Best Tube Baits for Bass

Tube baits are a popular angling lure that depends on rigging (fixing the line and hook to a lure). Unlike other lure types that are ready to go out the pack, tube baits require a couple of extra touches.

Used by anglers for generations, the best tube baits for bass are a handy tool in everyone’s tackle box. Given their simplicity and cheaper cost of setting up, tube baits deliver good results at great value too.

Guide to Tube Baits

Buying the right tube bait involves a little research. Understanding what they are and when to use them is important. Especially if you’re undecided between these and any other bass fishing lure type.

What is a Tube Bait

A tube bait is best described as a hollow tube closed at one end with its other divided into thin segments (or strips) that best resemble tentacles. In the water, these segments float and move in a way that attracts bass into grabbing them.

Tubes

Material-wise they are usually plastic or rubber (as being hollow is a key component). This adds to the ‘action’ (movement) of the lure, helping slow its descent due to the air trapped inside as it sinks to the water bottom. It also mimics the circling movement of a pod of shad (a popular fish that bass like to feed on).

Why and When to Use a Tube Bait

Tube baits are primarily used to target smallmouth bass in waters where there are either crawfish or shad present. This is because both the action and appearance of the lure imitate these two species respectively.

Pros like Mike Iaconelli, who grew up fishing northern American fisheries, are big fans of the tube bait and the technique it requires. According to Iaconelli, the tube is more versatile than most anglers assume. Being just as effective for catching largemouth and spotted bass all over the country.

The technique is similar to that of using a jig lure but possibly requires more finesse given the lower weight and smaller size of a tube. For inactive waters where the fish aren’t biting the tube is perfect. That’s because the erratic “spiraling” movement it produces provokes a bass into a reaction strike rather than a feeding strike.

In clear waters where there’s a lot of anglers fishing, a tube can really come into its own. Especially if the bass are fatigued, sitting deep and are looking for an easy meal.

Tube Bait Options

Just like all the other bass lures out there, the tube has its fair share of options. Color and size are the two common features that divide shoppers more frequently.

Colors

The pros usually recommend choosing the color of a lure based on the color of the forage species that bass are going for. To make the right choice when it comes to shopping for a tube then, it’s good to have an idea of where you fish and what’s there that the bass are eating.

Usually, tube bait colors mimic forage species colors anyway but sometimes you might want to deviate from this advice purposely. This is particularly true based on the color of the water (green pumpkin when it’s clear and black and blue when it’s dirty) and the weather.

Beginners tend to overthink color when they first start fishing. What’s arguably more important is action and size. Not to mention confidence in what you use.

Size

The size of the tube bait you go for should be reflective of the size of the bass you intend to pull out the water. Going big is going to rule out a lot of smaller specimens and focus your time more on the heavyweights.

Some pros argue that the 3.5-inch tube is one of the best sizes to start with, particularly because it’s versatile enough to catch fish on either end of the size scale.

Beginners needn’t worry about size and shape too much though given that most bass anglers are using other lure types like crankbaits. As the fish are more accustomed to other lure types and more likely to inspect them, the rare sight of a tube, no matter the size, is something that, according to some pros, is enough to send them wild.

Tube Bait Rigs

As there are for many other bass fishing lures, there are a number of ways to effectively rig a tube bait. The most popular include the stupid rig, tube bait jig head, Texas rig, Carolina rig, and the drop shot.

Stupid Rig

This weedless (hooks only become exposed once the bass bites) rigging technique requires an extra wide gap jig head (weight and hook) that is threaded through a tube about a half inch from its nose (head).

You then flip and rotate the head to pop its eye (the point where the line is threaded) through the plastic and then loop it around the rest of the hook to hide it. It’s also good for fishing around docks.

Tube Bait Jig Head

The tube bait jig head is what helps make the tube one of the most versatile lures out there given its two different types. The head type with the eye on the top gives the tube its critical spiral action but does have a tendency to snag a little. The other type with an angled eye avoids this problem but gives it a less pronounced spiral action.

Evaluate the water you’re fishing and choose appropriately. If it’s obstacle heavy perhaps it’s better to go with the angled eye jig head first.

Texas Rig

Texas rigging a tube bait requires a big-bellied hook that is larger and more angled than the usual hook. The best way to use it is to line it up the way you want it on the bait and bury the eye itself in the tube.

Going in at the top and down to the bottom at 45 degrees is the best way to rig a tube this way. Although this can be quite tricky for a beginner with little experience rigging it’s worth the pay off as an excellent weedless and snag free set-up.

Carolina Rig

The Carolina rig is a good set-up to search out bass on deep water. Requiring an offset round bend and extra wide-gap hook, this technique is designed to sink deep and “feel out” the bottom.

Rigging a line this way requires a leader, swivel and bead. This helps make some noise for the lure but also protects any knot you use to finish the set-up.

Drop Shot

The drop shot rig attaches a weight to a leader below the hook enabling the lure to suspend in the water off the bottom (the spot where bass do their majority of feeding). Useful in many situations, the drop shot is best completed with split-shot hooks or finesse hooks.

Pros recommend using as small hooks as you can with a drop shot while opening the hook up with some pliers to bend it out and improve hook-ups.

Pairing Crankbaits with Other Gear

Due to their versatility, tube baits can be used with a range of gear so there’s no need to buy anything special in order to make them work.

Rods

Rods are usually the first consideration in the bass fishing world. Tube baits are used mainly with baitcasting or spinning rods.

What Type of Rod? What Rod Action? What Rod Power and Length?

Choosing a good rod to use with a tube bait should be a matter of preference rather than necessity. Beginners often prefer spinning rods over baitcasting when using tube baits as the cast is easier to work with.

Normal rod lengths for bass fishing apply with anything in the 6 to 7 feet range a good fit. Action can be preferential but given that tubes are usually light it’s recommended to go toward the heavy end. Any rod power around medium can work well enough with a tube.

Reel

Reels work best when matched with the rod. If you fish with a baitcasting rod go for a baitcasting reel, there’s no need to change things up if you feel you want to fish with a tube bait.

What Type of Reel? What Gear Ratio? What Retrieve Speed?

The normal bass fishing reel recommendations apply. Gear ratios around 5:1 or 6:1 will be effective enough to use with tube baits and you’ll get a lot of control out of adjusting the drag to whatever you feel comfortable.

Bear in mind the rig you decide to use and the weight you attach to the line. Faster reels can help add to the action of particularly heavy tube.

Line

Most line types apply when it comes to picking out the best tube baits for bass. Braided probably can be ruled out given its thick diameter. It’s better used for other species of fish other than bass who can be easily spooked by a visible line in the water.

What Type of Line? What Pound Test?

Fluorocarbon or monofilament lines are the way to go with tube baits as they give its action the most freedom. Pound test around the weight of the fish you’re aiming for is a good way to go. If you’re unsure go for something around 10 pounds as a happy medium.

Other Tackle

Tube baits, depending on how you rig them, often involve shopping for other tackle too. In most cases, you’re going to need weights.

Weights

Weights help the line sink to a depth where bass are likely to be in the water. Rigging a tube bait without them will make it more difficult to control and more likely to float near the surface away from potential catches.

Buying them involves some consideration on how you plan on setting up with a tube and what line and hooks you plan on using. If you’re already going with a higher pound line and some heavyweight hooks perhaps you can go lighter on weights. This will also depend on the depth of the water you plan on fishing.

Best Tube Baits for Bass

With a good idea of what a tube bait is let’s look at some of the more popular options common among the modern day bass angler.

Berkeley Fresh Water PowerBait

This tube bait is one of the most versatile on the market and comes in a huge number of sizes and colors (most popular being green pumpkin). Designed with a high and wide fast action, the Berkeley Fresh Water can be pitched, flipped, trolled and even used as a trailer if you want to experiment with a range of techniques. Comes in a pack of ten.

Big Bite Baits 4-Inch Salt Tube

Although one of the more pricier options on the market, this lure is very heavy duty with a very smart action that’s perfect for fishing both freshwater and saltwater. Hand dipped and loaded with salt, the lure is designed to create a path in the water that can help draw more fish into striking. Very good for targeting largemouth and spotted bass.

Wtrees Best Fishing Soft Baits

Ideal for spring fishing where you want to target small and largemouth bass, the Wtrees series is simple yet durable. Available in over twenty colors, this lure is well recommended by anglers for its extra softness and biodegradability. Also suitable for use in a range of rigging styles including Texas and dropshot.

Strike King Mr. Crappie

Mr. Crappie’s soft plastic lures come in four different color choices including bluegrass, electric chicken, and pearl whitetail. At 2 inches this is one of the smallest tube baits in this list making it a strong choice for an angler who looks to experiment with different jerk heads and rigging options. Comes in a pack of fifteen.

Z-Man TRD TubeZ Soft Plastic

The TubeZ tube bait is a 2.75-inch solid nosed tube bait that makes for easy rigging on any jig head and has a great hollow body creating an effective spiraling motion. Special construction causes the tentacles to stand up off the bottom of the water to give it an extra edge over other tube baits and hopefully attract more fish.

Tube baits are a tried and tested lure in the bass fishing world enjoyed by both pros and novices alike. Giving more customization than the average bass lure, with several rigging options, also makes them incredibly versatile.