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The Horror of Fishing Spider Grubs

By Russ Bassdozer

What are they? Ask some non-fishing friends for a definition of "spider grub". They'll probably say it's something spiders like to chow down on. Like that white-headed guy stuck in the web screaming "Help me!" in the closing scene of the classic horror movie, "The Fly". He was spider grub! But ask a bass angler who uses them and you'll hear that a spider grub is something that bass like to chow down on. It's a soft plastic lure with thin, twin twister tails, a cylindrical midsection, and a soft plastic skirt. The skirt is usually molded separately and bonded to the top of the grub body during a later step in the manufacturing process. The two most common sizes are 4" and 5" spider grubs. Sometimes I dangle one in front of my non-fishing friends and ask, "Quick! What does this look like to you?" A few have said it looks like a frog to them. One said it's a darning needle (dragonfly). A few teenage girls came to a group decision that it was a mosquito! Guess the hook looked like a big stinger. But ask a bass angler who uses them, and you'll hear that it looks like a crayfish. Therefore, most manufacturers produce crayfish-imitating color patterns - many variations of black, brown, smoke, or green bodies, mixed with just the right amount of black pepper, blue, red, green, orange, and/or copper flakes.

How do you rig them? The spider grub is most effectively fished as a dropbait rigged on a fiberguard jighead. Just use any shape and size of jighead you would usually use for rubber-skirted bass jigs. Slip off the rubber skirt and lace on the spider grub. Sometimes the skirt collar is too wide and you must clip it off with side-cutting pliers. Just use a little shot of super glue to secure the spider grub on the jig. Just throw it anywhere you would usually throw a jig n' pig. Bass usually take it when it initially falls through or next to cover or when it initially hits the bottom. This usually happens quickly and is referred to as getting a reflex or reaction bite. The bass may not be any more sure than some of my non-fishing friends as to exactly what is being dangled in front of them. It may look like something the bass would like to chow down on, or it may look like something threatening or intruding into the fish's space. Heck, what would you do if a 4 or 5 inch mosquito was buzzing around in your living room? You would probably jump up and belt it with no hesitation, right? So would a big bass. They are one of the top aggressors in their watery worlds.

Who makes them? Gary Yamamoto introduced availability of spider grubs during the mid-80s. They first caught on out West, then caught hold down South, and really only began catching on in the North and East during the mid-90s. As the spider grubs crawled across the country, other manufacturers popularized their own versions. To name a few others I like are Bobby Garland's Hyper Hula (501 481-5363), Haddock's Kreepy Krawl'r (800 825-8795), and Table Rock's Chomper (800 Bass-Pro). Fishing Masters Brand's Kamakazi is another one that I have started hearing about but haven't used yet.

Color Guide. The colors below showcase some of the best. I use the Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits colors because you can click on the small images to see a bigger image of exactly how these colors look and  you can even order them online if you so desire:

Black 051
yama051.jpg (1635 bytes) Smoke Rootbeer 236
w/Green & Copper
yama236.jpg (1773 bytes)
Smoke 163
w/Black & Copper
yama163.jpg (1887 bytes) Watermelon 208
w/Black & Red
yama208.jpg (1910 bytes)
Clear 200
yama200.jpg (1879 bytes) Pumpkin 216
w/Black & Gold
yama216.jpg (1938 bytes)
Amber Honey w/Copper 182
yama182.jpg (1948 bytes)

Like they say in the fashion world, "Black is always in this year", especially with red accent markings on the jig head and in the fiberguard. And here are a few deadly copper flakes colors to throw: smoke (163 & 200), amber (182), and smoke rootbeer (236). Other colors that excel are watermelon pepper with red flakes (208) in the springtime and pumpkin pepper with gold flakes (216) in the summer. And whenever you find bass are chasing silver-sided baitfish, toss them a club sandwich of two silver flake colors, pearl (031) and smoke pepper (177). Cut two grubs, a pearl/silver and a smoke/silver, in half with your thumbnail. Thread one skirt half on the jig head, followed by the other tail half, and join them with a little shot of super glue. Try it, your bass will like munching on it.

I mold my own jigheads. I skip the labor-intensive painting process, but I do epoxy in color-coordinated fiberguards to match the grub body colors. For instance, I make two-tone black/red fiberguards to match 051 and 208 bodies; brown/orange for 236; and clear/blue/orange fiberguards for 163 & 200. The style of jighead I make for weed and wood cover is known as a "stand-up" jighead. Now note that there are many styles of jigheads that stand up on the bottom, but these are not the "stand-up" style of jighead. Rather, I am talking about a specific triangular-shaped design with one of the flat sides on the jigs bottom. Very important is that the nose of the jig comes to a point, which is the best shape to minimize the moss and weeds from glopping up the jighead. I use 1/8, , and 3/8 ounce sizes in shallow weeds and wood less than 10 feet deep. All have long-shanked, forged hooks, with 3/0 in the 1/8 (used mostly with the 4" spider) and 4/0 in the others. The weight you select should be based upon the fall rate the bass prefer on any given day. Contrary to popular opinion, they don't always prefer the slowest fall possible.

What about them thar football rocker jigs? Over the last several seasons, football heads have become popular for deep water fishing in rocky lakes, particularly Western lakes with sheer, shady rock walls and bottoms, like in dammed canyons for instance. I don't fish dammed canyons. Nevertheless, the basic jig-making theory is that wide-faced, hammer-headed shapes are too bulbous and will rock, roll and bounce over small snags and crevices in the rocks, rather than get lodged into them like more streamlined jig heads. Even if  a football head does get snagged, the wide sides may prevent it from getting lodged too deeply, thereby giving you a better chance to gently back it out. The theory continues that the bigger and wider the head the more snags it will ride over. Years ago, there was a similar theory and wide, somewhat flat and bulbous shape known as the "arkie" head for fishing heavy wood cover. Basic theory was it was too wide to jam, so it would bounce over branches and little notches in the wood. Well, you don't see too many of the original arkie shape heads around anymore. What you do see are lots of modified versions of the original arkie to make them more streamlined up front, while still preserving a wide center of balance amidships to keep the lure positioned upright.  Well, anyway, pardon my digression. Back to the football heads on the market. They do look well-designed and are very rounded. The roundness allows them to roll head-first instead of on their sides as they contact rocks or as they rumble across gravel and sand beds. This is intended to flip the tail of your lure up off the bottom every time the jig head makes contact. Some say this resembles a crayfish throwing up its claws to take a defensive stance against any hungry bass. An experienced angler is able to hold them against the side of a rock or gravel ridge, and use rod tip motion to rock the head in place without moving it forward so that the spider tails flap up and down and drive bass wild. Try them and let me know what you think. When I fish rocks however, I like to use a lift and drop technique with a fiberguard head style known as an "Erie" jig. I like 1/2 and 3/4 ounce jigs that fall quickly. Let the jig drop on the initial cast, and expect to get bit as it gets near or hits the bottom. Take a small pause, then slowly and tentatively start to lift it straight up. If you jammed when the lure dropped, you will feel pressure - could be a bass too - so just stop lifting and wait for the bass to make the next move, no need to set quickly. Just wiggle it without moving it forward - if it pulls back or feels alive, set the hook when you get a feeling of solid weight or sideways movement on the line. If it doesn't feel alive, you are stuck and you should not set the hook. Just try to shake it gently to dislodge it without wedging it any deeper. When you get free, lift the rod tip a few feet, pick the jig up high, then lower the tip and let the jig BANG the bottom. Look to get a reaction bite as it falls, makes contact and pauses. Feel for a fish or snag, softly shake it loose, lift it high, bang back down, pause and test the line for fish or snags. That's the routine.

Spinnerbaits & Buzzbaits. Spinnerbaits and buzzbaits are specialized midwater and topwater forms of bass jigs, respectively. Just like we can remove the skirts from bass jigs and replace them with spider grubs, we can do the same with spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. Try the Kreepy Krawl'r spider grubs from Haddock's. The twin tails on this lure have great action at the faster retrieve speeds used for spinnerbaits and buzzbaits and the legs do not tear off as easily as other brands. The medium Kreepy Krawl'r is just shy of 4" and the large is a 5" model. For spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, try white (#K13), black/red flake (#K22), and cinnamon/black & red flake (#K29).  There's a common perception in bass fishing that bass in heavily fished waters need to be given something they haven't seen before. I doubt they've seen this combo.

Spider n' Eel. Here's another combo I doubt they've ever seen either. Grab a Yamamoto 4" twin tail spider grub in black with red flakes. Rig it on an offset shank bullet jig head designed just for Texas rigging, such as Bobby Garland's TR Leadhead in 1/8, 1/4 or 3/8 ounce sizes. Glue it to the jighead, but before you Texas rig the point of the hook into the tail, listen to what you do. Call 1-800-BASS-PRO and order a bottle of Uncle Josh Split Tail Eels model 260, or better yet, model 260G, which is a thin, buoyant black split tail pork with red glitter. Lace the pork eel onto the hook shank before you embed the hook point in the spider grub tail. The twin tails of the grub twist around like waving claws and the twin tails of the pork eel flutter like thin antennae. Man, oh man alive, does this ever look like a crayfish! It's a real classy combo. You're just gonna love to watch it wiggle.

Say, did you ever see the horror flick where this mad scientist guy cuts a small hole in the ceiling and drips all this green stuff down onto a sleeping guy, and the green stuff hardens into a thin thread from the ceiling onto his bed and it hardens all over the guy so he can't escape. Then the mad scientist unleashes all these spiders that climb down the green thread, and the guy can't escape because of the green stuff, and they eat the guy! HE WAS SPIDER GRUB!

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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