It was 1945 when Capt. George Parker stopped by the renovation of the Kona Inn, spotting some leftover chrome pipe. He had an idea that would lead to creating the modern bill-fish lure as we know it today. Parker took the pieces of chrome tube, inserted some wooden dowel, chopped the face on an angle and attached red rubber inner-tubing as skirts. His first trip out saw him return with a 500lb blue marlin.
The lure design had straight sides with an angled face that would continually charge the water's surface, with visible splashing, mimicking that of a distressed fleeing baitfish. Parker went on to catch many large billfish with his chrome pipe lures, and in November 1954, he landed his first official grander, weighing in 1,002lb. The same fish was the first identified Pacific blue marlin, though only after taking legal action against the IGFA to identify his catch correctly.
The innovation of the tube continued through the 1950s with Henry Chee, a sports fisherman that had been chasing marlin since 1925, Chee figured out he could create the same cylindrical shape as Parkers tube by pouring resin into old bar glasses and then shaping the skirt shoulder in a lathe, his idea coming from seeing a screwdriver set in resin in an old olive jar leftover from a boat repair. Chee went on to add pearl inserts, his 'lucky seven' lure had a pair of dice showing two sixes, and he even experimented with lead to create ballast – there we have it, a keel weighted tube trolling lure produced almost 70 years ago.
The tube design mimics that of a distressed baitfish, smashing the surface, darting side to side, creating a commotion that will light up any marlin. Pioneer lure maker Scott Crampton has earned a reputation as having one of the best tubes in the business. Aloha smash-baits and Weston Leslie tubes would be the next top pick of many pro teams. Blue marlin will target your tube and have no problem lining it up, best rigged with 400-500lb mono and 180 degrees double hook stiff rig.
Tubes, more of a surface lure, can be less tolerant to rough seas or high wind, increasing the importance of weighted inserts when the sea lifts. Many crews will run their tubes from the corner positions or short rigger unless they are weighted and therefore more tolerant. In glassy conditions, don't hesitate to drop your tube further back in the spread. A little 10" on the long rigger may provide the action needed to get things going.
SETTING UP A TEAM
Don't underestimate the allure of a tube when targeting stripe marlin. Run on the short corner or long corner. A 12" or 14" tube will play its part in teasing fish into your spread, and at the very least, firing it up to nail that easy-eat plunger, hard head, or bullet fished further back.
Check out our range of Wes Leslie Tubes for your next blue marlin mission. Enter the discount code TUBE at checkout and get 15% off the Wes Leslie tube range. No minimum spend, limited to one use per customer.