March 12, 2015
By Ned Kehde
Damiki Fishing Tackle USA introduced its three-inch Hydra to American anglers in 2009. And as part of our endeavor to write about finesse baits that were created before the advent of our Midwest finesse column and haven't been part of our repertoire, we will focus on this innovative tube that has yet to the catch the eye of a goodly number of Midwest finesse anglers.
In general, tubes seem to have gone out of fashion for finesse and power anglers. Some knowledgeable observers contend that the demise of the tube began in the late 1990s, when stories about Fred "Taco" Bland's and William Davis' jigs were crisscrossing the great piscatorial grapevine.
Bland of Birmingham, Alabama, called his the Taco Jig, and William Davis of Sylacauga, Alabama, called his the Shaky Head Jig. Both jigs were created in the 1980s, and they had similar dimensions and shapes. But it was not until the late 1990s that the angling world got wind of the impressive array of largemouth bass and spotted bass that were being caught by anglers who were plying the reservoirs on the Coosa River in Alabama with either a Taco Jig or a Shaky Head Jig that was affixed to a soft-plastic worm. And from 2003 through 2006, the shaky-head jig or jigworm became one of the omnipresent and omnipotent baits on the professional bass circuits.
This shaky-head jig or jigworm contagion also spread into the Midwest finesse anglers' world. Until this contagion took hold, a tube was one of the baits that Midwest finesse anglers' usually had at their ready. The origin of Midwest finesse anglers' fascination with tubes stems back to 1983 when Guido Hibdon of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, crossed paths with the late Bobby Garland at Lake Mead, Nevada, during the 1983 U.S. Open bass tournament. After Hibdon returned to Missouri, he began manufacturing tubes and catching untold numbers of largemouth bass on them at the Lake of the Ozarks and other waterways. And as other anglers got wind of Hibdon's wizardry with tubes, they became one of the primary tools in the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers in Kansas and Missouri, and eventually it became a national and multi-national phenomenon with finesse anglers.
According to the Hibdons, the angling world, as are most human endeavors, is regularly beset by the odd and irrational dictates of fashion, and in the eyes of most anglers, the tube is currently unfashionable. Even the Hibdons don't wield it with the regularity that they once did. Yet they say it will still inveigle unending numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass as it did in its so-called heydays.
Daniel Kim of Brea, California, who is Damiki's national sales manager, described the Hydra as a state-of-the-art tube and far surpassing the tubes that Garland and Hibdon employed during their halcyon days of tube fishing. And he hopes it will eventually spawn a tube renaissance.
The Hydra is three inches long. Its torso is somewhat oval shaped, encircled by minute ribs, and endowed with two hook slots. One hook slot is situated along its belly and another is along its back. Its head is flat. The joint where the torso and tentacles meet exhibits the appearance of a rubber band, and it is devoid of the tiny ribs that encompass the torso. It is embellished with 24 tentacles, and each tentacle is tipped with a ball.
Kim says the balls allow the tentacles to move in ways that are impossible for the tentacles on other tubes to move. Even when anglers execute the slightest shake of the tip of their spinning rods, they can cause the tentacles to fan out and then float upwards. When an angler wields it around lairs that are graced with current, the tentacles will move exotically. When an angler employs a deadstick presentation, Kim says, "the tentacles flare open."
Midwest finesse anglers will affix it to a jig with an exposed hook, and it is situated on the jig so that its head is on the collar of the jig and the tentacles are at the end or tail.
Kim says it can be used as a Neko rig. It can be wacky rigged on a jig or on a weightless hook. It can be attached to a jig so that the tentacles are adjacent to the head of the jig. The hook slots allow anglers to rig it Texas-style. Some anglers use it as a trailer on a skirted jig, and others use it on Carolina and Mojo rigs, and others use it on a slip-sinker rig.
It is available in the following colors: Baby Bass, Black Mixed Flake, Black/Blue, Cherry Red, Green Pumpkin Black, Junebug, Original Green Pumpkin, Pearl White, Smoke Black, Smoke Black Silver, Watermelon Black, Watermelon Candy, and Watermelon Red-Black.
A package of 10 cost $4.99.
Endnotes(1) Here is a link to a very short underwater video that features the Hydra rigged on a jig: https://vimeo.com/13323729 .