Tubes make that happen more easily, said Dean Rojas, a professional angler from Lake Havasu City, Ariz. A hollow tube vaguely resembles a squid on the surface, but it looks like a crawfish emerging from winter mud to a bass. Rojas tips tubes with tungsten Megaweights, a heavier material than lead. It provides better penetration in a smaller package to probe flooded brush or other cover where bass gather before spawning.
In most lakes, males enter the shallows weeks ahead of females to look for spawning spots. In late winter or early spring, large female bass hover at channel mouths and drop-offs until water warms up. When temperatures reach 65 to 68 degrees, bass swim up creek channels or along drop-off contours like people using roads for navigation until they reach the spawning grounds.
In cold, shallow water, bass often wait for something to almost poke them in the nose before striking. They seldom chase high-speed baits, striking more out of anger than hunger. They also pick up annoying intruders to remove them from spawning beds.
To provoke these finicky bass, Rojas works a tube slowly and deliberately. Opting for precision over distance, he seldom makes casts longer than 10 yards when fishing such heavy cover as flooded brush in early spring. With short flicks of his wrist, he drops tubes almost imperceptibly next to cover, hitting every twig, stump, pocket or blade of grass he can reach.
"Whenever fishing shallow water, make the lure entry as light as possible," Rojas said. "The less you spook an area, the more you're likely to catch big bass. Point the rod tip toward cover as the tube goes out. As it lands, pick up the rod tip to make a soft entry. Small and compact, a tube slides through cover well, but it's a little chunkier than a worm. It resembles a crawfish."
Using long rods almost like cane poles, anglers can flip lures into tight pockets at short range more accurately than when casting. Lures land with more finesse than flash. Anglers can slip a tube into specific pockets in grass beds or twigs. They can nudge a lure between two lily pads to reach cunning lunkers that others cannot even tempt. Sometimes, even the smallest structure can hold a huge bass, but don't waste time. Bass usually either bite a tube immediately or not at all.
To reach sweet spots where lunkers lurk, nose the boat almost against structure. Strip out a few yards of line and hold the excess in one hand. Swing the long rod toward the target with the other hand and then release the excess line slowly as the bait nears the target. The bait should drop next to the target with hardly a splash.
After the bait wobbles to the bottom, Rojas bounces it once or twice before dropping it next to another twig.
Sometimes, he pitches under difficult to reach overhanging brush. After hitting every piece of cover, Rojas may hit them again, sometimes five or six times, in an area that he knows holds bass. Frequently, persistence pays off with lunkers and big checks during tournaments.
"A tube is well suited for skipping way back under cover like buck brush and flooded willows," said Alton Jones, a professional angler from Waco, Texas. "When it falls, it glides from side to side and spirals. That looks much like a wounded shad that had been attacked by another fish as it slides to the bottom. The major mistake people make is not letting a tube fall on a slack line. When the line stops falling, it has either hit bottom or a fish struck."
With such slow fishing, don't expect bone-jarring strikes or frightening surface eruptions. Not everyone can stand to fish this way because it requires considerable patience to probe pockets and difficult to reach cover for subtle strikes.
Anglers watch lines closely for almost imperceptible strikes. When bass hit tubes, they usually just suck them down. Anglers may not detect strikes unless line moves in a contrary direction, vibrates or stops suddenly. Sometimes, it just doesn't feel right or feels "mushy," Rojas explained.
Line should stand up to sharp rocks, logs and other obstructions. For power to pull lunkers from tight places, Jones uses 30-pound braided line attached to a medium-heavy rod about 7.5 feet long to haul heavy bass from thick tangles.
Flipping tubes near heavy cover works best in late winter or early spring when bass move into shallows before spawning. However, some bass stay shallow all year long. Whenever bass remain in water less than eight feet deep, preferably less than five feet deep with visible cover protruding from the surface, anglers might tempt them with tubes.
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