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One Ton Torpedo Tubing

By Russ Bassdozer

You may have heard of the "B52 Flying Fortress," but you probably haven't heard of the "One Ton Torpedo Tube" until now. It's one of the most powerful ways to bass fish known to mankind. It is a new definition for a heavy tackle powerfishing technique using one-ounce insider jig heads inside tubes. Since the inner hollow of a tube hasn't a very wide diameter, the long cylindrical insider jig head looks like a torpedo. And once you launch one of these heavy babies, you'll feel as if you've got a torpedo running silent and deep on the end of your line too! So leave all that finesse stuff dockside and rev up the engines on the old PT boat. We're going torpedo tubing today!

It's unlikely that powerbassing will ever be practiced by the average angler. It takes a certain level of experience, a certain number of years of having caught all the average-sized fish on all the average-sized baits. A certain having been there, done that, want more attitude, and bypassing the smaller, more plentiful fish in the spots that are easier to fish. It's getting into hard-to-fish spots, rarely-fished locations with one-ounce lures in hopes of rousing above-average adversaries. There is no finesse as we think of it, although there is great skill. It is reaction, hitting hard, a knock-down drag-out brawl. The outcome is unpredictable.

Some (not all) examples of such kinds of powerbassing skills are:

  • Bombing otherwise impenetrable emergent weedbeds with one-ounce jig-and-pigs to break through the heavy matted surface canopy to reach green-backed Jurassic dinosaurs lurking beneath.

  • Launching one-ounce spinnerbaits to slow-roll past deep denizens, or burning and crashing the one-ouncers through dense shallow cover.

  • Hurling cumbersome Carolina rigs into the unknown with one-ounce egg sinkers.

  • Punt-kicking one-ounce football jigs into the deep, with soft plastic skirts mixed and matched to single- or double-tail grubs.

  • Vertical jigging deep with heavy metal slab spoons, often surpassing the one-ounce mark.

  • Ripping one-ounce Rat-L-Traps and other hefty flat-sided lipless rattling cranks.

  • Whipping Super Spooks out way, way yonder, and whipping them all the way back in a head-slapping frenzy of action.

The above powerbassing examples have been written about numerous times before. Open any bass fishing magazine. You'll likely find one article or another describe some or other above tactic. Still, as I say, you aren't going to find the average angler powerbassing these ways all day. Those who do, finish all of their spinach at dinner the night before, and they drag their sorry carcasses into bed early after a powerfishing day. It's tiring and perhaps for the average angler, unrewarding work. Few bass will be caught, only with great skill in difficult spots, but they'll be powerbass. The most magnificent specimens at the peak of their power, they tend to be the best the general population of bass has to offer an angler. That's why powerfishers patiently and proudly pursue them. Now I'm not saying powerbassing is trophy bass fishing for ten pounders. That's something different (see here). But powerbassers do, through a combination of location and technique, bypass the prevalent ones and twos in hopes of selectively hooking the prime three, four and more pounders.

The one powerbassing tactic that probably hasn't been written about before is torpedo tubing with one-ounce insider jig heads in tube baits. Captain Chris Cliburn of Bubba's Guide Service was the one who stubbed his big toe on these torpedo tubes and started using them. He should be the one writing this, but he's busy guiding bass and striper trips each day, working a second night job, marking time with his lady Jessica, and when he's not busy he is out there torpedo tubing. So I am writing you the story instead of him. It needed telling.

Torpedo tubing tactics are similar to one ton football jigging with hula skirts mixed and matched to single- and double-tail grubs out West. But  the significant difference between footballs and torpedoes is the torpedo tube can be cast farther, gets down faster than the football, and fishes faster using more of a barely-above-bottom baitfish approach with the torpedo as opposed to crawling or dragging it around as many tend to do to mimic foraging craws with the footballs. With the torpedo, you can cover more bottom faster than the football. Swim the torpedo tube along, glide it down a slope, hesitate to let it sink, and whip the rod tip up immediately to snap it over obstructions it hits. If it really isn't hitting too much of anything, simply stop turning the handle (and expect to get bit then) to let it fall back to make bottom contact. As the torpedo tube gets closer under the boat, switch over to working it in a vertical jigging spoon lift-and-drop manner. Most hits will come as you get whacked on the downstroke or the fish will already be on, unbeknownst to you, when you go to make the next upstroke.

You may tend to consider one-tonning with either football skirted grubs or torpedo as a deep ploy, but the one ton can be a winning shallow water technique indeed. I've also caught many shallow bass on one tons, either football jigs or torpedo tubes. They work from six feet to sixty deep.


With one-ton footballs and torpedoes, I prefer the same set-up, a stout Yamamoto Mod IV rod and 14 to 16 lb. test Sugoi line, which is low-stretch fluorocarbon. Other brands of fluorocarbon have more or less stretch. So, if you don't use Sugoi, it's important to use a low-stretch fluorocarbon. Low stretch is important since this is pure reaction fishing and bass seem to initially snap or slash or take a punch at one tons. If you do not hit them back immediately, they do not necessarily hold onto them too long. At times, it's almost as if they knock themselves silly when they hit into these heavyweight jigs. Especially the torpedo tube is solid inside, not soft. I think it is heavy and hard for them to inhale one tons with suction created by flaring their gills as they hit it, and it's so heavy it can drop like a rock falling out of their mouths the instant they slash at it. Of course, if you're blessed to live and fish in big bass country, the bigger bass haven't too much problem inhaling footballs and torpedos into their huge maws, but you will at times tend to feel the dinks bouncing off the one tons as if they ran into a brick.

If you miss on the initial reaction bite, you can let the one ton fall to bottom and lie there, expecting a pick-up on the way down or off the bottom. This follow-up bite may now feel like a little extra weight has been added or total weightlessness or a mushy feeling on the line. You've got to reel any slack out, haul off and whack them fast and hard. That's why low-stretch line and a good rod that can drive a good sharp hook is a must, such as the heavy wire Gamakatsu in Laketown Manufacturing's one-ounce heavy wire, rattling heavy wire, and 3/4-ounce pro model tapered heavy wire torpedo tube jigs. The 3/4-ounce pro model fits inside 3.5 inch tubes whereas the one-ounce jigs fit inside 4.5-inch tube baits.


With one ton football and torpedo tubes, the heavy hook is often exposed. You should find the torpedo tubes snag less since they are often kept moving faster barely above bottom whereas the football jigs tend to be used more deliberately at times to smash, bang and bulldoze across bottom, getting snagged more because of more constant contact with the bottom.

With practice made perfect by losing more than you care to, your skills with both footballs and torpedoes can be honed to relatively snag-free deployment once you master what is going on with these heavyweights down below, and you learn how to bounce them over snags with the rod an instant before they get stuck. Even still, both will get stuck more than you care for, yet they're amazingly easy to shake loose when you get directly over the snag and jiggle them until they drop out, which can often trigger a bite by bass that scurry over to see what all the jiggling was about when easy-looking meal plops loose!

Both one ton footballs and torpedoes can be cast incredibly far, especially the torpedo tube which can almost empty your spool. This is both a blessing because you can cover a ton (pun intended) of bottom on one cast, and a curse (you'll be cursing if you get snagged at the end of a very long cast). There's really no way to unsnag these heavies unless you position right above them with the boat. So it is unproductive to cast far if it is so snaggy you spend most of your time moving the boat up to get over the snag to unsnag it. That's no fun.

Often the best way to one ton is to cast them directly up ahead of the boat. Not too far out to the side. Mostly up ahead of the boat. You must keep the trolling motor constantly on. Whatever speed you want, but constantly on. Go with, not against the wind. With a team of two, both guys must be casting up ahead of the boat if they don't want to get stuck one-tonning. Remember, if one guy gets stuck, you both sit out the penalty time. So you better let the back seat guy cast directly up ahead too. Cast ahead and let the one ton plummet to the bottom which is when you feel a thud and your line billows out slack. At times these things can almost rock you off your feet when they suddenly pound into the bottom like a mortar shell. Then reel the jig in just fast enough to keep it from getting snagged while occasionally tapping bottom to ensure your jig does not rise up too high off bottom. With the trolling motor on, keep retrieving until the boat pulls up perpendicular (at right angles) to where your jig is on bottom. Your jig should be practically under the boat or not too far out to the side when you pull abreast of it. At the point when the torpedo is getting close to the boat, switch to vertical jigging it like a spoon. When the football gets close, you can just shake, rock and roll the football jig on the bottom directly under the boat without lifting it, adding double barreled rattle straps to the lure for extra attraction if fish are keying on this sedentary vertical-shaking tactic.

Keep alert that neither you nor your partner cast any further ahead than the distance it takes the boat (depending on trolling speed, wind and current) to advance directly over the one ton by the time you are ready to reel in and cast again. With this approach, even though you are not emptying your spool into the setting sun when you cast, you are nevertheless covering more bottom more quickly with one tons (especially torpedoes) than with any other tournament legal bassing technique. If you get snagged, you will usually be able to unsnag your line easily as you pass directly over it. If you are doing this right, most times you will not have to step off or slow down the trolling motor to unsnag a one ton. You can usually jiggle it out as you troll directly over it. You will have a chronic snagging problem, however, if you let a one ton angle back behind the boat during a retrieve. That's a no-no.

In what is almost always a snaggy scenario when using one ton torpedoes and footballs, check your line and retie often. Although no-stretch braided lines would be great for sensing and setting the hook with one tons, they get frayed and cut too easily using these abrasive one ton tactics. With braid, the line will cut too easily on lures you could have otherwise unsnagged, and your line will part on big fish. Yamamoto Sugoi fluorocarbon line works best for me.


Another aspect, the last I will tell you about one-tonning today is that there are days when deep bass will streak straight to the top when hooked, rattle their heads and chuck the one ton right at you. If one bass acts this way, expect others to also act this way the same day. They usually all behave in concert, and that's an important concept. There's nothing you can do about this except really reel like swell until you get the line taut, get the upper hand and use the rod and reeling to drag the bass toward you off its course before it jumps. At least that's what I try to do, you are on your own. There's a whole lot of guys who kneel to fish, baby them, bow to them, stick rod tips underwater, slow down reeling, get gentle. This is not the time for that. I just rip them, never stopping until they're in the net or boat. A high-speed reel ratio like 6:1 or better helps here, but on top of that there's the spool diameter, spool width, line diameter and the handle length, all of which determine how many inches of line can be wound back onto the spool in a hurry regardless of the manufacturer's stated X:1 ratio. So you can get out a calculator and a measuring tape and you can crunch all those calculations ten times over, but they still won't get an inch of line retrieved for you. Only your wrist winding faster than you've ever wound before, not the x:1 ratio, will get line back onto the spool. Just your wrist moving like a blur and your determination to beat the bass to the surface before it jumps and wins its freedom from you.

Even when bass are not rocketing straight to the surface, one ton bass will still come off if you aren't assertive in reeling them. With the stiff rod and low-stretch line used, there just isn't any spring or shock absorber in the system. It's not like dropshotting. Any sudden slack, the one ton will drop out of the fish's jaw or the bass will dislodge it when it rattles its gills underwater or jumps. There's nothing to take up the slack in this system except you reeling fast and hard, so you must do that all the way to the boat - or you'll be sorry.

That's not all there is to say about torpedo tubing, but it is where I'm ending writing to you today. It's good guidance to get you started powerbassing with torpedo tubes. As more anglers experiment with this tactic, we should see more experiences shared on forums and in articles, helping define the yet uncharted course of powerbassing with one ton torpedo tubes.

Arm the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.

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