Ten Ways to Fish a Grub
By Margie Anderson
What a horrible little name for such an excellent bait! The word "grub" conjures up some pretty nasty images, unless you’re a bass fisherman. To a bass fisherman, the word grub means fish - big fish, and plenty of them! The humble little grub is one of the most versatile and effective lures you can have in your tackle box, and to prove it we’ll start you out with ten sure-fire ways to catch fish on a grub.
One ~ Topwater Grubbing
Catching bass on a topwater grub rates extremely high on the fun-o-meter. Rig a five to seven-inch grub on a big wide-gap hook (a 4/0 or 5/0), and rig it so the curve of the hook and the curve of the tail are pointing the same way. You can leave the hook exposed if there isn’t much cover sticking out of the water, or skin-hook it if you’re fishing the grub through weeds or brush.
Cast the grub right to shore then just crank it back, swimming it across the top of the water. Phoenix angler John Anderson just loves this technique. "I like to use pretty heavy line so it keeps the grub from sinking," John says, "and I throw it on baitcasting tackle." The big grub is easy to cast even on heavy line, and you’ll need that stout line to set the hook. But keep the nitroglycerin handy - when the fish start slamming this little flapper on top, it’s almost more than a person can stand!
Two ~ Drop-Shot a Grub
What do you do if every fish you see on your graph is suspended? Those horrible hanging bass will often take a little (try the three-inch model) grub if you fish it on a drop-shot rig, right where the bass are hanging out. A grub suspended off a drop-shot rig looks too much like a particularly stupid and tasty minnow for most bass to resist.
Rigging is simple, just tie a straight-shank hook onto your line a few feet up from the end (a Palomar knot is recommended) and then, attach a weight to the end. The distance between hook and weight can be any length you choose, says Mark Townsend of Tempe – he’s the guy that taught me to fish the drop-shot rig.
Use the lightest weight that still allows you to maintain a feel for the bottom. Then, just drop your rig down under the boat and into the suspended fish, and hold on! This is not usually a subtle bite…the fish grab the grub and run.
Three ~ Pea Heads and Cliffs
Yamamoto Pro-Staffer Mike Baldwin has a lot of experience catching fish that really don’t want to cooperate. After all, his home lake is Havasu! In winter, Baldwin likes to put a grub on a little pea-head jig and bounce it down the cliff walls. He rigs the grub with the hook exposed and uses the lightest head he can get away with. The slower the fall, the better, he says, especially in really cold water.
Mike uses spinning gear and Sugoi line so he can feel even the tiniest pecks. (Even the lightest Sugoi line may have more spool memory than you’re accustomed to using with spinning gear. If you decide to try it, don’t overfill the spool, and keep slack line to a minimum. Ed.)
"Cast right to shore and watch your line," Baldwin says. "Let the lure fall until the line goes slack, then lift it up and let it fall to the next level." If the line bounces, twitches, or moves sideways, haul off and reel in your bass, he says. Also, if it feels mushy or heavy when you start to move the grub, set the hook!
Four ~ Trailing a Grub
Grubs are not only fantastic lures to fish unadorned; they make one of the best trailers around. The fat little grub body adds bulk and color to a spinnerbait or buzzbait, and the long, sinuous tail adds an action that no other plastic can match.
Yamamoto Staffer Jim Furr likes to use a big grub, so he chooses the longest tail possible. But, he pinches off a bit of the body so that it just fills up the hook shank, and lets the tail undulate off the back of the lure. The attraction of the grub seems to help him get solid bites, Jim says, especially if the short strikes are being caused by bass hitting the blades, instead of the hook.
You can match the grub to the lure or use a contrasting color to add a different dimension to your presentation. With a grub on the hook, Furr added, you don’t even need the skirt - I’ve caught many a nice bass on a spinnerbait with nothing on it but a grub.
Five ~ Swimming a Grub
Instead of the normal round shape of a ball head, a darter head jig has a slightly rounded, pointed nose. The shape allows it to cut cleanly through the water, and skilled anglers can maneuver them through grass, tules, and brush with ease.
A top California pro named Leroy Bertolero showed me some customized darter heads that he makes for fishing grubs through cover. He flattens the jigheads with a hammer, and then uses Super Glue to attach little eyes to the head. These little eyes can be purchased at any craft or fabric store, and they’re inexpensive. Sometimes Leroy paints the darter heads first.
A grub rigged on one of these looks just like a baitfish swimming by, and you can fish it as fast or as slowly as you like. Leroy finds them to be particularly effective in current, where he lets the water take them right to the fish. Smallmouth are really suckers for this presentation.
Six ~ Grub on a Hair Jig
Pitching a hair jig to tules and grass is a time-honored big-bass technique. Pro-Staffer Mike Baldwin does a lot of this kind of fishing, and instead of the traditional jig and pig, he prefers a jig and a grub. Pork has a tendency to flop around, and can get stuck on the hook, preventing you from getting it into the fish on the hookset. Pork also dries out quickly, and is a bit messy to use and keep.
Grubs, either single or double-tail, make much better jig trailers, Baldwin maintains. He can pick just the perfect color for what he is doing, and he likes the action that the legs or tail gives to the jig. A single tail grub has less of a tendency to wrap around tules than a twin-tail does, but a twin-tail can give the impression of a crawdad.
Mike says the key to his pitching technique is to look for the tules with the darkest water in front of them. This dark water is deeper, and those reeds usually hold more and better fish.
Seven ~ Jerking a Grub
A big grub makes a fantastic twitch bait, says Yamamoto Pro-Staffer Gary Dobyns. He likes to rig a grub weightless, on an open or Tex-posed hook, and twitch it over cover or structure. You fish this weightless grub like a Senko, but it has a little more action because of the tail.
In Gary’s opinion the twitching grub, with its waving tail, moves a lot of water, which can attract bass from greater distances - especially in dirty water or heavy cover. He throws the grub right to shore, and then works it back with erratic twitches of his rod. When you get it over a good-looking tree or some brush, or a hole in the weeds, stop and let it sink for a few seconds before giving it a couple of tiny little tics.
Dobyns warns that the big, weightless grubs often draw savage strikes, so always be ready to set the hook. Another advantage of this jerkbait grub is that it can be worked through even the thickest weeds, without getting snagged like a regular hard jerkbait would.
Eight ~ Flippin’ a Grub
Phoenix angler Jerry Suk taught me to flip many years ago. Since then I’ve been on a flippin’ bite many times, with many different anglers, but I’ve never found a bait that produces better than a big Yamamoto grub.
Jerry keeps about a million, five to seven-inch smoke/sparkle Yamamoto grubs in his boat, and he uses them to coax huge bass out of the heaviest cover you can imagine. Jerry never pegs his sinker – he’s a "line watcher" and says the line twitches a little more if the sinker is loose. He uses a flipping stick that resembles a broomstick, and very heavy line.
The grub, he says, slips through cover easily, especially with the addition of a little scent to "grease it up". If you’d ever fished with Suk you’d swear he was psychic, knowing that a fish was biting through some paranormal means. But as mentioned, Suk is a line-watcher. He drops the grub into trees or brush and the least little disturbance of the line will trigger a swing from him that sounds like a high-voltage power line humming. He’s probably caught more fish on grubs than anyone else I know.
Nine ~ Fishing Gets Tough, The Tough Go Split-Shottin’
When fish do not want to chase down anything fast or gaudy, a split-shot rig may be the only way to get bit. Phoenix pro Gregg Warne knows this better than most - he has been known to move along right behind other anglers, pulling big fish off banks that have just been worked over. The key to his success is patience and the right equipment.
Warne uses a rather stiff spinning rod, a reel that takes up plenty of line quickly, and sharp Gamakatsu hooks. He also uses a lot of grubs. He’ll use the lightest weight that he can feel on the bottom, even if he has to "have a Pepsi" while he waits for his bait to hit bottom.
Gregg drops his rig, lets it hit bottom, then moves it ever so slowly along, right at the depth the fish are holding. For really deep fish, his leader may be three or four feet long. He holds his rod loosely and lets it point back toward the trailing lure. When a fish picks up his grub, he swings the rod up and around, reeling at the same time.
The fine-wire hooks penetrate easily, but you can lose a good fish if you horse it too hard. "Take your time," Warne suggests, "split-shottin’ is not for the hyperactive, but it sure is a good grubbing technique when the fish have lockjaw."
Ten ~ Football Grubs
Possibly the most popular way to fish a twin-tail grub is on a football head jig. Since these jigs come in a raft of sizes, you can fish them at just about any depth, and with a huge variety of presentations. You can drag them on deep-water structure, bounce them down the steep stuff, crash them on rocks, or swim them down the center of a channel.
The possible combinations of skirts and twin-tails are almost infinite. You can match just about any baitfish or crawly thing in any lake. Hula Grubs, in single or double-tail, are also favorites on football heads, but separate skirts and grubs give you a whole lot of mix-and-match color options. This is a jig and grub combo with a reputation for catching big bass, and no serious angler should venture out without a good selection of these lures stashed in his box.
A grub can look like almost anything you want it to, if you know how to work it right. Twitch it, swim it, drag it, or even just left hanging there on a drop-shot rig - a grub is a bait that a bass just can’t seem to resist. With the enormous variety of colors and sizes available, you can find one to suit almost any condition. Try a grub on your favorite rig next time out - they are versatile enough for just about anything, and they really catch fish.