Sep 1, 2013
Heavy Rigging for Grass Flat Bass Part 2: Heavy Texas Tubing!
By Mike Pehanich
Bass anglers everywhere acknowledge that the plastic “tube” — fished Texas style or as a tube jig — is one of the most versatile tools man ever tied to a fishing line. You can fish it shallow or drag it deep, fish it unweighted with an erratic jerkbait-like action or stuff it with a heavy jig to crawl it slowly over a rocky Great Lakes reef.
The practice of fishing tubes aggressively in deep vegetation, however, is almost a clandestine practice and one of the most overlooked techniques in the bass fishing game! Peg a heavy bullet-nose sinker of ¾ to one ounce or more ahead of a Texas-rigged tube, and you have a lure that slides effectively through most vegetation and easily rips free when hung up. It can trigger strikes from bass in an aggressive mood or awaken bass from a neutral or negative attitude and compel them to strike.
Bass anglers often wax morose when the easy bite of spring and early summer begins to wane. They complain of warm water, hot air temperatures and “sluggish” bass. But, in truth, the bass are often quite catchable – if and when you can find them and trigger them to bite.
On clear lakes with healthy vegetation, summer bass often find all the comfort and food they need from the summer peak through the “dog days” of late summer in deep patches of bass-friendly aquatic plants such as sand grass, coontail cabbage, and, in some cases, milfoil. However, presenting baits in the “deep jungle” can be tough!
In “Heavy Rigging for Grass Flat Bass Part 1: The Big Jig & Pig,” we featured the technique of aggressively fishing ¾- to one-ounce Kalin’s Grass Stalker Jigs with Uncle Josh Big Daddy Pork Frog, Uncle Josh MEAT Diamond Frog, and other pork trailers. “Heavy Texas Tubing,” featuring a weedless-rigged plastic tube and a heavy bullet-nose slip sinker, is a companion technique. Together they comprise a walloping one-two punch for fishing summer bass on flats and dropoffs featuring deep vegetation.
Traits of the “Texas tube”
“If you have a lot of weed, wood or any kind of cover, you probably won’t want an exposed hook. That’s when you go to a weedless option, the Texas rig,” explains Adam Eisele, Uncle Josh sales manager, who frequently field-tests products on vegetation-filled waters of the upper Midwest.
The tried-and-true Texas rig is one of the most versatile options available to bass anglers. It employs a soft plastic lure – in this case, a Kalin’s tube – on a wide gap worm hook with a bullet-nose sinker pegged to the line ahead of the hook and plastic.
Here are a few reasons you should try a heavy Texas tube in the deep tangles:
Weedlessness – A well-rigged Tex tube looks like a long bullet, and its hydrodynamic design travels like one, too. A pegged weight and tube combination offers little resistance and a bare minimum of contact area for vegetation or debris to catch.
Weight –Heavy bullet-nose sinkers of ¾- to one ounce or more get down quickly to where weed bass lurk. Try tungsten weights. They are denser than lead and pack more weight into a smaller, more streamlined profile. They also tend to have a diameter close to that of the tube itself, which makes for a nice, compact, integrated presentation.
Triggering Speed – Heavily weighted tubes fall fast and often trigger reaction strikes from bass regardless of their mood or activity level. Moreover, a tube that does get caught in vegetation and is subsequently ripped free resembles a frightened or injured creature that an opportunistic predator cannot ignore. Rip it free, and it’s game on!
“Stay with short casts of about 15 yards or so and work the bait through the weeds,” advises Matt Bichanich, tournament angler and marketing head for Uncle Josh. “If it gets hung up, pop it real hard, let it fall back down and…bam! The fish will hammer it!”
It takes proper rigging and tackle to take full advantage of a Texas tube doing jungle duty.
Peg the tube with a bobber stop or rubber insert to minimize surface area for debris to catch while you are working the bait.
Use a medium-heavy to heavy power rod with a fast tip. A flipping/pitching rod is usually best.
Braided lines of 30- to 80-pound test (we like 50-pound) will enable you to cut and pop through the stems and stalks of thick grass. No line or rig can assure you of 100 percent “weedlessness,” of course, but “grass attack” tackle will outperform your everyday tackle by light years!
A hooked bass likes to bury his head in the thickest, deepest refuge of aquatic vegetation that he can find. Most anglers prefer a baitcasting reel for this heavy hauling, which often requires tight drags, hard hooksets and winching up big fish draped in 10 pounds of greenery.
Heave, ho! And hold on!