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The Forgotten Idiot By Nathan Parker

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The Forgotten Idiot

By: Nathan Parker

If the owner of this website weren’t a good guy, I’d be hoping you weren’t reading this article. In fact, since you’ve clicked on the link now and it’s gone on his hit counter, why don’t you just go ahead and navigate somewhere else. It’ll be a boring read anyway. Seriously. No? Piqued your interest now, huh. Here goes then. I have a confession to make. More than ½ of the keeper size fish I’ve caught in the past 3 years were caught on a bait that costs about 25 cents, and is so easy to fish my less-experienced fishing partners have often taken to calling it “the idiot bait.”

It’s the old faithful, simple, misunderstood and under-appreciated single tail grub on a plain lead jighead. Though it’s small in size, I’ve found it catches bigger fish on average than other finesse presentations, and I tend to use it more in tournaments than other finesse presentations for that reason. Most people credit Mr. Twister with creating the little contraption, and while some companies like Galida’s Grubz of Erie, Pennsylvania might dispute that, we’ll leave it to the historians.

Grub Photo copy1I like smoke purple, watermelon red, green pumpkin, and pearl blue for colors, but I don’t think there’s a bad color made. I’m not going to make this about brand except to say that quite a few companies make a nice single tail grub, including the above mentioned which are both still in business. The one I’ve mostly settled on is made by Big Bite and called the finesse grub, made in 4″ and 5″ sizes, but before that I used YUM, Kalins, and BPS house brand grubs with pretty similar positive results.  Lots of companies make good ones, and they all catch fish year round. In fact, I’d go so far as to put the single tail grub right up there with the finesse jig and the drop shot worm on my short list of baits that produce equally well in every calendar period. I fish them 3 ways, and I think most fishermen would catch more keepers if they always had one tied on.

  1. The lift and drop: I use this retrieve on very steep sloping rock banks, and by very steep I mean more than a 45 degree angle but not quite a bluff. This retrieve is executed with a jighead weighing between 1/8 and ¼ oz depending on wind and depth. I make my own jigheads, but I also like Gopher Tackle’s Gamakatsu mushroom head for all these techniques. I use a 7′ M action spinning rod with 10lb. braid and a 8-10lb. fluoro leader for all my grub fishing. Just cast to the bank, let the bait hit bottom, and wait. Then lift and follow the bait back down on a semi-slack link. It will flutter along, swimming slowly down the incline, occasionally ticking rocks until it settles, and generally it will look like an easy meal. Once it hits again, sometimes 5-10 feet further down the bank depending on the incline, let it sit. Experiment with the amount of time to let the bait sit. Unlike traditional grub fishing, this isn’t a deal where you’ll feel the fish engulf the bait and your rod will load up. This will feel like a jig or tube bite– nothing more than a little tick. Then, you load him up. This is my favorite grub technique in late winter and high summer.
  2. The slow roll: This is pretty much what it sounds like. Pick a jighead that’s just heavy enough to keep the bait near the bottom with a very slow, steady retrieve. Usually 3/16 to 3/8 oz. Crank it as slow as you can while keeping it moving and slightly off the bottom. The bait will bang into boulders, brushpiles, stumps, whatever’s down there. I like to do this with a jighead with a single wire brush-guard, and when I feel the rod load up on a snag, I don’t yank, just keep reeling slowly and eventually the rod will load up and pop that bait free. If you jerk, you’ll set the hook right into whatever the little guy is trying to crawl over.  The bite will often come when you’re coming over a snag. Then, it will feel one of two ways– either the fish will pick the bait up and swim right at you, toward deeper water, and you’ll totally lose feeling with the grub, or else your rod will just slowly load up and feel funky, like it’s in coontail but more alive. I like this retrieve with a smoke colored grub in early spring and anytime in fall when fish are staging on flats. The big spotted bass being held by one of my fishing buddies in the photo was caught on a feeding flat using this technique in the late spring.
  3. The weightless drift: This is mis-named, but it’s close to weightless. In the winter, take a VERY light jighead, like 1/16 oz, and put it in a big grub, like a 5″ Kalins or something similar. Then look for banks that are ALMOST vertical but not quite. Keep the boat close to but not quite paralleling the bank, and make long angled casts into the shore. Then do nothing but take up slack as the bait drifts and your boat gets closer to it. It will just drift around in the wind or current or ever so slowly settle downward, that curly tail just barely kicking. If it hits the bottom before you catch up with it in the boat, lift it a good 5-6 feet, and repeat the do-nothing procedure. This tactic won’t cover much water, so you have to have a pretty good idea there’s some fish around, but it will catch cold weather fish that won’t eat a jig or a jerkbait.

Of course, there’s a ton of other things you can do with a single tail grub. You can use it as a swim-jig trailer, or throw the same rig I suggest for slow rolling at schoolies (the smallmouth in the photo was caught doing exactly that). It mimics a fleeing baitfish really well on an umbrella rig, too. It’s just that the lift and drop, slow roll, and drift are my favorite ways to use it. Still, there’s no wrong way to fish this little hunk of dynamite, and that’s why we call it “the idiot bait.”

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Tackle Warehouse has a large selection on grubs: https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/?from=felix