Hordes of bass have followed their spawning urges into the shallows this month. They are ambushing bait around flooded bushes, blowdowns, and boat docks. Or they are cruising skinny-water shorelines looking for choice spawning sites. Some are already on their beds, hovering amid grass openings or above submerged stumps and roots. And every one of them can be caught with a tube bait.
You can’t beat the versatility of these soft-plastic lures now. A tube can be rigged to reach bass in gnarly cover, to pick off cruisers in open water, or to coax strikes from even the most finicky bedding bass. Follow the three specific tube tactics on the next page and you’ll have a great chance at fooling just about any bass you come across this month.
COLOR White, yellow, chartreuse, and other bright colors help you see strikes when you’re sight-fishing for bedded bass. Otherwise, try natural hues, such as black neon when you’re fishing in stained water and watermelon seed in clear water.
BODY A bulky 4¼-inch ribbed body will get the attention of bass holding around thick cover in murky water. To entice skittish bedding bass in clear water without spooking them, try a slender 3½-inch tube. You can split the difference with a fat 4-inch body, which is a great all-around performer.
HOOKS An extra-wide-gap, 3/0 to 5/0 hook, like Mustad’s Big-Mouth Tube Hook, prevents the bulky tube from impeding penetration and is perfect for snagless Texposed rigging. For line-shy bass in clear water, switch to a tube jig, which slides inside the bait’s body.
RATTLES A tube rattle, which attaches to the hook and is hidden within the bait, is a smart addition when you’re fishing murky water. The noise it makes can draw bass that might not otherwise ever see your lure.
WEIGHT For Tex-posed rigging, peg a bullet sinker to the head of the tube. The weight and tube should be the same color, especially if you’re fishing clear water. No extra weight is needed when a tube is rigged with a jig.
COMB THE COVER
Flip or pitch a 4¼-inch, ribbed, Tex-posed tube to prime staging cover using a baitcasting outfit with at least 20-pound line. When you’re casting tight to the edges of stumps and boat docks, peg a 3/16-ounce bullet sinker to the head of the bait and work the tube over the bottom with both short and long hops, until you find out what the bass prefer. Go with a 3/8-ounce sinker to penetrate flooded bushes, brushpiles, and fallen trees. Don’t hesitate to drape the line over a branch and twitch the tube on or above the bottom.
SIGHT-FISH THE BEDS
Start with a 4-inch Texposed tube with a ¼- to 3/8-ounce bullet weight pegged to the head, matched with a flip-ping rod and 15-pound line. If the bass shies away, try a 3½-inch tube rigged with a 1/16-ounce tube jig and switch to medium-action spinning tackle and 8-pound line. Cast beyond a spawning bass and drag the lure back into the bed. Twitch it to annoy the bass. By working over different areas of the bed, you can usually find a certain spot that most irritates the fish, causing it to flare its pectoral fins, swim around, or drop its nose downward toward the lure. Keying on this spot will usually elicit a strike.
SKIP TO THE CRUISERS
This time of year, you’ll commonly see bass moving through the shallows, cruising from one area to another as they search for preferred bedding sites. Be prepared to intercept these fish by rigging a fat 4-inch tube with a 1/16-ounce tube jig. Tie the lure to 8-pound line on a medium-action spinning rod. When you see a cruising bass, skip the tube atop the surface in front of it. The light, skittering bait looks like a fleeing minnow darting across the water—something few bass can ignore. More often than not, the fish will engulf the bait before it sinks even a foot.