"I probably fish a tube more than anybody," says Michigan pro Art Ferguson. "On St. Clair, I'll have 3 or 4 rods rigged up with Mizmo tubes.

"I've learned over the years that you can catch 5 to 10 times more bass on tube than any other lure," he says, but fish-catching ability is only one reason he favors tubes.

Another is the ability of tubes to mimic different forage. "This time of year bass are on a minnow bite," Ferguson says. "They feed on small shiners and spot- tailed minnows, all of which are about 3 1/2 to 4 inches long. A tube represents those very well."

He fishes lighter-colored tubes near the top of the water, and darker colors on the bottom to represent crayfish. He's able to imitate the various movements of these bait species because "a tube is one of the most versatile baits," he says. "You can hop it, swim it, drag, it and hit particular cover with it."

Tubes for Searching

Ferguson has also learned to use tubes as search baits. "I used to find fish with crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but I've learned to do that with a tube," he says.

"The secret is to fish slowly but cover lot of water quickly, and the key to that is to put your tube in productive areas. Key in on particular structure -- weeds, rocks, current breaks. That way you're only fishing 5 or 6 seconds at any one time. Don't work the tube the 60-70 feet all way back to the boat," he adds.

Catching the Big Ones

When he finds or sees productive structure in the clear water, " that first cast is most important," he says. "Those bigger fish will be aggressive if you hit the cover you need to hit. But if you're a little bit off, the little fish will chase more aggressively."

Once that happens, it can be bad news. "If you get the school riled up -- the whole school coming up each time -- each time the bigger fish will stay farther away until they're spooked. The only way I know to combat that is to get the little fish out really quickly," he says.


On the Great Lakes, "90 percent of the time" Ferguson throws his Mizmo tubes (see www.Mizmo.com) on an Owner 1/4-ounce jig head. "It seems to fall at the best speed," he says.

If he's fishing shallower water he'll use 3/16-ounce, and if he's swimming the bait he'll go to 1/8-ounce. "If I'm fishing deeper water or current, sometimes I'll go to 3/8," he adds.

His rod is a 7-foot Warrior medium-action spinning rod with a fast tip. He also uses a fast reel -- a Shimano Sahara spinning reel. When it comes to reels, "I want at least a 6:1 ratio," Ferguson says. "If a big school of fish comes up in front of me, I want to get the bait out of the water as quickly as I can and cast to those busting fish." Having a high-speed reel "makes all the difference," he says.

He also counsels people to remember that casting to big-bass targets means "you're only fishing 5 to 7 feet of water at a time." So retrieving a lure quickly is important for making the most of a tournament day.

His line of choice is a surprising one: 10-pound Berkley Big Game. That seems a bit heavy, but Ferguson says, "As clear as the water is, smallmouth bass are so aggressive that for most of my fishing I want to use something strong enough for the rocks and weeds. I don't want to hook a bass and be freaking out about breaking it off."