Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

Shop @ Bassdozer Store | Lures, Rods, Reels | Boats, Motors, Electronics | Expert Articles | Reports | States | News | Forums | Tournaments | Clubs | Federations | Guides | Links | Books | Magazines | Surf Fishing | About Us  | Terms of Use

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

By Russ Bassdozer


Hi, it's Russ Bassdozer here. I hope you will enjoy reading this book about grub fishing! It's long, but there's a lot of useful grub fishing info. In each chapter you will learn advanced techniques to fish for bass with soft plastic curly tail grubs, spider jigs and hula grubs. Make no mistake, grubs are universal fish-catching tools. If I had to pick only one lure to use the rest of my life? It would be a grub! - Russ Bassdozer

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

Chapter 1
The Lowdown on the Lowly Grub
Grubs Get No Respect

Background. Mister Twister was the original major marketer of the "curly tail" concept in the early 1970s. They popularized three basic designs: a 4 inch narrow-bodied twister; a 5 inch fat-bodied, broad-tailed twister; and a 6 inch twister tail worm. Today, almost all soft plastic manufacturers make curly tail grubs or worms that closely follow the same popular designs.

Name Some Names. Here is a partial list of some of the high quality grubs on the market today:

Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits

4" & 5" Single Tail Grub


3" & 5" Lunker Grub & Triple Threat

Allen Lures

3.5" & 5" Fat Grub

Lunker City

4" HydroTail Grub

Bobby Garland's

5" Magnum with Eyes, 4" Hyper Tail

There's really no reason to single out the above grubs. Most all manufacturers make grubs and they're all good. Most of the tips and tactics below can be applied to most any brand of grub. So although a brand or model is mentioned, how to use all grubs is generic. With that being said, I do write from experience, mostly using Yamamoto grubs. Regarding some others named above, I am not sure if Allen Lures is still be in business, and neither may Bobby Garland. However, popular molds do change hands often. Successful grub models tend to resurface and get remarketed again under new brand names.

Allen Lures for instance, that grub model may have been marketed before Allen by Ditto and at some time at or before then, it may have been associated with Tony Bean, a legendary Southern smallmouth master. It is a good grub model. I always liked it, but I have lost track of where or who may make it today.

Kalin's Salty Lunker Grubs are unique in one way. They have the thinnest tails on any grubs. As far as I know, no other grub on the market even comes close to having as thin a tail as Kalin's Salty Lunker Grub. This is true for both the 3" and the 5" models. These tails wiggle seductively with the slightest movement by the angler, or even from water or current movement as the grub lays idle on the bottom.

One way these grubs can be used that others can't is on light tackle 6-8 lb test or less - on 1/32 or 1/16 ounce jig heads. Most other grub tails are too thick to paddle on such light jig heads. The Kalin's will. And as long as we are on the topic of Kalin's grubs, I like the black/red flake; the smoke pepper copper flake (which has an excellent milky whitish tint); and I like to take the orange/red flake and spot and mottle it with a black laundry marker. Their white's good too! I've caught an awful lot of light tackle bass on those color Kalin's.

East versus West. If you ever care to notice, you'll find what's written about curly tail grubs often apply to fishing western waters where anglers use "finesse" techniques like shaking, splitshotting and doodling their grubs in clear, deep reservoirs. Or the articles are about smallmouth fishing in huge, deep southern impoundments. At one time being a native new Yorker, I am glad to report that grubs work equally well in the Northeast, in any size and type of water and under all conditions day or night. They catch largemouth in major rivers like New York's Hudson, Boston's Charles, Washington's Potomac, and Montreal's Saint Lawrence Seaway. They catch smallmouth in the Great Lakes, in the Delaware as it journeys through New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and in the Connecticut River as it flows through that state and Massachusetts. They work in every smaller river, branch, canal and feeder stream and in countless public water supply reservoirs, municipal park lakes, and private farm ponds. Indeed almost any northeastern body of water at least one acre and with a winter-over depth of 8 feet has the potential to sustain bass. And if it holds bass, I have no doubt that I can catch them on single tail grubs using the following techniques. Indeed, grubs work worldwide on any body of bass water

Darters.. I would like to start by telling you about a truly special and enjoyable technique for early spring, which is to swim a 5 inch fat-bodied broad-tailed grub over clear, cold shoreline flats. Early spring is one time of the year when a larger grub can produce better fishing than the 4 inch version. I like the fat Kalin's grubs for this. At first blush of spring, try to make it down to the water on a mild day. Use a medium light rod with ultra-thin 8 pound test line. A one thirty-second or sixteenth ounce jighead with a thin wire 3/0 hook is essential for producing the winning lure motion. Rigged on a center-balanced darter type jighead with the curly tail pointing down, the 5 inch grub tracks in a tight zigzag pattern as it swims. I make my own darters from a Do-It Minnow Head mold that I drilled out to accept 3/0 hooks. Another rig that's more weedless is Charlie Brewer's Snagless Slider Head (item # WSH16) with the curly tail pointing up to create a wide, side-rolling action. Cast up onto the flats and swim the grub back over the tops of logs, snags and last year's weedbeds. Keep the rod tip at ten o'clock and reel in slow and straight. Flick the wrist to produce an alluring dart and hesitation every so often. As the grub nears the shoreward side of weeds or snags, quickly flick the rod tip to make the lure dart and hesitate. Then abruptly drop the rod tip to mend some slack into the line so the grub spirals down onto clear bottom. White or chartreuse are awesome colors for this early season action.

Ripping. By mid-spring, slowly swim the big grubs just above new moss beds and tick the tops of the weed patches that are starting to grow now on the sunnier cove bottoms. As water weeds bloom, try "ripping" the big grubs back. Cast across the cove or way down the bank. Hold the rod tip down to the side and reel slowly. After a few turns of the reel handle, snap the rod tip back and to the side. Let the bait pause now and then after you rip it or when it tears off weeds. Bass will often strike as the lure pauses. Due to the new weed growth, use streamlined jig heads with wireguards, one sixteenth ounce with thin 3/0 hooks. Rig the grubs with the tail down for proper movement.

Probing Deeper. As the season progresses into summer, you can keep using the 5 inch grubs in deeper areas (10 to 30 feet) to catch lunker bass. Use one-eighth to one-quarter ounce wireguard jig heads such as Oldham's Grass/Moss Screw-Locks. Probe deep weed edges, bars and current lines in big lakes and rivers. To keep fishing shallow after late spring, it is usually more productive to use the 4 inch swimming grub.

Swimming grubs. Use the 4 inch single tail grub on a medium light spinning rod with ultra-thin 12 pound test line. Just swim the grub straight back in or use a slow, steady sweeping rhythm. Try retrieves just under the surface, at various mid-depth levels, and just above the bottom. A one-eighth ounce jig with a tapered wedge type head and a 1/0 forged hook is best. Use 8-10 short, stiff fibers to make a sparse weedguard. Fan the fibers far out to the sides so that they guard the hook from snags all around rather than just in front. If you learn to master the skill of setting the hook properly, the fiberguard will not cause you to lose fish - even in open water. Here's how. As the grub swims along, a fish may pick it up and keep moving towards you and off to one side. Just continue to reel in deliberately and at the same time move the rod tip down and extend your rod arm down in front of you. It is definitely not good to let the line go slack or come too tight when you do this. It is usually okay if you find that you are putting slightly extra steady tension on the line. This all needs to happen in the space of a few seconds, Then start to bring your rod up towards your shoulder as you reel faster and sweep the rod tip back overhead. This stretches the line and starts to pull the jig out of the fish's mouth. At that instant, the fish will clamp down hard on the bait, depress the fibers and help the hook point stick in a spot. When the fish makes its initial run against a tight line, you must follow through with a couple of short tugs to set the hook into the fish's mouth past the barb.

Line-watching. If you do not get a pick-up as you swim the grub along, just wait until it bumps into anything in its path, including weeds, rocks or wood. The streamlined shape of the head and the fiber weedguard make this lure highly snag resistant. When it hits something, snap the jig crisply to excite any fish that may be nearby and also to shake off any debris that it may have picked up on impact. It is very important when you select jigs that there is no crevice where weeds can lodge between the eye of the hook and the nose of the jig. Also, rig the tail curling up, so snags do not catch it or small fish do not nip at it and tear it off as much. If it feels like something has fouled the bait, keep snapping the rod tip sharply until the grub feels clean as it falls. Let the lure flutter down to the bottom and lie there. If you snapped the rod tip right, the line will be floating high and loose on the surface and you will be holding the rod tip at two o'clock. Just squint at the line intently where it enters the water and anticipate that at any moment the line is going to jump and then streak across the surface as a bass picks up your offering and runs off with it. This is the most intense moment in fishing. A bass is hustling off with your bait yet you must hold back and lower your rod tip down to the water. As the fish starts to pull the line tight, set the hook as described in the preceding paragraph. Follow through to pull the barb home as the fish runs.

Shake n' Bake. If you do not get a pick-up while line-watching, then "shake n' bake". Raise the rod tip high enough overhead to bring all the floating line up off the surface of the water and into mid-air except where the line enters into the water. Now reel in excess slack so that when you lower the rod tip back to about two o'clock there is a loose belly in the line. Start to shake the rod tip fast from noon to two o'clock. Shake up and shake down, Faster. You need to have that little slack belly of the line rapidly oscillating up and down, cutting an arc in mid-air. The jig should not move forward along the bottom when you do this. Really shake it up good for five or more seconds. Then stop shaking and let the line fall to float loosely on the surface again. This is the "bake" part - and also when to expect to get bit! You should repeat the shake n' bake sequence several times before moving the jig forward. When you are finally ready to crawl the jig forward, do so only after letting the lure bake for a long while. Often fish will just sit motionless and watch the grub shake n' bake in front of them for a long time before inhaling it. If you move the grub through the fish's location too fast, they usually do not follow it and may even move away.

Spinnerbaits. Something about a spinnerbait is mesmerizing to bass. Even carp will sometimes follow spinnerbaits and catfish and the biggest kids of panfish take them more readily than they take a plain grub. You can make an attachable short-arm spinnerbait by clipping down a preformed .041 spinnerbait wire. Bend a loop into the wire to simply attach it to the one-eighth ounce tapered wedge type head, complete with the stiff, sparse fiberguard and the 4 inch swimming grub. A size 3 Colorado blade is just right for this in the spring and the fall. During the hot summer doldrums you may see bass holding listlessly in the surface layer of the water. These fish may sink or veer away from the Colorado blade but may be hard-coaxed into taking a size 3 Indiana blade. Use gold and copper blades, not just the silver ones.

Double Your Pleasure. If you can conveniently fish with two rods, then always use one rod with the plain grub and use another with the spinnerbait-rigged grub. You will catch more fish than if you just used one rod and kept alternately retying lures. Use a light spinning rod with a tip so sensitive you can feel the blade throb like a heartbeat. This light lure works well in water up to eight feet deep, slow-roll the spinnerbait along the bottom. You should barely turn the rod handle for best results. Up against the shoreline, pitch the spinnerbait up onto the bank or on top of rocks emerging from the water. Activate the spinnerbait before it even enters the water! Let it bang up a fuss and let the blade jangle all around like cowboy spurs on   Clint Eastwood's boots -- the noisier the better. Then hop it into the water and let it flutter down to the bottom. Fish will take it as it lies there. Shake and bake it before slow-rolling it away from the shore.

Topwater Spook-grubs. On a good fishing day you can easily go through several dollars worth of baits that are de-tailed by snags or by short-striking fish. No one seems to mind landing a nice bass and finding that it chewed the tail off. Yet who doesn't wince whenever a brand new grub sails through the air a little too close to some dry branches or raspy reeds that grab hold of and stretch the tail right off? And what about those small fries that are always nipping and tapping at the tail?

Before giving up the ghost, use the de-tailed grub bodies one last time to make two piece topwater spook-grubs. First, attach a Texas rigging hook to the line. Second, thread a de-tailed grub (either 4 or 5 inch size) up onto the line “bass-ackwards” so that it looks like a bullet weight for Texas-rigging. Third, Texas rig another grub onto the hook as you would normally (except, of course, that it doesn't have a tail). Gently slide the bullet head back down the line. Flush it up against the tail grub or leave a slight play of line between the two pieces. Mix and match contrasting colors such as a black grub head with a pearl/silver or smoke/silver grub tail. You now have a recycled spook-grub for topwater action in thick cover. Most round-bodied grubs will do. I am partial to the Yamamoto grubs for this because of their shape and also their density. They are made with a heavier plastic which allows for better casting control of the spook-grub.

The best locations for spook-grubbing are in dense chokes of canopy-like weed beds. Combine this with either tall tulles or reeds growing out from shore, and/or dead wood, preferably whole trees that have fallen in from shore so that the trunk is laying out through the tall canes with the limbs lying in four to six feet of grass-choked water. Look for ducks actively feeding on the vegetation mats. Ducks are not strict vegetarians. They often select feeding places where the aquatic plants are infested with insects or eggs. This “protein” will attract smaller fish, thereby attracting bass too. Look for various species of black birds perched in the reeds or on tree limbs inches above the water. They are looking to snatch small fish fry to snack on – bass should be there looking for the same. Learn to recognize dinnerplate-sized clearings in the grass beds -- either freshly made or weeded-over again. These are sure signs that big bass are feeding and probably living right there for the season. Also look for weed-free pools formed under shoreside shade trees and look for any open water lanes hidden up against the shady shore behind the tall cane beds. These are havens for big bass as are any trails and clearings made in the canes by nesting waterfowl.

Do not buzz or retrieve the spook-grub. It's okay to slightly overcast your target and then maneuver the spook-grub into key position. Just cast it to and keep it in one place as long as possible, preferably the thickest, sloppiest weed patches in the nastiest tangles of the tall grass and where the tree top meets the trunk. There is no such thing as leaving the spook-grub in the right location for too long. Just jiggle and twitch it for what seems like an eternity, sending out ever-widening rings of ripples to call in bass to come searching for the source of the commotion. It is even okay if the grub is stuck up against the far side of the weed edge or if it hangs in the reeds or weeping willows inches above the water. Just jiggle the grub to rustle the weeds or switch the canes or willow limbs. Bass will come to investigate and swirl their tails to part a clearing in the grass, or jump right onto the willow limbs or ram the canes in order to knock the grub into the water. Just slide the bait off gently so it falls into their waiting mouth.

Color Guide. The colors below showcase some of the best. The examples below are from Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits colors but most manufacturers make similar colors to these:

Black 051

yama051.jpg (1635 bytes)

Cream White 036

yama036.jpg (1938 bytes)

Smoke 163
 w/Black & Copper

yama163.jpg (1887 bytes)

Smoke Rootbeer 236
w/Green & Copper

yama236.jpg (1773 bytes)

Clear 200

yama200.jpg (1879 bytes)

Watermelon 208
w/Black & Red

yama208.jpg (1910 bytes)

Smoke 177
w/Black & Silver

yama177.jpg (1864 bytes)

Amber Honey 182

yama182.jpg (1948 bytes)

Blue Pearl 031

yama031.jpg (1938 bytes)

w/Black & Gold

yama216.jpg (1938 bytes)

Black is basic. You can just use black everywhere all of the time - especially with red accent markings on the jig head and in the fiberguard. If you must cast other colors, then throw two deadly copper flakes colors: smoke (163) and amber (182). And whenever you find bass are chasing silver-sided baitfish, you simply must try two silver flake colors, pearl (031) and smoke (177) . Other colors that excel are watermelon pepper with red flakes (208) in the springtime and pumpkin pepper with gold flakes (216) in the summer.

However, fact is that all the colors on this list will work year-round. This applies to any clarity and color of water ranging from crystal clear, tea or coffee brown, pea green, rain or shine, day or night. This is a powerful statement. To convince you (and me) of it, many times I have fished three in a boat with each person choosing to stick with black, white or smoke grubs for the entire outing. We did this in pristine waters, tannic-stained, pea soup, and downright dark and dirty waters. At certain times or spots, it seemed that one color was catching better. The other two individuals often wished to change colors - myself included! However, we stuck to it and as we moved around to different spots, another person's color would seem to score well for a while, then another. This kept up so that by the end of an outing, we all made good catches regardless of color. After repeating this experiment many times over many seasons, I felt that each of the three individuals was able to put together a winning presentation based on their own personal pattern for success each day. They could equally succeed with black, white or smoke grubs in any area and under any conditions. Therefore, persistence and presentation style are far more significant than color when it comes to grubs.

And that's the lowdown on the lowly grub!

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

Chapter 2
Grub Size Matters
How to Use Different Grub Sizes

Grubs are killerous things! In clear water, grubs provide the same wide range of visual color attraction as other soft plastic types. In addition, grubs have the magnetism of visible tail waggling that draws the eye of every wanton, hungry hunter. In cloudy, dark water (or in dense cover or at night) a grub's beating tail lights up on lurking lateral lines in the same way as a vibrating crankbait or spinnerbait blade, except that the grub is weedless and snagless. And always, grubs have the plump bodies, natural texture and saltiness that is held onto once taken.

Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits offers two styles (let's call them "standard" and "stretch") and six overall sizes of bass grubs. Most all soft plastic manufacturers offer their own brand of "standard" style grubs. If I am not mistaken, only Gary Yamamoto offers the "stretch" styles. This chapter tells you two best ways to use these two different grub styles, which are:

  1. using the short or "standard" grubs on jig heads

  2. using the longer or "stretch" grub styles on rigs (Texas, Carolina, Florida, Mojo, etc.)

Starting with the three Yamamoto series below, they all have short, plump bodies that cozy up nicely behind a jig head:

Top down: Series 19, 18 & 40

4" Series 40: The favorite size for catching more but smaller fish, light tackle (6-8 lb. line), and to downsize when finicky fish turn up their noses at larger grubs.

5" Series 18: You'll catch fewer but better sizes of bass than on the 40, and you can usually upgrade to medium tackle (8-12 lb. line).

6" Series 19: Best for flushing out a few of the finest trophies in your lake with 15-20 lb. tackle.

The above grubs are best used on jig heads, either open hook, wireguard or fiberguard jigs. However, if you want to rig rather than jig them, the Series 58 Owner Rig'N Hook is one good match for short-bodied grubs. It's a heavier wire hook that provides extra weight and a deep keel to help stabilize the wild gyrations of a rigged grub, and retrieve them ever-so-slowly to avoid spinning. A few good fits are a 2/0 in the 40's, 3/0 for 18's, and 5/0 in the 19 series.

Big Rigs for Big Bass! Series 100: 1/2 oz, 5/0; Series 10: 3/8 oz, 4/0; Series 2: 1/4 oz, 3/0

Next are the BIG Grubs. Think of these next three as "stretch limos". Gary designed them for Texas rigging, pitching and flipping rather than on jig heads. The extra added length is the key here. Length that allows you to use a screw-in or pegged weight and a powerful hook set with heavy tackle. Most members of the Yamamoto Pro Staff fish these on 16-20 lb. Sugoi fluorocarbon, preferring the low stretch power of fluoro to enhance the hook set. Gary himself prefers a straight shank wide gap hook (not an offset). For the heaviest tackle, try the thick wire Series 57 Owner hook in 5/0 for the series 100, 4/0 for the 10's, and 3/0 in the series 2. Straight shank series 56 (Owner) and 49 (Gamakatsu) are a bit thinner wire (but also a smaller gap). I like to rig the hook far back in the long body, so the hook can get a "running start" before it locks up against the bullet weight which can be clamped tightly in the mouth of a bass.

6" Series 2: A favorite for sparse cover, 14-16 lb. line, or to downsize when fish prefer something smaller than the 10 or 100 series due to mood swings or fishing pressure.

8" Series 10: The usual size for power fishing the kind of stuff we are talking about here!

10" Series 100: Good for the large Florida strain fish and the densest cover. A great night bait for swimming slowly across open bottom.

A few words on size: Three themes play into choosing the best size of a grub:

Match the Hatch: When there is an overabundance of a certain size and species of bait, bass can tune into that, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. This is instinctive, reflex feeding with blinders on. Your grub must trigger the same size (color, and evasive maneuvers) as the prey they've been capturing lately.

Match the Mood: I do believe I've observed bass showing as many moods as we do. Big grubs, bold colors, and brash actions evoke aggressiveness, defense of territory, a varmint inhabiting the nursery grounds, a pecking order response from a dominant fish, simple curiosity, excitability as in the "cat toy" effect, etc. On the other hand, lack of bait, too much bait, temporarily stressful changes in environment, fishing pressure or revealing conditions that make bass more aware of the angler or his decoys - all this can call for smaller grubs, subtle colors, and do-nothing presentations. Whatever the case, matching the size of your grub (it's action and color) to the "mood" can trigger bites. Keep it in mind.

Match the Quarry: Often times, there is no predominant prey, no predisposed moodiness. Fish will take whatever feeding opportunity wiggles by, provided the fish can subdue and swallow it. This means big fish like to tackle vulnerable-looking big baits, whereas small fish prefer to attack proportionally smaller baits. Not always, but good enough most times to simply match the size of your bait to the size of your quarry!

A few words on color. Look around you. Whatever colors you see on land, the color of the ground, the rocks, the vegetation, those are most likely themes that carry on down below the water. Match it with grubs in shades of green, brown, gray or whatever you see. Now look at the water. Match whatever color it appears (green, brown, blue, black, smoky, clear, etc.) which varies depending on the sky, light and sunshine (or moonshine). Regardless of all, keep in mind most prey fish have mirrored sides and creamy bellies wherever they are, whatever the water color...translucent smoke sparkle grubs and white grubs! Then there are black grubs (with blue or red tails or sparkles), and they are always good! Can't say I know why, but chartreuse truly drives smallies nuts, and modest doses (a chartreuse jig head or tail) can enhance success with largemouth.

A word on scent. In addition to all the salt, we mold secret sauce into the grubs designed for big bass (series 19, 10, and 100). Trophy bass do not like to let go.

Swimming. You've got to get the tails paddling strongly, which means to swim grubs. Whether using the shorties on jig heads or Texas rigging the stretch models, start by dropping them close to whatever cover is nearby. You WILL get hit on the fall - or shake it gently so the grub kicks its tail feebly as it lays on bottom. No takers? This is where grubs can out-produce other "drop baits" such as rubber jigs with pork or plastic chunks. The grub will swim away from cover with a strong tail beat that calls fish to come and get it. Key is to use enough weight (jig head or bullet sinker) to generate a strong vibration. Not enough weight will result in a weak vibration, and too much weight robs some of the "life" out of the presentation. Depending on depth, line used, current and wind, you get it just right, and a slowly swimming, strongly beating grub will pull fish out of cover for you like a magnet.

How to swim it? Simply raise the rod tip slowly and lower it slowly. The grub will paddle towards you coming off bottom as you raise the tip, and paddle back down to bottom as you follow it down with the rod tip. Pause for a pick-up and repeat. The same effect works to pull fish off open structure in deeper water, and by ticking the tops of submerged grass beds, taking care not to let the grub get buried in the weeds. If you think of places and ways that you'd slow roll a spinnerbait, you've got the right idea for swimming a grub.

Those are the two styles, six series, and two best ways I can tell you how to use them - shorties on jig heads, and Texas rigging the stretch models. Hope it helps you increase your knowledge, fun, and success fishing with the family of Gary Yamamoto grubs.

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

Chapter 3
A Search Bait for You
How to Use Grubs to Quickly Find Fish

So many fish, so little time. Follow these proven tips, and your search will soon be over!

When I am on a new body of water looking for bass in relatively shallow water (15 feet or less) what lure I use to try to initially locate fish is a single tail grub on a jig head. I distinguish between this faster-working "search" lure (my jig-and-grub) versus other slower but more thorough lures such as Senkos (weightless and weighted), hula jigs, craws, lizards, tube baits, etc.

Note I do not say a single tail jig-and-grub is better than these lures (although it often can be). I simply say a "swimming" grub searches faster for me.

I "search" with the grub by using a moderately heavier weight jig than normal, reeled semi-fast in a swimming motion. I throw to the bank, underwater ledge or other target. As soon as it hits bottom, I start reeling in to give it a fast action until it hits bottom again. If it's not hitting bottom, I slow down the reeling or let it sink until it hits something, but I never let it sit there. Remember, this is searching. So keep the bait swimming to cover bottom swiftly.

The moderately heavier than normal jig head does a number of things that make it effective for learning new bodies of water fast:

  1. casts farther than normal, thereby covering more water on a single cast

  2. sinks faster than normal, thereby saving descent time on the way down

  3. swims along bottom faster than normal (don't stop reeling it)

  4. triggers snap-reactions not only from aggressive but also inactive bass

  5. unveils to you what type of bottom structure and cover is underwater

If no fish are present or biting shallow (15 ft. or less), you can use this same search bait to work out deeper. Switch to a heavier jig head without changing the grub, but move into 12 to 20 feet of water with a heavier jig head for fish that may be staging at those depths. No fish there? Then search all the way down to 30 or 40 feet deep with the same grub and jigs up to one ounce. Just bounce bottom and reel quickly enough to keep from getting snagged while you steadily swim the grub without stopping. You'll cover lots of water, you'll uncover what habitat's down there for future reference, and you'll trigger snappy reaction bites in the process!

Colors to Search With

I especially like to search with bright white grubs. Black will almost always work as a search bait color. In clear or slightly stained water, smoke colors can work well. Sorry to sound so boring, but those are the only colors I would search with on an unknown body of water.

Other Grubby Search Baits to Try

A buzzbait is just a jig with a pinwheel over its head that chums the water with bubbles in an ever-widening wake behind it. In terms of being a search bait, it covers water faster and is more snagless than any other topwater lure. It comes through emergent wood, brush, reeds and weeds like few other lures because you can visually steer or "power-pull" it away from imminent danger of getting stuck, and you can "bulldoze" it fast to plow through thick weedbeds.

A spinnerbait is just a jig too. A punk rock version with it's nose pierced by a wire and flashy earrings dangling over its head. You can burn a heavy spinnerbait faster than any other lure - period. Burn it up high with the rod low and the spinnerbait just within your visibility at all times. It's a bird dog, and you'll flush out the locations of some fine fish that may have gone totally undetected using slower baits.

Do you want your searching to include catching? Then you must always have a follow-up rod ready. Take a tip from 2001 Bass Masters Classic angler, Jim Johnson of the Wisconsin BASS Federation. He had this to say about fishing the Classic in New Orleans this August:

"It was a very tough bite. Instead of finding an area as usual, you had to first find an area. Second, find small concentrations of fish within that area. It wouldn't be a whole area that held fish, just small pockets within the area, and you couldn't predict or pattern it. You just had to search out the entire area by casting until you found them. I used a swimming jig made locally in Wisconsin. I put 5" Yamamoto single tail grubs on it for more swimming action. When I uncovered short-striking fish on the jig, I backed it up with a weightless 9S Senko to try to work the fish more slowly once I knew it was there."

Last month, Jimmy won the Federation's Northern Divisional in order to go on the 2002 National Federation Championship where he'll compete for 1 of 5 berths to fish the 2002 Bass Masters Classic.

Jimmy's advice to keep a follow-up rod handy with a Senko is worth its weight in gold...err, bass in the livewell. Except for a few sharpies, most anglers don't follow-up with a separate rod on spinnerbait and buzzbait bites, which is unfortunate. Hardly anybody follows-up a jig bite like Jimmy suggests with a Senko. Be one of those rare ones who do, and "searching" will suddenly become synonymous with "catching" for you!

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

Chapter 4
Designer Grubs
Are Yamamoto Grubs the Best of the Breed?

Son, those Yamamoto grubs are a piece of work. Best designer grubs on the market today! Don't believe me? Can I try to prove it to you? Okay, why don't you go get a few different brands of grubs out of your bag and lay them side by side. Take your time, good buddy, I'll wait here. Just bring me a beer on your way back, will ya?

Ready? Let's look at the design features of the Yamamoto in comparison to your other grubs.

Grub body design. Notice that Yamamoto's got a consistently fat diameter that's perfectly cylindrical throughout the body's entire length. The cylindrical Yamamoto body DOES NOT TAPER near the head nor near the tail. I like that "consistent fatness" in the grub's body cylinder. It provides a lot of meat for seating the grub on a jig head collar without having the grub split wide open because the jig's lead collar is too wide for it. And for Texas rigging in heavy cover, the Yamamoto's head is designed wide in order to give anglers the correct amount of plastic to hold the offset portion of a rigging hook securely in place as it kicks and claws its way through nasty wood, brush, rocks, reeds, and weeds that try their darndest to rip the hook out of your grub's head area.

Grub tail design. Just as its body is consistently fat, the Yamamoto's tail is consistently thin - the exact same diameter - from its tip to the top of the tail. I like that "consistent thinness" in the tail, especially near the top where it joins the grub's body. Now look at some other brands. Most tails are thicker, and a few, like the Kalin's or the Lunker City are thinner. The diameter of Yamamoto's tail is somewhere in the middle of the market, leaning a bit towards the thin end. Not too thick but not too thin - like Goldilocks said about Baby Bear's porridge, "This one is just right" in my opinion!

Design of the Hookin' Spot. That's what I call that expertly-designed little stubby part connecting the grub body to the grub tail on a Yamamoto grub. Why do I call it that? Because it is the HOOKIN' SPOT where the point of an offset shank hook gets skin-hooked on the SIDE of the grub. That's right, the SIDE of the grub, the side of that fat little hookin' spot. What's so great about the hookin' spot on a Yamamoto? Well, it's so meaty, it can only be described as chunky and bulbous, which is just what you want there to cover the hook point. I skin hook the point on the side of the hookin' spot until it gets "hogged out", then I skin hook the point on the fresh, meaty OTHER side on the hookin' spot, which allows me to get a few more fish on the same grub. Can't switch sides like that with two many other brands of grubs. They're just not designed with that big, meaty Yamamoto hookin' spot.

Best of all, there are no tapers. I guess that summarizes what I like so much about the Yamamoto grubs. The body diameter is consistently fat and the tail diameter is consistently thin. PERIOD. That sweet little hookin' spot can only be described as a bulbous chunk of meat, which is just what you want there to hide your hook! There are no tapers, the head doesn't run into the tail, and the hookin' spot is clearly it's own little section of the Yamamoto bait. This sharply-defined hookin' spot really does not exist on many other grubs.

What's so bad about a taper? Okay, let's look at some of those other brands you use. Right off, I refer to those taper-headed ones as "pin heads." If a grub tapers too much near its head, then it will split wide open when you try to slip it over a jig collar. And if it does not split open, the lack of plastic in the head does not provide tension to keep the grub securley in place. It will slip down off your jig collar every time you cast or swing 'n miss on a hookset. Droopy drawer grubs are a real hassle for you, and a real turn-off for the fish in my opinion. Also, a fish will tear up the thin head section of a pin head grub in no time, and it's a poor choice for a Texas Rig in heavy cover. Heavy cover is nasty and grabby. Heavy cover will literally tear the hook out of a pin headed grub in no time. So I basically avoid pin head grubs for jigs and Texas rigs.

The thing I really don't like is when the the body of the grub just tapers right into the tail of the grub so that there is no clearly defined hookin' spot on some brands. There really is no clear place to hide the hook - there's just a body and a tail - and not much else in between. What this means is you put the hook into the body (too thick) or into the tail (too thin) rather than putting it into that nice little spot (just right) on the Yamamoto.

Sure I use other grubs, and I will tell you some names now. They're good, and they all catch fish. They are just not designed as expertly as the Yamamoto in my opinion. Kalin's are nice. They have the thinnest tails that I have ever seen, and they wriggle with less effort than any other. Lunker City's got a thin tail too, and it has ribs on top that "texpose" a hook well. There's a great elliptical-shaped grub body with a medium diameter tail made (or at least they used to be made) by Jerry Corlew's Angler's Pro Specialties. Bobby Garland has offered over the years several great grub models. One of the more recent ones, Bobby puts yellow/black eyes that bond right onto the plastic, and it has a great shape, size, action and medium diameter tail. Allen Lures has some really fat-bodied grubs. I have a pile from when they were formerly made by Ditto, and they have the gosh-darndest wriggling motion - what I call a "triple ripple" going on back there. Zoom of course. Those are my grubs, boys, and I'm sticking with them. They all have their time and place when they work for me.

Texas rigging tips. In order to get some additional info for this chapter, I spoke with the editor of Gary Yamamoto's Inside Line magazine, Jerry Puckett. First and foremost, Jerry agreed with me that there are there are a lot of good soft plastic products on the market today. However, none - not even Yamamoto baits - become great products in Jerry's opinion until they are in the hands of an angler that knows when and how to use them effectively. Here's a few things that Jerry keeps in mind whenever he has a grub in his hands:

1) Use offset shank hooks: Jerry prefers an offset kinked shank hook of the style of a Owner Rig'n, Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap (EWG), or Yamamoto Sugoi hook. He believes the pronounced offset kink in the shank of these rigging hooks "holds" the softest baits in place more securely than straight-shanked hooks.

2) Don't hog out the hole: Especially on the softer baits, Jerry considers it important to slowly and carefully hand-rotate the bait before sliding it over the offset on the hook. If you push the bait over the eye of the hook before rotating it 180 degrees, in preparation to bury the hook point, it will tend to "hog out" the channel in the bait making it more prone to "slip".

2) Peg it: Jerry always prefers a pegged weight for the softer grubs. He feels that the constant "pounding" of a unpegged weight against the soft head of a grub will tend to un-rig the head of a soft grub from the hook. Jerry mentioned that Garland's TR (Texas-Rigger) jig heads have some use here.

3) Small, soft grubs: He doesn't try to use Florida-style screw-lock weights in four or five inch grubs. He reasons that once you embed the offset shank hook in a grub that size, there's just not enough body length left to screw in a Florida weight.

4) Long, dense grubs: On longer, thicker, denser plastic grubs such as the six to ten inch long Yamamoto grubs, a secret that Jerry has learned from Gary Yamamoto himself is to use the 5/0 straight shank, wide gap Owner style hooks and rig with a screw-lock weight, making sure to allow ample space between the eye of the hook and the weight. Please read the next chapter for more information on how to rig a big grub in this manner.

Thank you, Jerry. I think I speak for all readers when I say we appreciate your giving us the straight scoop on how you rig grubs.

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

Chapter 5
Catch the Magic...
of Yamamoto's Big Two-Tone Grubs

Gary Yamamoto has a secret how to turn heads his way in tournaments. He's turning heads of big bass out of cover and into his livewell!

He's using the new Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits controlled two-color bleed, random-patterned grubs. That's a big mouthful to say, and it's a big mouthful of new two-tone grub too! Gary's used them to overtake the Bassmaster's field for a 2nd place win at Lake Eufala and a net $27,000; followed by another come-from behind 2nd place win at the Angler's Choice Pro-Am at Lake Texoma. Yamamoto used similar winning techniques in both events - jumbo-sized, curly-tailed 8" soft plastic grubs in brush. Most anglers rarely use such big grubs...but they should! Why? Because these are big fat baits for big fat bass!

Want to turn some heads? These are high end, premium baits. If you are a tournament angler, or if you fish competitively for fun, or if you just want a shot at the biggest bass in your lake, you may want to try these BIG grubs! And buy some stronger fishing'll need it!

Gary Yamamoto's Winning Tactics. Gary Yamamoto took second place in the Bassmaster Oklahoma Central Invitational. He fished in shallow, dense brush coming out into 3-5 feet of water. Gary rigged up as shown along the right. He used an 8" Yamamoto grub rigged weedless on a 3/8 oz bullet weight in the highly desirable color #520 (black body and royal blue curly tail). Gary pitched that grub into shallow, dense brush. Big bass would belt it as the grub was coming out of the brush and  slowly swimming into 3 to 5 feet of water, keeping it close to the bottom.

A Few More Words. Yamamoto started making his big fat 8" single twister tail grubs fairly recently. Initially designed for the giant bass in Lake Bacarrac, Mexico, these big grubs will pull up big bass everywhere. The shapes and sizes of these jumbo grubs are relatively unique. There aren't many other grubs on the market of comparable proportions. There aren't many people fishing them either, so these grubs are new to the fish! These grubs are longer, wider, stronger than the average grub, and the plastic formulation is dense. Yet despite their bigness, the curly tail is made thin enough to produce strong vibrations at slow retrieves.

Rigging Tips. When you rig the bait, leave some distance between the weight and the eye of the hook. It's important that the eye of the hook is not rigged too close to the weight. Why? Because when you begin to set the hook, the fish's mouth will instinctively depress against the bait, weight and all. But if the eye of the hook is rigged up close against the weight, and the weight is pressing up behind the fish's tightly-pursed lips, then you only move the entire bass/weight/hook forward without penetrating any mouth tissue on the hookset. Proper rigging (shown at right) leaves enough distance for the plastic bait to easily pull down and expose the barb, thereby enabling the hook point to start to grab hold in the fish's mouth. 

Where else to use 'em. Use them in thick, matted weed beds. Lob them out into the weed bed, and shake them all around until they break through the surface canopy. Expect hits as soon as it slips into the open layer of water just under the canopy. Let it free fall to bottom, tail fluttering all the way, and expect to get hit again just before the grub comes to rest on the bottom. No hits? Jiggle it a bit, then slowly swim it all the way back to the surface, attracting strikes as you go. Do not be surprised if a bass swirls in the grass and belts you just as you are about to lift the grub out to make another pitch! When this happens to you, do not set immediately, but bow the rod to the fish so it can swim off with your bait. Then sock 'em as the fish pulls the line tight! But if you didn't get a hit yet, just shake 'n break a different spot in the mat. Just keep prospecting, and use heavy line. You know why, don't you? Because you are going to catch big fish in the grass on these big grubs. And use them at night during the hot summer months. Start out swimming them slowly along shallow shoreline flats at night, and work your way out deeper on mid-water points, drops and other mid-lake structure. Keep it on bottom or close to it.

In Conclusion. Something BIG and grubby going on in the brush lately, eh? I'm going to head out there and give these giant TWO-TONE GRUBS a try. How about you?

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

Chapter 6
Spiders or Twisters?
When to Use One Tail or Two

Spiders or single tail twisters? Crayfish or baitfish? The thing I want to say is that although double twister tail spiders and plain single tail twisters are all merely "grubs", you should not make the mistake of lumping these two different styles of grubs together. Maybe other guys do this. But to me, the tactics and tackle I use with plain grubs (single curly tail, no hula top) are dramatically different from spider grubs (double curly tails with a hula mop top).

yama4grub.jpg (12172 bytes)Without running off into a lot of detail, I fish single tail grubs more horizontally as if I was swimming some kind of live baitfish out there on the end of my line. For colors, I use transparents, whites, smokes and sparkly stuff when bass are after pelagics (shad, shiners, glass minnows, etc.) which often stay up in the open water column or just above the thermocline. I use bottom-colored stuff (blacks, browns, greens) to imitate groundfish (sculpins, chubs, darters, baby cats, tadpoles, etc.), and I use stuff with a splash of orange/chartreuse and green/black/blue flecks when they're after young-of-year panfish fry (sunnies, perch or crappies, etc) or boldly-colored bottom minnows.

Mostly, I use the 4" size if there are a lot of 1-2 lb. bass. It will catch many more small bass, plus a few 2-5 lbers by the end of the day as well. To exclusively target 2-5 lbers, you will get a few more of them (and avoid many small bass) on the 5" size. However, early spring is one time of the year that I am convinced the 5" size catches more bass than the 4" size. Also, at night I prefer to use the 5" size.

The rod I personally prefer for swimming single tail grubs is the Lamiglas Certified Pro Graphite model #664 which comes in both spinning and baitcasting versions. I use 8 to 15 lb. test, but most often 12 lb. line. I go from 1/32 to 1/8 oz most often, all with sparse fiberguards. I cover a lot of water horizontally right under the surface, right over the bottom, and everywhere in between. You can fish suspended bass by shaking single tail twister grubs on light jigheads as they slowly descend through mid-levels - or close the bail and suspend 'em at levels where you mark pelagic bait. Although mid-water shaking sounds like it's a vertical application, you are really covering water horizontally with the wind or on a slow troll along a contour!

With the spider grubs, I use heavier pitching style rods and much heavier line in weed, rock, wood cover and for banging the bottom in deep water. I like to think a spider grub imitates a crayfish, and I expect to get hit as the lure drops to the bottom or as it is shaken/stirred in cover or on a lift/drop/bang in deeper water - always right on bottom. Maybe it's because I fish it that way, but the percentage of hits for me is very low when swimming a spider grub horizontally through the water. Also, my weights for spider grubs are 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 oz. Also 1/8 on 4" spiders in the super shallows! My point here is, spiders are a medium to heavy application for me, but single tail grubbin' is a light one!

Spiders or Twisters? Crawl or Swim? You decide. Just match the hatch.

Keys to Your Grub Fishing Success

Further Reading

Want Even More Grub Fishing Know-How?

This could easily turn into a diatribe if you try to digest it all in one mind-meal. So pace yourself. There's a lot of grey matter about grubs to absorb here. You may even spot some dichotomy betwixt authors and articles, but that's fishing for you! Make no mistake, grubs are universal fish-catching tools. If I had to pick only one lure to use the rest of my life? It would be a grub! - Russ Bassdozer

grubs.jpg (65289 bytes)
All grubs shown from Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits.

Big (really big) grub fishing :

Heavy (really heavy) grub fishing :

Topwater (really, no kidding) grub fishing :

Hula grub fishing :

Shop at Bassdozer's Store
Bassdozer Store
Men's Clothing at
Bass Pro Shops

May I ask you for a favor please? Please start here first whenever you shop online. Click on any store logo above or book below. Bassdozer gets a small sales commission if you begin shopping at these stores from here. You always get the same low price you would pay anyway. Thank you kindly for shopping at Bassdozer.

Kevin Vandam's Bass Strategies
Kevin Vandam

Secrets of a Champion
Kevin VanDam

Fishing on the Edge
Mike Iaconelli

Big Bass Zone
Bill Siemantel

Denny Brauer's Jig Fishing Secrets

Denny Brauer

Denny Brauer's Winning Tournament Tactics

Denny Bauer

Monte Burke

Thank you for visiting. Please enjoy!
Bass fishing lures, bass boats
Worldwide Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats