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Hula Hula Hallelujah

By Russ Bassdozer

Rejoicing time is here! It's time to shout about the glory of Hula grubs! Let's sing about one style - skirted double-tails! Let's praise just one way to use them - fiberguard jig heads. Indeed there are other ways to rig them, and other Hula styles (skirted single-tails or mix 'n match separate skirts and tails) but double tails on fiberguards are how I've Hula'd best for twenty years now. That's the fishin' gospel I'd like to evangelize to you today! Let's leave other ways and styles for the non-repentant sinners! So, park your transgressions at the door. Come on in, friends, and listen up because rejoicing time is here! Hula hallelujah!

I prefer double tail vs. single tail Hulas. Why? Because if a bass tears one leg off, you've still got a spare leg to stand on. The one remaining leg is more than enough enticement for a bass to continue to belt a one-legged Hula dancing right in front of him...or you can immediately fire a second cast back at the willing taker without delay.

Can't do that with single tail Hulas. With only one leg for starters, you're dead meat when a fish tears your only leg off. Bass often don't get highly enthused about biting a legless Hula a second time (at least not mine). Plus you'll lose your boat position and waste precious moments replacing a legless bait with a fresh one before you can cast back at that active bass. Therefore, with double tails, you get two chances to entice an active bass that tears one leg off. You will spend more time fishing active biters when it matters most. You'll spend less "down time" replacing double tail Hulas. So that's why I like doubles better than single tail Hulas.

The bulky series 99 double tail Hula is my "go to" bait simply because bass cannot tear the legs off the 6" inch series 99 so easily. If fish will bite on the larger series 99, you should surely use it whenever and wherever possible. You will simply spend more quality time fishing the 99, less time replacing torn bait, and you'll catch a larger grade of fish than on the 5" inch series 97 or the 4" inch series 93 double tail Hula. With that being said, there are whole bodies of water, seasons, and days when any one of the three sizes seems to out-catch the others.

The skirts welded on at the factory are preferable to separate skirts and separate double tails. With the factory-welded models, the bait simply stays up on the jig hook better in between bites. Once a bass yanks the Hula out of place down onto the bend of the hook, the bait tends to repeatedly slip out of place on following casts or bites. So I back the Hula off the hook gently so not to enlarge the hook hole, rotate it 180 degrees, and bring the barb out of fresh "new" plastic on the opposite side of the bait. That usually buys me a few more bites before the bait gets totally hen-pecked and won't stay up on the hook for beans. Then it's time to rig a fresh two-legged Hula. Save the torn-up Hulas for potential converts into born-again Ikas!

The custom-made fiberguard jig heads exclusively designed by Gary Yamamoto will hold his Hulas up on the jig collar without slipping off as easily as most other manufacturer's jigs. The barb, bayonet, collar or whatever you want to call it on a Yamamoto jig is custom-designed to hold Hulas on the hook better. In fact, with most other manufacturer's jig heads, I've usually got to glue them to keep Hulas in position on the jig. That's a hassle, especially out on the water. So I use Gary's jig heads whenever I can because they hold Hulas better without using glue.

Now all this talk of bass tearing Hulas into tiny pieces and yanking them off the hook, it's probably not the poor Hula's fault. Think about it. Most critters a bass chows down on will probably kill it if the bass doesn't kill them before ingestion. I don't think there's much margin for error if a bass doesn't disarm and tranquilize its dinner before going down the gullet. One things for sure, ever clean a bass for the table, and most craws you'll find inside have gotten their doors torn off. So, tearing the legs off a Hula is probably a good way to start dismantling it. I had one over the weekend that tore the skirt off the neck, but left the grub body and legs intact. I'd like to know how he did that?

How the Hula dance is done. I dance both Hula grubs and jig 'n pigs the same way in the same spots. They are just two forms of the same basic lure. Both feature a single upright hook, a fiberguard to make it weedless and snagless, a hard metal head that imparts the action, and a soft skirt and tail that receives the action. The major difference is that the Hula jig makes a smaller silhouette than the jig 'n pig. Also being soft plastic, Hulas come in many more translucent and sparkling glitter colors. Other than that, I use jig 'n pigs and Hula jigs identically - as vertical "dropbaits." I plop one in, drop it down, let it sit right on bottom and do nothing except shake or stir them occasionally without moving them forward, always waiting for the bite that comes on the initial drop or the lingering pause...and then I rewind my string as fast as possible to plop it into the next spot.

Jig 'n Pig: Hula Grub:
A fiber bristle weedguard jig head with a rubber or silicone skirt with pork (or plastic chunk, twin tail grub or crawfish). A fiber bristle weedguard jig head with a soft plastic skirt and twin tail grub.

Many beginners cannot find the knack of using hulas or jig 'n pigs at first. All I can say is do NOT retrieve them. When you think of spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, crankbaits, cast way out there and retrieve them all the way back to you. That's not so with Hula grubs or jig n' pigs. Just pitch, flip or toss them in and let them drop down. In shallow shoreline cover, all nearby bass will detect your lure splashing into their domain. They will detect it on their lateral lines, in their ears, and if unobstructed by dense cover, with their eyes. Eyes, ears, and lateral lines. It's what bass do. Sight, sound, vibration. It's all equally good sensations to them. As soon as your Hula drops into their domain, a bass instinctively hones in on whether your falling jig meets the sensory profile of something alive or not alive. Not too sure they even know they've got eyes, ears or lateral lines, and all the sensory feedback probably registers the same way in their little pea brains. It all starts with a natural-sounding entry into the water and a whole lot of feedback's detected by the fish as your jig falls - the fall rate, any shimmy, waver or spiraling motion on the drop, the double tails waggling, the skirt flaring all send out visual, audible, vibration, size, shape, action and motion detection that imitates life. Bass simply hit them on the drop or as they lay on the bottom. Do not overwork them. Leave them laying there longer than you think in between jiggles, then pull them out.

In my experience, I have never gotten too many hits trying to retrieve Hula grubs or jig 'n pigs horizontally. After many years, I confidently play the high percentages by NOT even attempting to fish Hulas horizontally at all in shallow shoreline cover. Sure, I may miss a few "horizontal" bites on the retrieve like this, but my trade-off is I get many more bites by making many more vertical drops if I do NOT waste time on a horizontal retrieve with a jig 'n pig or a Hula jig. So, I suggest you think more about vertical dropping these baits in shallow shoreline cover rather than horizontally retrieving them. That's the biggest tip I can give you about Hula grubs and jig 'n pigs! It's a particularly good tip for the beginning tournament angler who wants to increase the time his Hula or jig 'n pig is truly working for him on the initial drop or pause thereafter - do NOT spend any time on the retrieve. The odds have been stacked against it, at least in my Hula grub experience over the last 20 years. There are certainly other jig styles (tubes, unskirted single tail grubs or swimbaits) that have excelled for me on horizontal retrieves - but not Hula jigs!

Mostly, learn the places where the fish live along the shoreline. They often entrench themselves deeply in wood, brush, rock, reed or weed cover. In these places, learn how to cast into the small open spots where your hula can drop down into the cover (the easy part) and learn how to get your bait back out without snagging (the hard part). Probe the thickest, deepest, darkest part of the cover and the bottom below it. Thank God for fiberguards!

In deeper water out away from the shoreline, the Hula jig is used far more often than a jig 'n pig, but the way to use it is still consistent with the previously-described method. I use a straight, do-nothing glide, drag or crawl over bottom to traverse the flat open stretches where I'll rarely get hit. I choose the lightest jig weight (based on water depth, wind, and current, if any) that gives me a neutrally buoyant feel for the bottom without excessive "float". I move the Hula jig forward along the bottom, waiting to detect it drop off the edge of a rock or ledge. I expect to get bit as it falls off and sinks to the next lower level. Then I jiggle it a bit without moving it forward, and let it sit there until a bass decides to come over and bite it. Just like in shallow cover, any nearby bass can detect your Hula jig as soon as it drops down over an underwater edge and falls into their watery domain down below. Just like in shallow cover, the bass entrench themselves in and around the bottom obstructions, the nooks, crannies and darker shadows of the underwater drop-offs, cuts under boulders, crack lines in the bottom or anything else that can conceal them. That's prime Hula territory regardless of whether it is 5, 15 or 25 feet deep.

The pointy-nosed Yamamoto Flippin' Head (series 67) sports a custom-made Gamakatsu hook designed by Gary. It's great for big fish, heavy gear, and getting in and out of weed beds, reed berms, pad mats, overhanging bushes, brush, weeping willows, springy green limbs of half-submerged trees, etc. It's the style of head to use for flipping and pitching Hula grubs to big bass in weeds and finely-detailed shallow shoreline cover.

The blunt-faced Yamamoto Weedless jig head (series 66) has a high quality, medium wire Owner hook for average-sized fish. It has a blunted face to help it bounce over small snags and crevices in the rocks, rather than get lodged into snags like more streamlined jig heads. The series 66 works well in weed-free areas around rocks, posts, docks, logs, laydowns, thick tree limbs, trunks, stumps, cypress knees, etc. It's the kind of head to use with Hula grubs on weed-free structure deeper out from the shoreline.

Top ten color of Hulas. Okay, this is nobody's list but my own. These are my confidence colors I've used many years, and I would not hesitate to Hula jig with these colors anywhere, anytime. In addition, I'd arm myself with whatever soft plastic or jig 'n pig colors that the local sharpies prefer on any particular body of water. Oh yeah, I'd also happen to get my hands on whatever other colors you might be using to put more fish in the boat than me!

Code: Decode:
051 Black w/Red
163 Smoke w/Black & Copper (like 200 but smokier)
200 Clear w/Bronze (like 163 but clearer)
208 Watermelon w/Black & Red (turns brown)
214 Smoke w/Black, Blue & Gold
236 Root Beer w/Green & Copper
176, 194J, 286, 297 Cinnamon, Watermelon, Dark Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin (all w/Black)

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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