What Makes a Tube Tick?
Hollowness. I think of lures as tools. Most
of my soft plastic tools (worms, grubs, lizards, soft jerkbaits,
etc.) are all solid-bodied baits. A tube bait is not. My opinion
is that the hollowness of a tube is really something that makes
it different than all my other soft-plastics. I think the hollow
core gives a tube some of its attractive "floating"
life-like qualities. Therefore, to get the best action out of a
tube, I never mess with it by sticking stuff in the hollow core
of it (except of course if it an insider style of jig or hook). I
avoid putting extra stuff - rattles, fish attractants, floats -
inside of my tubes. Yes, I do use attractants on the outside of
my tubes, and if I want them to float, I do use cork jigheads or
cork bullets on the line, but not usually inside the tube, okay?
Uncut Body Length. I do believe the
uncut body length of a tube must be proportioned correctly to its
tail in order to create good hydrodynamic action of a tube. Just
like the body and tail of a kite both balance to produce its best
aerodynamic properties. I look for a good length ratio of about
60% uncut body portion relative to 40% split tail portion. I do
believe that the length ratio of the uncut body portion helps to
create the desirable wavering, zigzagging, side-to-side waffling
or spiraling action which very few other lures except tubes can
achieve consistently. Perhaps the only other bait which comes
close to the hydrodynamic properties of a tube is a flat-tailed
grub such as the Mann's Sting Ray Grub. This style of flat paddle
tail grub can also achieve some of the zigzag, spiral, wavering
and gliding action of a tube bait.
Cut Tails. Of course, the definition of
a high quality tube includes extremely fine cut, quivering
tentacles. The softness and separateness of the tube tails
creates life-like vibration as each individual tentacle moves in
the water. When a tube has many finely-cut tentacles, there is an
increased surface area of the bait exposed in the water, hence
additional water drag and fluid dynamics against that exposed
larger surface of the many tentacles. Because of the large
surface area, a tube is actually a "noisier" lure
underwater than most anglers envision it to be!
Roundness and Flatness. I try to seek
out brands of tubes that will retain their roundness during
storage over time. However, I also make special use of tubes that
flatten out a bit during storage. In fact, if I do not have any
squished ones, I intentionally flatten a few under a pile of
telephone books! Just rig the flattened side horizontally to
provide more action as you drop and jig it. You will get a
sharper zig and zag out of it than a round tube. Think of it more
as a flat paddle tail grub than a tube. Sometimes this is what
fish want on a light jig head - and they especially like the flat
ones rigged horizontal on a weightless offset shank hook about
18" to 24" behind a splitshot or bullet weight.
The combined characteristics of uncut
body length, round hollow body cavity, fine cut and separateness
of the tentacles tails are what makes a good tube bait great to
me! I just leave the body hollow and empty, and leave the tails
long and fluid. Don't add any extras, just apply scent to the
outside. Focus on the essential lure without the gimmicks and
frills! Master it this way, and I guarantee you will have a
productive fish-catching tool you can happily use for the rest of
your bassin' days!
Name Some Names. Tubes are
international. They catch every species of game fish worldwide in
fresh or salt water. There are hundreds of brands of tube baits
in the market, but not in this article. Let me get right down to
three specific brands. Below are baits and colors that are in my
bag and on the end of my string when I go bass fishing nowadays.
Does not mean there aren't any other good brands and colors of
tubes out there...just means that they aren't in my bag. But then
again, if I thought anything else was better than these three,
wouldn't that be in my bag instead? Don't answer that, just read
on if you are interested!
Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits
Yamamoto offers a new, hollow-bodied tube in 3.5" and
4" sizes. Yamamoto also makes a solid-bodied "tube
alternative" called the Ika. Both Yamamoto's new hollow
tubes and the solid Ikas are great baits, but I fish them
differently. For instance, I fish the Ika as a weightless
jerkbait but I do not fish hollow tubes that way. That is why I
call the Ika a tube bait alternative rather than a real
tube bait. They are different baits to me.
The two nicest things about the new Yamamoto tubes are that:
1) they are very soft and supple, and 2) the tentacle tails are
extremely well-split. The tail-splitting is sometimes a problem
with other manufacturer's tentacles, which may not be so neatly
split at times. But not so with Yamamoto! They are VERY NICELY
split tails. They quiver nervously even when standing still. Salt
on the outside (not impregnated).
Yamamoto tubes come in about ten colors, and they are all
good. I have asterisked (*) my
||Smoke Pepper w/ Red Flake
|Amber w/ Orange and Green Flake*
||Pumpkin Pepper w/ Green Flake
||Shimmer Shad (Electric
Smoke Body and Electric Clear w/ Green Flake Tail)
I like to use a soft, fine-tailed tube such as the new
Yamamoto for relatively snag-free, open clear water with light
lines, especially when the fish want a tube to sit there and
essentially "do nothing." but quiver.
Canyon Plastics & Garry Garland
I prefer a harder-walled tube such as the Garland Gitzit as
soon as I start encountering any cover and bulking up my
rod/reel/line size to handle heavier hooks, weights and jigs. The
Garland tube simply will not get torn apart by cover or by fish
as easily as most other tubes.
These are the world famous original Gitzit tubes that were
invented by Bobby Garland over twenty years ago. His brother,
Garry Garland came up with the idea to solve how to machine split
the tails. The rest is, as they say, history!
Garry is still fishing strong. He offers a complete product
line of tubes at his Canyon Plastics web site.
Garry's got an incredible eight sizes of Gitzits for panfish,
trout and bass. Some small, some big, some regular width, some
fat width. You just cannot get that variety of tube sizes
anywhere else. I have used all sizes of Garry's tubes for
bass...well, not the two most diminutive 1 1/4" and 1
1/2" sizes except for the incidental small bass bycatch when
targeting crappie or trout, but I have used the other six sizes
for bass as follows:
- 2 1/2" Mini Jig: I have used his 2 1/2" Mini
Jig which is a thin minnow shape in ultra finesse situations,
including for some incredibly spooyk, tight-lipped but huge bass.
In fact, the Arizona state record 14 1/2 lb. bass was caught on a
2 1/2" Garland Mini Jig.
- 2 1/2" Fat Gitzit: Next size, the 2 1/2" Fat
Gitzit is a wider-bodied model that imitates shad or panfish
hatchlings...and it is the best possible size for crayfish
imitations. Studies, as well as my own personal experiences and
those of my cronies show that bass prefer 2" to 3"
crayfish instead of larger sizes.
- 3" Finesse Gitzit: Garry's got a brand new
3" Finesse Gitzit model that is destined to be hot
especially for smallies and for all Western finesse tactics.
- 3 3/4" Original Gitzit: is the best model for
large numbers of average sized largemeouth and above average size
smallies. The 3 3/4" also comes with eyes bonded right into
the plastic...or rigged with a thim plastic weedless protector.
- 5" Magnum Gitzit: Best for big bass, for
flipping, in dark water, very cool water, or at night.
- 7" Giant Tora Tube: I have used Toras for
largemouth for about 15 years, and it gets fish within a 4 to 5
lbs. average up here in the Northeast, plus a few 2-4 pounders
when the bite is on. If you are from Florida, Texas, or the West,
you should have a better average size on the Tora. I have never
caught smallmouth or spots on the Tora, but then again I do not
recall I have ever tried for these species with a Tora. I do know
guys out West who do catch largemouth, big smallies and big
spotted bass with Toras. Out West, the Tora is still used
secretly to this day to catch sacks of giant bass in tournaments.
Since Garry and his brother Bobby invented tube baits over 20
years ago, I doubt that there is anyone who knows more about
making and fishing tube baits than the Garland brothers.
The keys to Garland's tubes are they are made of a harder
plastic formulation, allowing the tube wall to be thin but very
strong. The thin walls allow Garry's tubes to be "extra
hollow" inside relative to any other tube out there. Also,
Garry's Gitzits are made of a high flotation plastic formulation,
enhancing the tubes buoyancy and reducing its "weight"
in the water.The hollowness and lightness of a tube bait is an
important key to allow it to come alive in the water.
In general, Garry's years of expertise and experience cause
him to tend to want to make his body diameters a bit wider than
other brands. The combination of thin wall, extra wide diameter,
extra hollowness, and extra buoyancy all add up to allow the
Garland Gitzits to generate more erratic, unpredictable living
bait action easier than many other tubes.
So, these are characteristics to the Garland Gitzits that have
been imitated but never equalled: 1) the combined facets of
Gitzit body dynamics results in a great, more erratic drop...and
still the best "spiral on the fall" for those who like
that tactic, and 2) the plastic composition is durable and rugged
while still being lightweight, supple and fluid.
The Garland Gitzits come in an incredibly long list of 90
colors. The Gitzit green craw is a good one. In addition, you
might want to try some of the following. My favorites include:
|Mean Green Pepper
|Tomato Pumpkin Pepper 2-Tone
||Smoke Copper Glitter
|Brown / Chartreuse Pepper 2-Tone
|Pumpkin Pepper Green Glitter
|Melon/Smoke Red Glitter 2-Tone
||Pearl White Silver Glitter
Luck "E" Strike
In the eighties, Guido Hibdon had a string of national
tournament wins based on sight fishing and bed fishing for bass
with the Luck "E" Strike brand of G3 and G4 tubes on
light tackle. This helped popularize tubes, but it also
stereotyped tubes in most anggler's minds as light tackle bed
fishing baits. The in the late nineties, Denny Brauer had his own
hot streak winning a number of regional and national
championships. Although Denny caught as many fish on spinnerbaits
and jig 'n pigs, the most sensational news is that Denny is
flipping Texas rigged tube baits into heavy cover during these
tournaments. This has currently created a kind of "tube
mania" across the country. It seems that tubes top the
"best bait" list for many anglers now -- and they also
top the production list for almost all soft plastic lure
manufacturers in the industry!
Guido's Luck "E" Strike tubes are still among the
very best tubes IMHO! What makes the Luck "E" Strikes
so hot? The tails are soft, fluid and perfectly formed and
separated tentacle tails because they are injection molded rather
than machine split!
Luck "E" Strike makes three sizes for bass, the G3,
G4 and G5 tubes which are 3", 4" and 5"
The G3 and G4 come in a whopping 52 colors! My top ten colors
in the G3 & G4 are listed below, and I have asterisked (*) my favorites. Some colors, like
watermelon pepper, green pumpkin pepper, and black neon are among
the most popular across the country. Other colors like Desert
Storm Orange or Smoke Sand are relatively unknown but I have been
landing mass quantities on these colors on many bodies of water
for about fifteen years now! Also, rainbow trout is a real doozy
everywhere...even where rainbow trout aren't! And. of course, the
pearl white aint too sexy...but it slays them as does the white
back/clear glitter belly. You simply must try them.
The following ten colors are my Luck "E" Strike G3
& G4 favorites:
|009 Melon Pepper
||172 Green Pumpkin Pepper
|014 Pearl White
||044 Watermelon Pepper*
|075 Black Neon (black w/red flake)*
||530 White/Clear Glitter
|132 Smoke Pepper Neon (smoke
w/black & red flake)
||473 Desert Storm Orange (green
back w/red flake/orange belly w/black flake)*
|463 Rainbow Trout green back
w/black flake/pink pearl white belly)*
||469 Melon Pepper Back/Pumpkin
Pepper Belly w/red flake
|533 Smoke Sand (dark smoke
back/light smoke belly w/copper flake)*
The bigger G5 comes in a shorter set of 14 colors, including
the 009, 075, 469 and 530. I can only describe the G5 as a very
squat and sturdy "double-dipped" flippin' tube.
So, those are the best examples of the three kinds of tubes I
carry in my bass bag now...a soft, subtle, finely-tailed one like
the Yamamoto whenever that extra touch of finesse is in order. A
very reactive "mover" like Garry's Gitzits and Garland
jigs whenever I need to bring out the most elusive, erratic dart
and fall or when I need something slightly less soft and
therefore better in cover. Plus the Luck "E" Strike G
series in three sizes.