Bob McNally – USA Guest Author
Bill Siemantel is a Los Angeles fireman who in his home state of California is something of a fishing legend. Bill has caught nearly 300 bass weighing 10 pounds or more, including many bass weighing in the teens.
Reasons for his success? First he lives in big bass rich southern California and regularly taps the well-known lunker havens of Lake Casitas and Castaic Lake. He’s also a seasoned and highly skilled deep-water structure fisherman, who knows bass and their habits far better than most anglers. But more important, he includes in his arsenal of artificials giant soft plastic tube lures most bass fishermen believe are far too large to dupe even lunkers. They are massive, multi-tenacle creatures 8-inches long, fatter than a healthy bratwurst, and looking more like something destined for billfish not bass.
But Siemantel has the hero bass pictures, video tapes and in-the-boat witnesses to prove his claim of over 100 largemouths each weighing over 10 pounds on giant tubes, as well as countless fish in the 5 to 10 pound range. He’s won large, big dollar bass tournaments on giant tubes, and has documented many banner days of lunker fishing, including one where he boated a pair of 12-pounders using the unique lures.
“Big tube baits in the 6- to 8-inch range just do something to big bass,” claims Bill. “I know a lot of people think this is all hype, but it’s not. The right oversize tubes, rigged and fished correctly, in the right spots on a lake, are pure poison on heavyweight largemouths.”
Bill is quick to point out that giant tube lures are not an automatic ticket to successful bass fishing. They must be fished in the right areas, around structure, along weed edges, deep humps, riprap, etc. But given that, and they are rigged and retrieved correctly, they are incredibly productive.
Soft plastic tube lures have been around for over a decade, with Bobby Garland’s “Gitzit” among the first and most famous of a long line of similar baits produced by dozens of tackle companies. The lures usually range 2 to 4 inches long, but Garland made a 6-inch “Tora Tube” briefly in the mid-1990s. Soon another giant 12-inch long tube called the “Monster Tube” hit the market, says Siemantel.
“It was huge, and hard to cast and fish, but I started catching giant bass with it, and with the Tora Tube,” he recalls. “But the lures didn’t go over well and after a month or so they left the market. I bought all I could find, locating hundreds of them in tackle store discount bins.”
With oversize tube lures no longer available commercially, Bill hoarded and guarded all the big lures he could put his hands on. He painstakingly experimented over the years how to rig, fish and set hooks with the giant plastics. He learned to use 8-foot long, two-handed plug rods and 25-pound test line to work lures correctly, and drive hooks through giant wads of plastic into big bass that struck. His catches of oversize largemouths with tubes became renowned, though no one could duplicate his success.
His expertise and reputation for busting big bass with giant lures led to the development of the Lindy Tackle “Tiger Tube,” available in 6- and 8-inch versions. The lures come pre-rigged, with jig heads and large treble hook trailers (connected with wire) to the specifications of Bill Siemantel. The first two prototype “Tiger Tubes” Bill tested he caught over 100 pounds of L.A. bass in two days, including a 12-pounder from Lake Castaic.
Bill says giant tube lures are deadly on lunker bass for a variety of reasons. For one, the lures have a unique “swimming” or “gliding” action that can’t be duplicated with any other bait. Like all tubes they’re bulky, yet hollow and lighter weight than if made of solid plastic, so they’re easier to cast and set hooks with.
Their large size is an appealing target for giant bass, a meal they don’t mind chasing down, according to Bill. They’re also extremely versatile, easily fished from shallow cover to deep structure. Bill has caught 10 pounders on tubes from grass beds two feet deep, flooded timber, and open water 50 feet down!
“It’s a great run-and-gun lure, and can be used to jig and ‘rip’ the bottom, or fished like a spinner-bait in trying to locate bass,” he contends. “It’s also an outstanding ‘seasonal’ lure, because it looks like a ‘ball’ of young shad minnows, which bass love. It also imitates a trout, an important prey species bass feed on heavily wherever they co-habit. When fished on bottom, a big tube looks like a giant crawfish. It’s a dynamite lure for suspended bass, and hard-to-entice ones right after the spawn. Most bass have never seen giant tube lures, so they work well on finicky fish in hard-pressured or clear water.
“I’ve sent giant tubes to friends around the country and they work on big bass everywhere they’ve been tried. They’ve also accounted for a lot of huge striped bass, big pike, lake trout and some monster-size muskies. In saltwater they shine, too, for striped bass, cobia, redfish and big spotted seatrout.”