Spider Grubs- A Hop, Skip, and a Thump

By Brian Athern - August 1, 2000
Fishin' Docks for Summer Bass

A dreary day was set forth and I was less than optimistic. I was elated to be sharing the boat with my new friend, actually old family friend, Frank Hyla, while he prefished for the Northland Bass Tournament on the Madison Chain last summer.

What I hadn't realized was all the little stuff a pro does to seek out, scrutinize, and then conceal that one spot that may produce some fish worth a paycheck. I had imagined how fun it would be since we talked at the Chicagoland Fishing, Hunting, Outdoor, and Travel Show about doing some fishing. The technique I was to be taught, skipping grubs, would not only prove to be deadly that day but forever.

Frank displayed a deadly technique with quiet showmanship. Besides allowing me to mooch a couple of his Yamamoto Hula Grubs and then implementing my own concoction of half tube-whole Power grub, he taught me some water and how to pattern the bass. No they wouldn't chase our crankbaits, buzzbaits, and spinners, but yes they were there. It just took some good old fashion persuasion to open their mouths.

This deadly technique takes a few things to make it all click. This package can be duplicated otherwise, but precision and consistency will pay huge dividends. That is unless you turn your nose up at catching bass 3 1/ 2, 2 1/ 2, 1 3/ 4, and 1 1/ 2 pounds respectively. I knew that would get your attention. Here's how this little beauty works.

The technique I was to be taught, skipping grubs, would not only prove to be deadly that day but forever.
First, start with medium action spinning gear with a 6-6 ½ foot rod preferable. Keep in mind leverage for the hook set. Next, a spinning reel matched to the rod with a minimum 2-3 BB build spooled with 8-10# monofilament. Hyla prefers 10# mono in the tourneys and recommends a minimum of 8# for recreational fishing. I don't like the superlines for this situation because we're fishing exposed hooks in a snag filled setting. Frank's combos included a 6 ½ foot Shimano Scabard/Stradic in medium action. I opted for a 6 foot Shimano Stimula/Ryobi spooled w/ 8# XT in medium action.

Lastly, that little gadget called the Yamamoto Hula Grub in a 4 inch version. Fish this crawfish imitator on its specialty hook, a stand-up style or football jighead. The attraction is the mesmerizing pulse of the jig's tentacles (skirt) on top with the throbbing of its life-like claws. Other worthy substitutes include the Berkley Spider Grub, Arkie's Salty Crawlin' Grubs, or Chompers' Garlic & Salt flavored Skirted Grub. The flavor adds to the realistic, food appearance of the baits.

The technique for delivering the bait under docks, over hanging trees, and in close quarters admittedly takes practice. I felt like a handicap to my friend for the first portion of our trip, but by day's end had an accomplished feeling. The technique of "skipping" is what helped Dion Hibdon win the 1997 BASSMASTER'S CLASSIC by delivering a skirted offering underneath docks to the bass lurking within.

The idea is simple when we think in terms of skipping a rock across the water. To achieve the same result, we must get the bait as close to the water as possible and deliver it with a combination underhand-side arm cast. Just as with the rock, the flatter the bait hits the water, the further it will skip. And thumping that bait off of docks, posts, rip rap, and the bank isn't necessarily a bad thing, either.

When attempting this technique, don't think in terms of productivity and hitting the more "high percentage" docks. Work on mastering the technique with just a few docks and get it down to an automatic. Of course you'll snag, or flop the bait over boards or pilings, that's to be expected.. Move on to docks you're more convinced hold fish when you can deliver the presentation accurately.

The idea is simple when we think in terms of skipping a rock across the water.
Your potential strike zone may be a foot or two at best underneath the dock's relative shade.

On shoreline cover, work more of an area beneath the overhang and hop the jig down the drop offs. An effective method Frank and I discovered was allowing some current areas to "tumble" the bait into the fish's strike zone. A thump followed by either weight or weightlessness as I encountered indicates you've been hit. Under the docks, a solid thump was more detectable as fish seemed less timid in attacking their "food". In either case, set the hook hard and hold on!

Next time you're out bass fishing in the summer's heat, give the fish a taste of grub skipping. This technique may be your new secret weapon for taking bass from underneath docks.

Good Fishing!

Author Brian Athern
Brian Athern
Brian J. Athern is a Field Editor with MidWest Outdoors Magazine, Fishing Facts Magazine and has also worked with the former www.thesuburbanangler.com. If you have any questions or comments regarding this article you can email Brian at bumnbri@aol.com