"You can fish it in several different ways. You can swim it and imitate a baitfish, or you can jig it and imitate a crawfish. You can use it for largemouth and smallmouth bass, and you can fish it in rivers or in lakes.
"I do most of my fishing on the New River for smallmouths, and smallmouths are crazy about crawfish. I prefer colors that create the impression of a crawfish, and my favorite color is dark watermelon with a red flake.
"It's very effective on smallmouths. I like to joke that the best imitation of a tube bait is a crawfish."
"For me, it depends on the type of bass fishing I'm doing," said Dowler, a former tournament angler and retired Division of Natural Resources wildlife chief.
"If I were smallmouth fishing, it would be a [plastic] jig or grub; if I were largemouth fishing, it would be a 7-inch rubber worm, black or pumpkin-colored, fished Texas-style.
"The 7-inch worm is really a very, very versatile lure. It can be fished shallow or deep, just by varying the size of the weight. I like it because the Texas rig makes it weedless, and that allows you to keep it in contact with the structure at all times. When you're fishing rocks or stumps or [sunken trees], you can really feel what's going on down there."
"The tube jig," said Randy Huffman, Secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection and avid bass angler, when asked for his favorite.
"I focus on smallmouth fishing on the New and Kanawha rivers, and that's the most effective lure I've found for that purpose. It's really versatile - you can hop it, you can swim it or you can just dead-stick it. The versatility makes it a go-to bait. I would challenge anyone to take any lure on the Kanawha and try to equal it.
"Given we're primarily fishing rock and wood cover, with crawfish as the primary food base, tube baits make sense because they imitate crawfish really well. My favorite color is green pumpkin with gold, blue or red flake. In dirty water, I like black. And I rig mine Texas-style to make them weedless."
"I love buzzbaits," said Preston, the DNR's current fisheries chief.
"To me, they're the most fun lures you can fish. You can cover a lot of water with them, and there's nothing more fun than watching a bass blow up on one as it skims along the surface.
"I prefer smaller buzzbaits, usually 1/8 ounce. With a light, 6 1/2-foot spinning rod, you can cast those little buzzbaits all day long. The best times to fish them are early or late in the day, but bass will often take them even during the heat of the day, especially on smallmouth streams."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or call 304-348-1231.