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Say Aloha to the Hawaii Rig

By Russ Bassdozer

Who knows why several rigging methods are named after states? Texas, Carolina, Florida. It is a fine American bass fishing tradition. So I have christened this new one the Hawaii rig since its principal components are:

  1. a hula skirt grub and
  2. a pineapple sinker.

Do you like to fish a traditional hula grub or spider jig? Then read on. You'll love the innovative Hawaii rig.

The rod and line I favor for the Hawaii rig are stout. A heavy action stick such as Yamamoto's backboned Mod IV baitcaster and 16 lb gray Sugoi fluorocarbon line. Due to the strength of this specific set-up, whatever you hook with the Hawaii rig will almost certainly not be making an early escape. Especially in a tournament or just in a friendly Saturday afternoon brag-athon, you are likely to land any lunkers you lure on a sturdy Hawaii rig.

The hook must provide the penetrating power to match the rest of the gear. I favor sturdy offset shank round bend worm hooks by Daiichi or by Gamakatsu. A 3/0 conceals nicely in the wide leg juncture of a five-inch double tail Yamamoto Hula grub (97 series). A 4/0 arms and readies the six-inch double tail Yamamoto Hula grub (99 series).

The pineapple sinker is made by Mojo. It features the elongated cylindrical snagless sinker shape made famous by Mojo. It slips through snags that would eat most other sinker shapes or jigs. Just like stainless steel is not entirely stainless, the pineapple sinker is not entirely snag free - but I am not aware of anything more snagless or easy to use for the Hawaii rig. On its crown, the pineapple sinker sprouts a grooved swivel that clips on the line without a knot. Pineapple sinker sizes for the Hawaii rig are normally 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 oz.

Tie the hook on with a Palomar knot. Then run the tag end once more through the hook eye dropshot-style so the hook point stands straight up on the Hawaii rig.  Leave the tag end long to clip the pineapple sinker anywhere from a few to eighteen inches below the suspended hula grub. With the hook point buried in the leg juncture, the hula grub is snagless. The wide hula fronds ahead and wide leg juncture both serve as bumper points to deflect the free-floating hula grub away from snags before they happen.

Most other soft plastic bait shapes when used on a Hawaii rig will spin on the drop down to and retrieve up from the bottom, and twist the line into nasty knotted coils.  Except for the hula skirt grub, I am not aware of anything more twistless or more ideal to use on the Hawaii rig.

MegaStrike gel is a must for me. The whole Hawaii rig gets smeared with MegaStrike. This new fish attractant formula comes in a tube. I use the nozzle to apply MegaStrike to the hula skirt grub, the hook, the leader line and the pineapple sinker. The entire rig gets slimed in MegaStrike.

I suppose there is more I could tell you about the Hawaii rig, but I will leave the rest up to you. If you like fishing traditional hula or spider jigs, just get yourself out this weekend. Go fish the Hawaii rig the same way you would normally use any hula tactic, except for the stout gear and the following differences:

  1. Most other ways you use a hula, Texas, Carolina or on a jig, they all put the grub on the bottom in the snaggiest layer of debris, often concealed from view and in a difficult position for a bass to bite it. A Hawaii rig holds a hula above the debris, in more constant view and suspended in the easiest possible position for a bass to grab it effortlessly. The suspended bait above bottom makes it easier and it is often more likely for a bass to bite it.
  2. The Hawaii rig provides a clean, direct rod-to-hook connection. There's no heavy sinker ahead as with a Carolina rig. No jig head or sinker is there for the bass to clamp down on or pry the mouth open during the hookset. There is less head-shaking leverage to dislodge the hook on a jump - a chronic heartbreak when using hulas on jig heads.
  3. Since a Hawaii rig hula is free-floating and suspended, it tends to deflect off snags that would catch onto other hula grubs. The pineapple sinker more easily slips through snags that would engulf many other weights or jigs. I often hold the rod tip high (ten to eleven o'clock) but sighted straight down the line, like an up-pointed rifle. The high tip angle helps me hold the Hawaii rig up in better alignment for allure, hooksetting and slinking through snags. Upon bite detection, I reel down to nine, confirm the bite, then lay into the rod with a powerset. Holding the rod down or sideways puts the rig out of kilter and snags more with poorer hooksets.

With the innovative Hawaii rig, about the only way you will be disappointed is if you fail to try it.

Mahalo means thank you in Hawaiian for 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 :

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