Bass fishing with a tube is a technique that every angler should have in their fall arsenal. Although it’s tempting to chunk crankbaits and topwater lures in the autumn months, slowing down and picking apart cover can produce outstanding results.
Elite Series pro Kevin Hawk always has a tube nearby when fishing in the fall. According to him, it’s one of the only soft plastic baits that will catch fish in every lake under almost any conditions.
Stopping points and contour changes
Fall bass fishing is all about the shad—they migrate into the creeks and the bass follow. That doesn’t mean, however, that imitating other types of bass forage should become an afterthought. As the bass migrate to shallow water via creek channels, they’ll position themselves around strategic pieces of cover along the way.
“It seems like a lot of the bigger fish take their time getting to the backs of creeks throughout the fall months,” Hawk said. “As they work their way into the shallows, they routinely stop on small holding areas or transitions. In my experience, if
you can find any type of contour change, such as a bluff or a point, you need to be on high-alert for available cover in that area because that’s where big bass will be.”
Throughout the late fall, Hawk begins his search in the mouths of creeks. When he locates suitable cover, he believes it’s hard to beat the streamlined profile of a tube.
“A Texas rigged rube is perfect for pitching and flipping,” Hawk said. “Not only does it come through cover excellently because of its streamline profile, but it also has just the right amount of action. In cooler water, I don’t want a lot of action on my baits—when the water cools and winter approaches, I believe bass respond much better to a more subtle presentation. A soft plastic that moves all over the place just doesn’t produce as well in cold water.”
Key cover to target
Tubes can catch bass regardless of available cover but catching consistent quality requires a bit more precision. There are four types of cover that Hawk targets with a tube throughout the late fall months.
Work from the inside-out
When many of us approach a piece of cover, we’ll just flip and pitch wherever we can get our baits. Hawk, however, employs a very methodical approach that allows him to cover water efficiently and avoid spooking nearby bass.
“When I fish a laydown with a tube, I’m going to target its perimeter first so I can pick off the more aggressive fish using the cover as an ambush point for nearby bait,” Hawk said. “You don’t want to make your first pitch into the heart of the cover. If you catch one, it can spook the more accessible fish on the edges.”
Although it can vary depending upon the conditions and mood of the bass, Hawk makes about six pitches to each piece of cover before moving on.
“Big bass love to eat a tube, so it usually won’t take dozens of casts to make them bite,” Hawk said. “If you can make six quality pitches that allow you to cover the front, middle and back of the cover, you’ve fished it thoroughly.”
Effective rigging options
point into both walls of the tube and very lightly bury the point on the outside wall. It’s very snag-resistant in heavy cover, but also promotes an excellent hookup.”
When using a Tex-posed tube around wood cover, Hawk makes a point to peg his weight. In order to achieve an effective presentation, a straight fall to the bottom and a snag-free profile, it’s important for the weight and tube to stay in contact in heavy cover. When fishing grass, however, it’s a different story.
“I like to let my weight slide free when I’m fishing grass with a tube,” Hawk said. “You usually don’t have to pull your tube over obstructions when dragging it through grass, so weight separation becomes a non-issue. I believe a tube has a better, more natural action when fished with an unpegged weight, so I try to take advantage of that when I’m fishing around vegetation.”
Color selection and retrieve
Every bass angler has a different theory regarding soft plastic color selection. Some are big believers in different shades and fleck colors while some anglers keep things remarkably simple. Hawk doesn’t get carried away when choosing colors. He uses the same color in almost every situation.
“I’m going to throw a green pumpkin-colored tube 99 percent of the time,” Hawk said. “There’s no need to get too fancy. I believe green pumpkin is a great all-around imitation of both crawfish and bluegill. If I’m noticing large numbers of shallow bluegill around cover, I’ll definitely tip the tube’s tentacles in chartreuse to add a little realism. When the water is very muddy, I do change to a black Yamamoto Tube with blue flake so the bass can see it a little better.”
Contrary to popular belief, fishing a tube isn’t difficult. There’s no magic retrieve that works better than others—above all, it’s important to cater your retrieve to the bass’ preference. Hawk urges the importance of constant experimentation but offers three retrieves for beginning tube anglers to try.
If the reaction bait bite is beginning to slow in your area, now is an outstanding time to flip and pitch tubes into heavy cover. Knowing what to target, how to approach cover and effective rigging and retrieve options will give you a definite upper-hand against the bass when the bite turns tough.
What is your favorite way to rig a tube? In what type of cover is a tube most effective for you? Let us know in the comments!