A tube has been a Midwest finesse standard-bearer since Guido Hibdon of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, crossed paths in 1983 with the late Bobby Garland during the U.S. Open bass tournament at Lake Mead, Nevada. After he was paired with Garland at the tournament, Hibdon introduced the tube to the black bass that inhabit a variety of waterways across the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast, as well as the Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada.
A few years after a pair of Midwest finesse anglers began wielding a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company's Zero affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig on Oct. 12, 2006, at a community reservoir in northeastern Kansas, a significant number of Midwest finesse anglers began hoping that Z-Man's Fishing Products, who manufactures the Zero for Strike King, would make a finesse-size tube out of ElaZtech.
ElaZtech is the unique material that Z-Man uses to make the Zero and several other soft-plastic baits that have become a fixture in the repertoire of many Midwest finesse anglers.
To the delight of these anglers, Z-Man introduced the TRD TubeZ to the angling world at the International Convention of Allied Sportsfishng Trades show on July 12-15 in Orlando, Florida.
Seventeen days before that introduction, Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, filed a brief and two photographs on the Finesse News Network about his recent smallmouth bass pursuits at the Lake of the Woods, Ontario. He noted in that June 25 brief that he caught a smallmouth bass on his second cast with the TRD TubeZ affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
Since 2012, Reese has played a significant role in helping Z-Man design three Midwest finesse baits and a Midwest finesse mushroom-style jig. Those baits and jig are the Hula StickZ, Finesse T.R.D., TRD TubeZ, and Finesse ShroomZ jig.
In his FNN brief, Reese said that he and a friend used the TRD TubeZ, Hula StickZ, and Finesse T.R.D. during their outings at the Lake of the Woods, and they caught well over 100 smallmouth bass during each outing.
Reece is a longtime tube aficionado, and he thinks the TRD TubeZ will become a major tool for Midwest finesse anglers who ply waterways that have been hammered for a decade with the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ, 2 1/2-inch Strike King Zero, and four-inch Z-Man's Finesse WormZ.
On July 1, I fished from 11:15 a.m. to 1:37 p.m. at a heavily fished community reservoir in northeastern Kansas, where the largemouth bass fishing has been extremely lackluster for much of 2015 and 2016. And several Midwest finesse anglers suspect that the largemouth bass have become wary of Midwest finesse tactics. During this two-hour-and-22-minute outing, I tested a green-pumpkin TRD TubeZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig and a California Craw TRD TubeZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I tested these TRD TubeZ rigs against a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
I used each rig for about 45 minutes.
One largemouth bass was caught on the green-pumpkin TRD TubeZ. Seven largemouth bass were caught on the California Craw TRD TubeZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Finesse WormZ rig caught five largemouth bass. The Finesse ShadZ caught two largemouth bass. (As I fished, I periodically regretted that I did not have a Junebug TRD TubeZ to test. Historically, the Junebug hue is the most effective Midwest finesse color to employ in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas.)
On July 15, I fished from 10:01 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. at another heavily fished community reservoir in northeastern Kansas, where several veteran Midwest finesse anglers suspect that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass have become wary of Midwest finesse tactics. And on this three-hour-and-39-minute outing, the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass proved to be very difficult for me to find and catch.
I tested a Molting Craw TRD TubeZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a California Craw TRD TubeZ affixed to a black 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. I tested these two TRD TubeZ rigs against a Z-Man's blue steel Slim SwimZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin-red Super Finesse Worm affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Except for the Slim SwimZ and California Craw TRD TubeZ, I used each rig for about 35 minutes. I used the Slim SwimZ for about 15 minutes and the California Craw TRD TubeZ for about 55 minutes.
The Junebug Finesse WormZ rig caught one smallmouth bass. The green-pumpkin-red Super Worm rig failed to garner a strike. The Finesse ShadZ caught one smallmouth bass. The Slim SwimZ caught one smallmouth bass. The Molting Craw TRD TubeZ caught six largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass. The California Craw TRD TubeZ caught seven smallmouth bass and six largemouth bass.
Across the two outings, I used six Midwest baits for 310 minutes.
I used the three TRD TubeZ rigs for 180 minutes, and they caught 20 largemouth bass and 10 smallmouth bass. The green-pumpkin one caught one largemouth bass. The Molting Craw TRD TubeZ caught six largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass. The California Craw TRD TubeZ caught seven smallmouth bass and 13 largemouth bass.
I used the other Midwest finesse rigs for 130 minutes, and they caught seven largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass.
On the July 1 and July 15 outings, the California Craw TRD TubeZ was the most effective one of the seven Midwest finesse baits that I used.
As the summer, fall, and winter unfold, we will continue to test the effectiveness of the TRD TubeZ. We will focus on other colors of the TRD TubeZ. (Because the water was somewhat stained on July 1, we suspect that the black-blue one would have been more effective than the green-pumpkin, Molting Craw, and California Craw ones that we tested, but we did not have a black-blue one to test.)
It is 2.75 inches long. It possesses 10 round tentacles, which are 1 1/2 inches long. Its cylindrical torso is 1 1/4 inches long. Its torso is pimpled, replicating the pimples on the carapace of a crayfish's exoskeleton. A quarter of an inch of the front portion of the torso is solid, and the rest of it is hollow.
Ten percent of its body weight is impregnated with some salt. But it is very buoyant. In fact, it will float on the surface when it is not affixed to a jig. When it is affixed to a jig and the head of the jig lies on the bottom of a waterway, the TRD TubeZ's buoyancy allows its tentacles and torso to rise to a 90-degree angle above the bottom, and the tentacles undulate and the torso quivers a touch.
I tested it on a mushroom-style jig, round-head jig, darter-head jig, football-head jig, and swim jig. I even threaded it onto a wacky-head jig. And the 90-degree-angle phenomenon occurred with all of those styles of jigs. Of course, Midwest finesse anglers prefer rigging all of their soft-plastic baits on a mushroom-style jig.
Some anglers contend that the hollow portion of a tube excretes air bubbles as the tube plummets from the surface to the bottom of a lake, reservoir, river, or stream. According to these anglers, the bubbles are thought to be alluring in the eyes of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. But during our tests, the TRD TubeZ never excreted more than three tiny bubbles. In my eyes, however, the water in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas is too stained for the bubbles to be an alluring factor.
We have not caught enough black bass on the TRD TubeZ to accurately measure its durability. The California Craw TRD TubeZ has tangled with 20 black bass, and it looks as if it can tangle with many more. As the weeks unfold, we will file a durability update on the Finesse News Network and our Midwest Finesse columns.
It is made in the following colors: Black/Blue, California Craw, Canada Craw, Green Pumpkin, Molting Craw, Mudbug, PB&J, and The Deal.
The suggested retail price for a package of six is $4.49. As of July 15, one online retailer is selling them for $3.99.
As Reese hinted, the TRD TubeZ has the potential to spark a renaissance in tube fishing, which has been in the doldrums for a number of years.
In the weeks to come, we will publish an update on the TRD TubeZ. This update will feature the river tactics for smallmouth bass that Travis Myers of Paw Paw, Virginia, employs.