Across the decades, we have written thousands of words about the late and great Guido Hibdon’s contributions to Midwest finesse fishing, and one of his greatest influences revolves around his work with a tube. That task commenced in the summer of 1983, when he was paired with the late Bobby Garland of Kingman, Arizona, who introduced Guido to the manifold virtues of a tube, at the U.S. Open tournament on Lake Mead, Nevada. Then after that eye-opening day afloat with Garland, Guido, who lived in Gravois Mills, Missouri, began to introduce the tube to us and the black bass that inhabit various waterways in the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast.
And since Strike King Lure Company introduced its Bitsy Tube to the angling world in 2000, it has played a significant role in the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers. Thus, when Strike King introduced its 2.75-inch Coffee Fat Tube at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in Orlando, Florida, on July 10-13, 2018, it stirred an interest in the minds, hearts, and souls of a goodly number of the old-school Midwest finesse anglers, who want to alert the newcomers to the art and sport of Midwest finesse fishing with a small tube. These old-timers immediately suggested that we publish a gear guide about this new tube, and we agreed with them.
To accomplish this task, we talked and exchanged emails with Mark Copley of Collierville, Tennessee, who is Strike King’s Marketing Relationship Manager, and he sent us a package of them to examine and describe.
According to our measurements, the size of them varies a touch. Some are 2 3/4 inches long, and some are 2 13/16 inches long.
The hollow torso is 1 3/16 inches long. It is three-eighths of an inch wide at its widest spot with a circumference of about 1 1/4 inches.
The number of tentacles fluctuates from 14 to 16. A few of them are an inch long, some are 1 5/8 inches long, and most are slightly shorter than 1 5/8 inches.
It is available in the following colors: Goby Lishish, Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin Gold Green Flake, Green Pumpkin Purple, KVD Kick, Light Melon Purple, Magic Goby, Road Kill, Smoke Gold Purple Flake, Smoke Red/Black, and Watermelon Candy Green Pumpkin.
They are impregnated with salt and coffee bean granules and oil. They are buoyant. The epidermis is smooth.
A package of nine costs $4.95.
(1) Here is a link to Strike King Lure Company’s website: http://www.strikeking.com/
(2) There are a goodly number of opinions about the best way to rig a finesse tube like the 2.75-inch Fat Coffee Tube.
Most Midwest finesse anglers will rig the Fat Coffee Tube with an internal jig. But there is a difference of opinions about internal jigs. Some prefer an internal jig that possesses a hook eye with a 60-degree bend, and others opt for a jig that has a hook eye with a 90-degree bend. The anglers who prefer the 90-degree bend say that it creates a swirling motif as it plummets from the surface towards the bottom, which they think is alluring to the eyes of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass. The anglers who prefer the 60-degree bend say that the 90-degree bend is too prone to become snagged around rocks and other underwater obstacles.
A few Midwest finesse anglers will prefer affixing the 2.75-inch Fat Coffee Tube to an external jig, which is the way Bobby Garland taught Guido Hibdon how to use a tube at Lake Mead in 1983. (Here is a link to a YouTube that features Dion Hibdon explaining the virtues of an external jig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lzvXptZpYA
Besides the controversy about external versus internal jigs, there is a debate about the weight of the jig. Guido Hibdon taught us to opt for the lightest weight as possible. But there are anglers who are not Midwest finesse anglers, such as Mark Zona of Sturgis, Michigan, who wields tubes that are affixed to a heavy internal jig. For instance, when Zona is in pursuit of smallmouth bass in four to 11 feet of water in northern waterways, his jigs weigh from five-sixteenths of an ounce to a half of an ounce, and he employs a rapid and erratic retrieve. (Here is a YouTube that focuses on his rationalization for employing heavy jigs with a tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mkp9fxF7Tg
.) Zona somewhat subtly noted that he is the antithesis to Guido Hibdon’s ideas about employing a tube with a small jig. In fact, Zona even described his jigs as bowling balls.
Across the years, however, we found that around the flatland reservoirs in the nation’s Heartland that a small jig, weighing from 1/16- to 3/32-ounce, is more effective than a heavy one. And when we work with a tube affixed to a small jig, we present it to our black bass quarries by employing the standard Midwest finesse retrieves. (Here is a link to the Midwest finesse column that describes how to execute those retrieves: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/.