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Publication: Bass Matters
Plastic Grubs and Smallmouths

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><> ><>         BASS MATTERS - May 17, 2006          ><> ><> 

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Hello Anglers,

Some people insist on fishing deep water during the summer, 
but deep fishing is not always the key to catch monster 
summer bass. Shallow tributaries and bays can hold plenty 
of hot water bass action. Weeds provide cover and forage 
for bass including crayfish, minnows, and bluegill. Weeds 
also help filter the water and pump needed oxygen into 
the water. 

Remember you can comment on any story or read comments   
by visiting: Bass Matters Blog

Enjoy a week of fishing!
email Brock

Plastic Grubs & Smallmouths

Sometimes the smallest, cheapest weapon in your arsenal is 
also the deadliest. That's how it is with plastic grubs. 

Choosing the grub and leadhead is a balancing act many 
anglers simply can't figure out. Smallmouth anglers should 
focus on three grub sizes: 3, 4, and 5 inch. As a rule of 
thumb, the 4 inch grub is the standard, although at times 
you can catch as many or more smallies on smaller and 
larger grubs. 

Because 4 to 5 inch baits mimic a wide variety of forage, 
they'll trigger strikes from bass of all sizes under most 
conditions. Fish smaller grubs in cold water or when the 
bite is off; switch to larger sizes when water clarity is 
reduced, when the bass are really on a tear, or you're 
fishing areas where trophy bass are likely.

GRUB STYLES: There are numerous styles of grubs you can 
stick on a jig. Curly-tails: works in many situations and is 
by far the most popular. As its name implies, the bait has a 
curly, flexible tail that ripples through the water both on 
the retrieve and on the drop. Spear-tails: common among 
saltwater anglers, they have flat tails that produce less 
vibration, but their high speed fluttering action triggers 
active fish, particularly smallies schooling on baitfish. 

Shad-tails: the tail is flattened, so the grub body wriggles 
on the retrieve. Because they fall fast, shad tails are good 
choices in heavy current. Spider: combines a curly design 
with a collar comprised of soft plastic legs. A good choice 
when bass are spitting the jig, because the legs add a life-
like feel that often causes fish to hang on longer than 
other body styles.

LEADHEAD WEIGHTS: The weight of the leadhead is another key 
factor. These three basic head weights will cover most small-
mouth scenarios: 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 ounce. When targeting 
bass in six to 15 feet of water, which is probably 75% of 
the time, use a 1/4 oz. head. In this depth range, a 1/4 oz. 
head works best with 4 and 5 inch grubs. If your fishing a 
3 inch grub use an 1/8 oz. head. When smallies are close to 
the bottom in current, or on reservoir structure deeper 
than 20 feet, use a 3/8 oz. head. 

LEADHEAD SHAPES: Few anglers bother to consider the shape of 
the leadhead, yet it can be critical to success. The three 
major designs for smallmouth sized leadheads are ball, toe 
and dart. Round heads are the cheapest and the most popular. 
They're perfect for nearly any presentation that's not 
bottom or cover intensive, but round heads are prone to get-
ting stuck between rocks. Toe shaped heads are contoured, 
sort of like your big toe. It's considerably more snag 
resistant, making it preferable for fishing around chunk 
rock and stumps. The dart head's pointed nose and stream-
lined design allows it to fall faster, an advantage in deep 
water and current. 

WEEDGUARDS: Weedguards are another overlooked option. Some 
smallmouth anglers argue that they aren't necessary since 
smallies aren't nearly as cover oriented as largemouths. A 
weedguard may cost you a fish every now and then by inter-
fering with the hookset, or by alerting an especially wary 
fish that the grub it's just picked up isn't real, but its 
advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

COLOR SELECTION: What color should you use? Grubs, like most 
bass lures, are available in a zillion colors, but you only 
need a few to consistantly catch big smallmouths. Smoke-A 
highly realistic baitfish imitating color, best on sunny 
days in clear water. This is a good choice for late spring 
and fall. Chartreuse-Totally unrealistic, but extremely 
visible. Bass are highly attracted to this color. Fish it 
wherever visibility is limited, on cloudy or rainy days,
around deep structure and in stained water. 


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Pumpkin-This color mimics a crawfish and is ideal for cold, 
stained water. It works especially well in early spring. 
Mixing and matching any of the above colors can help you 
fine tune your presentation, as can the addition of reflect-
ive of colored flakes to the translucent base color. Flakes 
can either increase the visibility of your grubs or make 
them appear more realistic. On a sunny day, silver flake 
makes a smoke grub look like a flashing baitfish. When it's 
overcast, reflective colors lose their impact and you're 
better off with a flat colored flake like black or red.

GRUB TACKLE: The Rod-Most grub experts favor spinning tackle. 
The all around favorite is a 6' to 6'2" graphite rod with a 
medium to medium-heavy action. The biggest mistake most 
anglers make is fishing grubs on light or ultralight rods. 
A grub is a single hook lure, and it takes a powerful hook-
set to sink the barb into the tough jaws of a trophy smallie. 
It's better to fish grubs on a rod that's a little too stiff 
than one that's too whippy. The Line-Light line is a must 
for grubbin'. Most professional guides use 6 to 8 pound 
monofilament, and recommend premium, abrasion resistant line 
with a little stretch for shock absorption. Line that doesn't 
stretch can break during a big smallmouth's initial run.

GRUB RETRIEVES: There are four basic retrieves for fishing 
the grub. The Swim-A horizontal retrieve for smallies on 
spawning flats, long points, gravel bars and other structure 
that slowly tapers into deep water. This retrieve is ideal 
for the springtime. Start with the boat in about 8' of water. 
This may put you a long way from the bank, but smallies are 
seldom shallow. Make a long cast and let the grub sink to 
the bottom with the rodtip steady at 2 o'clock. When the jig 
lands, reel quickly to shoot the grub off the bottom, then 
slow down so the bait swims just off it all the way to the

If you feel the lure bottom out, speed up your retrieve. 
Don't pop the rodtip. Keep it at 2 o'clock; the twisting 
grub tail is the only action required. Most strikes occur 
as the grub swims past an isolated stump or rock. When you 
feel a hit, drop the rodtip to 3 o'clock and set the hook. 
The Dart-A fast moving retrieve, deadly when smallmouths 
are actively chasing baitfish on flats or points, or school-
ing in open water. Cast the grub beyond visible baitfish or 
breaking fish, let the lure sink a foot or two, then pop 
the rodtip sharply so the grub darts erratically. 

Let the lure drop a bit, then dart it again, varying the 
number and intensity of the rod pops. You can substitute a 
spear-tail grub for a curly-tail if you wish. This retrieve 
will take smallmouths as well as hybrids and stripers. The 
Drop-A fall and winter retrieve, ideal when smallies are on 
vertical or sloping structures such as submerged humps, 
steep points, chunk rock channel banks and bluffs. Position 
the boat so you're facing the structure, then cast to it. 

Engage the reel when the lure hits the water and, with the 
rod held between 1 and 2 o'clock, let the lure sink on a 
tight line, pendulum style. When it hits the first stage of 
the slope, pop the rodtip slightly so it hops over the edge,
then return it to 2 o'clock as the bait continues to fall. 
Repeat until the grub is under the boat. Watch the line; if 
it twitches, jumps or hops, set the hook (a bass has inhaled 
the grub). 

Ledge Crawl-A variation of The Drop, best used when bass are 
located along a channel dropoff or ledge in 12 to 30 feet of 
water. With the boat hovering above the deep side of the 
ledge, cast past it into shallow water and let the lure fall 
with your rodtip at 10 o'clock. When it touches bottom, lower 
the rodtip within two to three inches of the surface, slowly 
turn the reel handle a few rotations, then pause a few 
seconds. Continue the cadence until the jig drops off the 
ledge. Bass may hit during the crawl or on the drop.

Soft plastic grubs may not be the flashiest smallmouth baits 
around, but they are among the deadliest. Their applications 
are virtually limitless.

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        GopherCentral's Question of the Week

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Question of the Week

                  FISHING JOKES CORNER

A Sunday school teacher asked, "Johnny, do you think Noah 
did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark?"

"No," replied Johnny. "How could he, with just two worms?"

Questions? Comments? email: Email brock
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