One of the deadliest tactics for catching striped bass in the Northeast is the tube and worm, an odd-looking lure that has baffled anglers for years. There’s no doubt the tactic produces explosive strikes from all size stripers, but the strange rig with two feet of rubber tubing and a small hook defies logic. When action is hot, slow trolling through striper haunts can produce up to 100 fish in one day. Best of all, the tactic is simple.
How to Fish With a Tube and Worm
Many people wonder how a rubber tube can be so successful for striped bass. Tipping the hook with a piece of sandworm adds natural scent, but the rig doesn’t look appetizing to me.
Then I remember striped bass eat more than baitfish. A good deal of their diet is worms and crustaceans. To a striped bass, a tube and worm rig looks like an easy meal.
Trolling the tube and worm around structure is perfect for kayak anglers. Trolling at two miles per hour is a comfortable pace for a pedal pusher or paddler. The rig allows anglers to cover water and locate fish. Best of all, the tube and worm can fire the bite when striped bass are lazing around.
Tube and worm rigs come in many colors, my favorite is red. I carry a variety of lengths, from 12 to 24 inches. Some models have a weighted head to sink deeper or spinner blades for dirty water.
Striper can be finicky. Length, thickness and weight of the lure can affect whether the fish bite. My go-to tubes are Hogy’s 19-inch SI Perfect Tube or T-Man Snake Series. Local tackle shops make their own versions. When I visit a new area, I always pick up a couple hometown favorites.
The most critical step is adding the sandworm. Purchase fresh, live worms from a local tackle shop. Artificial sandworms will work, but nothing beats the real thing. I start the day with natural worms and keep a few packs of artificials for back up.
The best plan is to troll the tube and worm less than two miles per hour. Maintaining a steady speed not only dials in the lure’s action, but it improves the hookset when a striped bass hits.
I prefer a fast-action rod that bends deeply when a big striped bass hits. The tube and worm is most effective in water less than 10 feet deep. I have found success in deeper water by adding an egg sinker or keel weight to the lure.
In dirty water, add a spinner blade. I usually troll two rods, with different size and weight tubes to cover more water. I use a seven-foot conventional rod and 6500 reel spooled with 40-pound braid and a three-foot length of 40-pound fluorocarbon leader. Attach the leader to the lure with a 75-pound-test snap swivel.
Catch More Fish With the Tube and Worm
The tube and worm is a must-have in any striper angler’s arsenal. And the through wire and tough rubber tube can survive a bluefish’s chompers. To an angler, the tube and worm might not look like much. But to big rockfish and blues, it looks like dinner.
This article was first published in Kayak Anger Issue 44. Subscribe to Kayak Anger and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos or browse the digital archives for your desktop here.
Striped bass can’t turn down the tube and worm. | Feature photo: Dennis Suler