My all time favorite bait to fish for bass and especially smallmouth bass is a tube. If I were only to take one lure to go bass fishing this would be my bait of choice. The tube is probably the most versatile bait to fish for smallmouth bass. This bait can be fished from top to bottom and you only need three colors to cover all the situations you will encounter when fishing for smallmouth bass in lakes and reservoirs.
Let's start with discussing how to fish a tube on the bottom and what colors are the most productive. First when picking a color think about what you want to imitate, for example if you are wanting to imitate a crawfish you will want to pick a color like green pumpkin which looks identical to a crawfish, or if you wanting to imitate baitfish on the bottom you'll want to pick a color such as smoke.
Now lets talk about how to rig the tube and what works best when fishing for smallmouth bass. Nine times out of ten I will choose to use a jig head pushed up inside the tube rather than texas rigging the tube. When using a jighead with the hook exposed you will get a lot better action out of the tube as you pop it along the bottom. Also when it drops to the bottom it will spiral down which causes a reaction strike to occur if passing by a bass on it's way down. Texas rigging a tube can be a great way to fish heavy cover such as trees and weed lines but often smallmouth are found around rocks and deep drop offs which just screams tube fishing. When fishing these deep rocks and drop offs use a pop and drop technique when fishing the tube. Meaning pop the tube up off the bottom with a couple of quick twitches of the rod then let it drop back down to the bottom. This erratic motion looks like a crayfish trying to escape and the bass will often hit the tube when it begins to fall again. This pop and drop technique also works great with the smoke colored tube because it looks like an injured baitfish scurrying along the bottom.
Next lets talk about fishing for the suspended bass looking for baitfish and how to utilize a tube fishing for these fish. Using a smoke colored tube with a 1/8 ounce jighead will allow you to target these fish and get a lot of strikes. What you want to do is cast out as far as you can then let tube sink for a while till the tube gets halfway to the bottom or in the thermocline. Then pop the tube up with several quick jerks of the rod then let the tube sink down again. Repeat this all the way back to the boat. This is especially effective during the fall months when smallmouth will congregate in large groups feeding on baitfish off primary and secondary points.
Finally fishing the top with a white tube can be an awesome why to catch smallmouth when they are looking to the surface for a meal. Using a Magnum Flipping Tube in White Pearl and texas rigging it with no weight will allow you to fish the tube on the surface or just below the surface. Often smallmouth will take a white tube off the top much faster than taking other soft plastic lures on the top due to it's smaller and fatter size. To fish these on the top you'll want to use a swivel up from the hook used to texas rig the tube to keep your line from getting all twisted from the tube spinning and darting around. This is especially a good idea if you are using spinning tackle and will save you from getting a ton of loops. If you are using a baitcasting reel the problem with twists isn't as bad. Just simply cast out the weightless tube and jerk it back to the boat using a jerk, jerk, pause technique.
Finally, experiment to see what works best in your favorite smallmouth lake. I guarantee that you will catch bass on Tubes and I'm sure they will become your bait of choice in no time.