Boat positioning and Active throttle:
Tubes come in all shapes and sizes. Some with weight, some without. I am a die-hard believer in an unweighted or lightly weighted tube as I think it has the most natural action when the boat is both in and out of gear. I DO AGREE that tubes should be fished very near the bottom, so there should be much focus on getting the tube down. A tube and worm is an excellent imitator of sand worms or live eels, and consequently these lures need to be fished as close to the bottom as possible. To do so, I use the boat positioning/active throttle method. This technique is unique as it allows the angler to fish deep water with light gear. My tubes sometimes even touch bottom in 40-50 feet of water. This is an active fishing method in the sense that the angler works together with the captain to place the tubes in front of the fish marked on the fish finder with amazing accuracy. This is a technique that anglers at all levels can learn from and help viewers understand that trolling can and in many cases should be an active process.
Other Tips for Getting Down:
Fish with Lead-Core or Wire Line
I fish out of a center console, so weighted line is my preferred method for getting my tubes down. I like to fish with lighter gear, so I almost always use lead core fishing line. Lead core can be paired with lighter outfits and easier to work with than wire.
Weight your Tubes
A lot of tubes come pre-weighted, often with 2 or 3 ounces of lead in the nose. I prefer an un-weighted tube because I feel it has a more natural movement in the water when the boat is taken out of gear and tubes are dropped down on to fish. <see video above>>
Manipulate your Boat Speed and Direction
Ever since I was a very young angler, I’ve heard the old tubing adage: “Slow your boat down as slow as you boat can go, and then slow down some more!” While I agree with this statement, I have a few additional thoughts and observations!
Not all boats can go slow enough for proper tube and worm presentation. Secondly, sometimes it’s nice to pick up the speed a little to cover some ground. As a result, I am a huge fan of taking the boat in and out of gear – even if I’m on a boat like mine that can be run at a very slow speed. Not only will taking the boat out of gear get your tubes down, the variation in depth often triggers strikes.
If you were to tube and worm with me, you would quickly notice that in addition to always popping in and out of gear, I’m always making turns. If you’re fishing two lines, a sharp but temporary turn will drop the inside line and raise the outside line. Combine that with popping the boat out of gear, now your getting really deep.
Following the Tide
Stripers hang in some pretty turbulent waters. Once the tide gets moving, troll in the same direction as the current and your tube and worm will fish much deeper.
I’m always dropping my tubes back. That’s why I’m such a fan of pre-measured amount of lead-core paired with 40-pound test braid. The braid cuts right through the water and peels off the reel very quickly in free spool. So pair this with popping the boat out of gear, making a short sharp turn, you can find the bottom of 35’ of water with no problem with an unweighted tube.
Rod angle has a huge role in how deep you are fishing your tubes. If you think about it, if you are trolling with a 7-foot rod, and it’s in a rod holder, the tip of the rod may be as much as 12 feet off the water line when considering the height of the gunnel. If you’re fishing in less than 20 feet of water, rod angle is not critical and rod angle may not be worth too much thought.
BUT, if you are not getting deep enough, try these techniques:
- Hold the rod with tip pointed toward the water: One caveat here is that you must NOT set the hook on the fish until you feel line coming off your reel. Stripers often hit tubes in the head and slide down and find the stinger. If you set the hook before this happens, you will yank the tube right out of the fish’s mouth before it gets near the hook.
- Rod Rigger: Talk about a clever invention. The rod rigger positions the rod so that it is horizontal over the water and greatly minimizes the distance.
Playing the Tides
Any tide is can be productive with the tube and worm. At slack tide, you can troll anywhere you want as you will be uninhibited by the current pushing your tube to the surface. Once the current builds, you should troll with the tide. Your tube and worm will seem like a large eel or sea worm getting swept along with the tide.