(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Michigan pro and media star Mark Zona has caught tens of thousands of northern smallmouths on a soft plastic tube with an exposed jighead hook, but there are times when that tactic is more of a snag-getter than a fish-getter. That’s when he turns to the “Stupid Tube” – typically the same Strike King Coffee Tube, but this time hooked in a manner that is substantially more snag-resistant.
Cracking an open hook tube typically has a higher strike-to-land ratio than one with a buried hook, but when he’s around heavier rock, wood or reeds, that open hook is a liability. In those circumstances some anglers might put down the tube in favor of a traditional Texas Rig, but because it is so effective with largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass, Zona is extremely hesitant to ever put it away. There are many times when they’ll eat a tube far better than they’ll eat anything else.
“The jighead that you’re using is the biggest key to fishing a Stupid Tube,” he said. “The reason why is you have to have an EWG jighead to accomplish this.” He prefers the Trokar weedless tube head, and he rigs it by bringing the point of the hook up through the tube’s opening, then popping it out in the desired spot and reversing its course. He also modifies the tube itself.
“I slice the back of the tube,” he said. That way he only has to come through a single layer of plastic when he sets the hook. “Sliced in the back, party in the front.”
He fishes it on the same gear that he’d fish a dropshot – a 7’1” Brent Ehrler signature series rod from Daiwa with a matching high-speed spinning reel – but instead of using straight fluorocarbon he spools up a leader of 20-pound Seaguar Smackdown with a leader of 8-pound fluorocarbon. “You want to break that hook away from the plastic,” he said, and the braid makes that more likely. “When you hook ‘em, you’ve got em.”
He does not use a wide range of jighead sizes. “I’ll use a 3/16 or a quarter, period,” he said. Anything heavier tends to get bogged down In the thick cover that he’s targeting, and it also impedes the action of the lure. That’s another critical point: many anglers tend to overwork the tube. As with a Ned Rig, less is often more. “Let it do its own job,” he said.
It may look stupid at first glance, but it has a tendency to make you look incredibly smart in the weigh-in line.
If you want to learn some of Zona's other theories on when and where to use the “Stupid Tube,” check out his full video, filmed on the water, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.