If an angler is in pursuit of Smallmouth Bass without the tube jig somewhere in the mix of go to baits, they are definitely missing out. Tube jigs and Smallmouth go together like milk and cookies. And Tube jigs don’t stop there; Largemouth can be had using them too.
Let’s just touch on off shore and on shore Smallmouth tube jig fishing for now and leave the Largemouth tube rigging for another time. For the most part, tube jigs on my outings are dragged along bottom. Pitching them in and around sparse cover is quite effective too; by letting them spiral their way down to the bottom. But the tube jig, with its exposed hook is not normally used in high-density cover, but rather, open bottom terrain waters with minimal weeds. Basically, dragging a tube jig for Smallmouth is like bottom bouncing for Walleye. It’s the same basic principal in that you can cover a lot of water fast and effectively.
A good rod of 6’6” to 7’2” in length will suffice just fine for dragging tube jigs. As far as the action goes, the medium heavy action is the way to go. It is a good choice, in my opinion, because I can feel much more distinguishable structure with it. The lighter action rod will distribute bottom structure, yes, but it has a hard time telling us what the structure is. The medium heavy rod has the sensitivity to distinguish a rock from a Bass with the bonus of a good backbone for setting the hook. The deeper the water the more backbone we need to aid us in getting that hook imbedded! The lengthy rod also helps. Whether I am using a 1\8 or 1\4 oz. jig head the medium heavy action rod does the trick. With too light a rod I find myself swinging constantly because with bottom resistance, like a boulder for example, the lighter rod will arch making us think we have a taker, but the heavier rod will force that tube jig up and over the boulder, therefore revealing its true identity.
G-Loomis builds rods especially for tube jigging. They go as far as giving us a graphic drawing of it on the rod it was designed for which makes for easy choosing. So far, the tube rigging G-Loomis rods I have put in my hands have felt right for me, but keep in mind that the action of one rod manufacturer doesn’t necessarily feel like the same action of another. In other words, feel for yourself and judge for yourself. I personally like the feel of the medium heavy rods for tube dragging, but again, ‘to each his own’!
Other rods that compliment the tube jig are the Crucial from Shimano, or the Cumara in medium heavy. My personal favourite tube jigging rod is the Quantum 6’6” medium heavy Tour Edition PT rod. It is well balanced, has a good feel and has the backbone needed for the job. I can drag tubes all day with it in comfort.
Of course, the rods mentioned are spinning rods because spinning gear is a prerequisite as far as I’m concerned! With Spinning reels, the tube jigs fall to the bottom is quick and with no restriction. As fast as it falls, the spinning reel will feed it the line it needs and it also amplifies any detection of hits with light weighted jigs.
When choosing a spinning reel for tube jigging we have to keep in mind that anti reverse is of the utmost importance. We do not want any play in the hook set so a good quality reel in tubing is a must. Priced just right is the Stradic from Shimano. It doesn’t matter what size you choose, these spinning reels are just plain magic. They are the workhorse of the Shimano spinning reel line up, in my opinion, and are worth every penny. For those of you with deeper pockets; how about the Diawa Fuego? This sweet little spinning reel is smooth and lightweight for all day handling. An affordable Diawa is the Exceler. It is not as light handling as the Fuego, but it is smooth, with an excellent anti reverse.
Hands down, my favourite tube jig combo is the Shimano Stradic 1000 teamed up with the Quantum 6’6” medium heavy Tour Edition PT rod. It has done me well over the many years and always will. I have confidence in its ability; its comfort and its outstanding live well filling capabilities. If you are looking for that perfect tube jig combo give these rods and reels a try and you will see and feel why I like them.