on the water.  That split second of unknown that happens from the telltale “tick-tick” to the hookset is a pure joy.  In that moment, you can imagine in your mind that the fish that just made your line jump is that big bass you’ve waited your entire life for.  Is it a keeper, a small fish, a five-pounder, a 10-pounder?  You won’t know until you swing.

That feeling is fine for a fun fishing outing.  Just being able to go out and catch a few bass – no matter the size – is sometimes enough to make for a brilliant day on the water.  However fun it can be to catch bass after bass; the truth is, in tournaments, nobody gets an award for most bass caught. The emphasis on the heaviest five fish limit changes the way anglers must think.

In order to win, anglers must make a decision to use lures that attract numbers of bites, but also the right quality.  There are times that anglers choose a lure that appeals primarily quality fish.  Swimbaits fall into that category, as do jigs in most instances.  Flippers love jigs because the present a bulky profile, structure specialists do as well because of the heavier weights, but also the profile.

There are times that weather conditions or heavy fishing pressure dictate scaling down, and for Flippers, they can turn to a creature bait, or they can go completely streamlined and turn to a Flippin’ Tube.  For the structure angler, who usually turns to a dropshot rig, or a Carolina rig, the tube can be an option as well.

A finesse tube can be an excellent compromise for anglers looking for something that has the magic combination of producing numbers, but still appealing to the right kind of quality that can be competitive in tournaments.

Because of its nature, it can be an excellent alternative for anglers who fish water that is lightly stained to clear, and largely fish rocky lakes with isolated brushpiles or sparse grass.  This approach is ideally suited for the Western United States, the Great Lakes, Ozark Lakes and some of the clearer, reservoir type impoundments of the Southeast

Advanced How To Finesse Tubes - Davis Baits Shaky Head

Our Favorite Tube Head Davis Baits Shaky Head

Tube Setup
The first thing to remember is that this technique is at its best when an angler needs to scale down.  When bass are not in a negative mood, a lure like a jig is preferred by many anglers, and a complete finesse presentation with four to six-pound-test line is for the ultra-tough; this setup is perfect for those in between times.

First thing to consider is the rod.  We prefer a 7′ to 7’4″ medium to medium heavy fast taper spinning rod.  The longer rod allows the angler to make a longer cast, which can be beneficial in clearer water because the boat is not positioned on top of spooky fish.

When it comes to the reel, it is important to consider two things.  Of course the drag is important.  It should be a smooth drag that allows the angler to control how much pressure is applied to the line during the fight.  The other thing to consider is inches per turn (IPT).  The larger the amount of line that can be picked up by the reel translates to better hooksets.  When a fish bites, you can gather more line quickly in order to swing.  Or, if you prefer to reel set (which is a practice we endorse, especially with light line), the more line you pick up, the faster the stretch is taken out of the line and the hook can be penetrated.

Like many of the world’s best finesse anglers have expressed recently, we have adopted the practice of using braided line as our main line, with a six to eight foot leader of fluorocarbon line attached to the main line with an Albright Special splice joining the two sections.  In out testings, we have found that using Berkley Nanofil fused line or Sunline SX-1 braid are both  excellent for water under 20 foot deep.  However, because braided line sinks, when we venture further out onto structure, and are fishing 20 to sometimes as deep as 60 feet, we prefer a sinking braid; which Spiderwire Fluorobraid fills the bill.  Our main line is typically a 15-pound-test line with the diameter of six-pound test.

Typically, we keep the ends of spools of Fluorocarbon lines in the boat as leader material.  By the time we have spooled two reels with six to eight-pound test fluorocarbon, we have anywhere from five to 10 yards left on a spool that can serve as leader material.  We prefer thin diameter lines such as Spiderwire Ultracast Fluorocarbon in six-pound-test or Sunline’s Super FC Sniper in seven-pound-test, but Sunline has also announced that they are going to be releasing actual leader spools soon, and we will test those as well.

Advanced How To Finesse Tubes - Must Have Colors

Our Must Have Colors

Tube Rigging
Because we are looking to scale down from a jig, but still provide plenty of profile, we prefer using double dipped tubes with significant salt content to create an overall profile of a decent meal.  The two tubes we prefer are Strike King KVD Pro Model Tubes, or KVD Pro Model Coffee Tubes, as well as the Big Bite Baits 3.5 or 4-inch salt tubes.

Our overall preferred size is the 3.5-inch size because it seems to produce numbers of bites as well as still producing quality tournament keepers that can save a day in an event.  We prefer crawdad colors such as green pumpkin, green pumpkin with red or copper flake, watermelon, watermelon candy, pumpkin green flake, smoke red flake etc.  If we could only select one color, it would be green pumpkin, and we may dip the tails red or orange from time to time.

Many manufacturers produce jigheads specifically for tubes that have a tapered head shape.  We like a head that allows the hook eye to be close to the front of the tube.  The further back the line tie is, the more of a spiral fall a tube will have, but since this setup is intended to be fished more like a jig, we want the line tie more towards the tip of the tube.  We also prefer the line tie to be a little taller so that the eye more easily extends to the outside of the tube when rigged for easy tying on.

We prefer 3/16 to 1/4-ounce heads, and we actually prefer a round ball head for this technique; one constructed on a medium wire hook.  Our overall favorite is a Shaky Head poured by Davis Bait Company with a 3/0 black nickel 90-degree VMC hook.  There are many other companies that produce quality heads, but this one seems to have provided the best results in both rigging and hook to land ratio.

We rig the lure by dipping the head in a liquid or gel scent such as Smelly Jelly Bass Feast to allow for easier insertion of the head, then slide the head all the way to the tip of the tube.  After positioning of the head, we press down on both sides of the hook eye to poke that out, then make sure the hook shank is in line with the eye and slide it up between the tentacles for a straight presentation.

Advanced How To Finesse Tubes - The Rigged Tube

The Rigged Tube

Fishing the Finesse Tube
The most important thing is to keep the lure in contact with the bottom.  This doesn’t mean that it must stay in touch 100-percent of the time, but because we are trying to mimic a crawdad, dragging or hopping along the bottom is key.

We tend to use the rod tip to pull the lure back towards us, then lower the rod, pick up slack with the reel handle and repeat.  We impart a slight shaking action while pulling the lure.  We keep the lure moving slowly towards us until we come into contact with bottom features such as rocks or brush, then we slowly shake the lure through the cover.  This seems to help trigger strikes.  Once we do get a bite, we lower the rod to give the fish time to take the lure, then begin reeling quickly to take up slack and remove all bow or stretch from the line, then raise the rod sharply to finish the hookset.

This technique will produce a number of bites, and it can produce decent quality strikes as well.  It’s a great alternative to going to ultra-finesse techniques, but gives the fish something different to look at when things get tough.