It boggles the mind why the tube and worm works so well, but it just does. Many striped bass large and small have been taken while trolling the tube and worm or casting it out into the surf. I had the privilege to go out several years ago with Pete Santini, the authority of the use of the tube and worm for big fish. Here’s what you need to know to catch a cow on the tube and worm.
When it comes to tube and worm, they come in a large variety of colors. Black and Red catch more than all of the others combined by a factor of 20X. All of the tubes turn and twist as you troll or retrieve them, so a good swivel (or multiple) is a good investment to avoid line twist.
At Fly Guy Guides we primarily use two different types of tube and worm setups.
The Santini Tube can be found at Pete Santini’s shop, Fishing Fanatics, in Everett MA. It has a small egg weight built into the front and a spinning blade that attracts more attention. This helps make sure it gets down quickly and rides nice and level in the water column. They seem to last a LONG time before they need to be replaced and can catch a ton of big fish and show very little wear.
The only drawback to the Santini Tube is that with the extra weight, if you are in shallow water and don’t want to drag ground you’ll have to troll it very close to the boat where the engine will spook a lot of the fish before they can see the tube. For deeper water though, this is by far the best option!
Hogy SI Perfect Tube
The Hogy SI Perfect Tubes are another really good choice for tube and worms. They have a weighted option although I’ve never actually used them. They twist in the water like a corkscrew and since they’re unweighted, can be let out much further distances from the motor in shallow water.
They do fade in color extremely fast though and become almost a tinted clear. They are more transparent than the Santini tubes to start off with, I’m not sure if that’s an advantage or not though personally.
Presentation and Use
Find the biggest and juiciest sea worm you can find and hook it through the face. If for some reason you can’t get any of them, the Berkeley Gulp Sandworms work but not as well. You’ll be either trolling or retrieving the tube and worm through the strike zone nice and slow. With tube and worm, you don’t set the hook like you would with a J-hook or treble hook, rather the fish usually set themselves as long as you keep the lure continuously moving and under pressure. Stripers tend to hit it sideways then slide down the tube until they get caught on the lip.
Rig up your main line to a good swivel, then tie in a 6′ section of 50 lb fluorocarbon leader, then another swivel to the tube.
In most cases you’ll be running the tube and worm just barely off the bottom. If you are marking fish in a different part of the water column, adjust your depth and speed accordingly to drop the tube and worm right on the nose of the waiting striper and hold on for a fight!
In a boat, you’ll mostly be trolling a tube and worm around structure or around areas where stripers frequent. In most cases you’ll want it just off the bottom. This can be achieved with straight mono or braid and a leader, but a better way to control your depth more precisely is with lead core line or wire line. Best bet is to hold the rod horizontally, but you can also leave them in your rod holders and wait for the tell tale bobbing of the tod tip.
A conventional reel with 50lb lead core line will get you roughly 6′ deep for every color you let out. Let out the line slowly before you get into the strike zone so you don’t end up caught up on the bottom, then feel for bottom. If you’re dragging at all, pick up a little to get it just off the bottom, watch your depth, and adjust accordingly.
Wireline trolling requires special setups dedicated just to wire line trolling. Plan for about 1′ of depth for every 10′ of wire let out on the Santini tube. The same principles apply as with lead core line to feel for bottom and adjust as needed.
When kayak fishing you generally don’t want to drag along multiple setups that are single purpose (or at least not many purpose). You’ll generally be using the same rod and reel setup for casting plugs, soft plastics, and trolling your tube and worm. This isn’t a problem and can be an advantage in many ways. Troll the tube and worm as slow as you can and along the bottom just like the other methods, but here it’s important to keep the rod horizontal to the water and either adjust your speed or depth. Better to adjust the depth and try to stay as slow as possible though.
Tube and worms can be cast just like your favorite lure or plug and slowly retrieved. This works best parallel to the beach if you can, but can work just as well straight out or at angles. Cast it out as far as you can, let it sink, and start to retrieve just fast enough to let us skim just need the bottom.