The Turn - Around Tube Technique Gains Credibility
on Lake Champlain
The Kip Bodkin Story
By Mickey Maynard
Professional BASS fisherman Kip Bodkin of Rhome, Texas was in Plattsburgh recently competing in his rookie year on the Citgo Professional Bassmaster Northern Tour. This humble itinerant angler runs a security business in the Fort Worth, Texas area when he’s not on the tournament trail. He contacted us at LakeChamplainAngler.com two weeks prior to the Northern Tour event and we went scouting together to scope out a few good locations and find a successful pattern or two. We fished together for several days and covered lots of water. Our efforts eventually paid off. We ended up doing quite well, catching good-sized smallmouth off the edges of several weedbeds in 15-18 feet of water. Jigs and tubes were the hot baits, but one unusual pattern emerged using a tube in a sort of “turn about” fashion. It turned out to be the story of the tournament for Bodkin as the method lifted him to 17th place.
The first time I heard of this off the wall technique was from a friend and coworker who was boasting about catching a good number of large smallmouth on a spot that gets a great deal of pressure from both locals and professional anglers alike. He mentioned that he was throwing tubes, so I asked him if he was using any particular variation. My friend proceeded to tell me about a former Gander Mountain employee who gave him his first lesson in tube bait rigging. The store worker actually instructed him to slide the jighead in backwards so that the head was in essence looking out of the hole of the tube through the middle of the skirt. Set up this way, the lure appeared a little like a football head jig with its rubber band skirt set just below the head of the jig. Either this Gander employee stumbled onto the reverse application and found success, or he knew nothing about how to conventionally hook up a tube. Anyway, my friend, not knowing the difference, hit the water and applied the method rigging up his young sons and himself with these turn-around tubes. The result amazed the entire family as they proceeded to catch and release an impressive mess of otherwise finicky smallmouth bass, as several other desperate fishermen in wrapped boats circled around them. If a wacky rigged Senko works, why not a turn-around tube?
As I related this story to Kip Bodkin on our second day out together, I saw his eyes light up a bit. I had no idea he would actually spend some of his valued practice time up here trying such an unconventional method. On his first cast, with the jighead looking out the butt of his 3-inch Venom tube, Kip hooked and boated a nice 3-pound smallie. “Must be coincidence” I said as Kip reset the hook and continued to cast the awkward looking lure. Moments later he hooked up with another decent fish. In the next hour Bodkin landed several more tournament sized bass with the contraption. I could see his confidence building as a pattern emerged and he tweaked his technique. “It chugs and bubbles along down there when you give it a little pop, and I like the resistance too”, Bodkin said. He also emphasized how the hook could be set up in a weedless fashion if the weeds get thick.
Kip Bodkin applied the backwards technique on the first and second days of the three-day Lake Champlain event and easily made the cut for the finals. He placed high on the leaderboard on each of the preliminary days totaling just below the thirty-pound mark. On the last day of the event wind and weather conditions eroded and Bodkin was forced to change tactics a bit, setting the turn-around tube aside in favor of a dropshot rig as he finished up in 17th place overall.
Be assured that Kip Bodkin will long remember how the odd tube application boosted him into the finals, and his best finish yet, on his first trip to Lake Champlain. A little imagination and a turn-around tube will surely remain a big part of his arsenal as he travels across the country competing on the BASS, Professional Bassmaster Tour.
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