One Ton Torpedo Tubing
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
Some (not all) examples of
such kinds of powerbassing skills are:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
ROD AND LINE REQUIRED
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.
GETTING IN (AND OUT) OF SNAGS
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
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 suddenly...an
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.
KEEPING THE KEEPERS ON
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
Arm the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.