The humble grub is one of the simplest fishing baits ever invented. But it’s also one of the most versatile lures you can tie on your line. It will catch bass and a variety of other gamefish in almost any fishing situation. No wonder some anglers call it the “day saver.”
Many lures are niche offerings that perform best in a specific, narrow situation. But if you want a fishing lure that will almost always catch bass and other gamefish consistently, tie on a plain old grub bait.
Super clear water? Attach a grub. Cold front just passed through? Pull out a grub. Suspended fish? Try swimming a grub through them. Hard pressured fish? Well…you know the answer!
What Exactly is a Grub Fishing Lure?
A grub is simply a tapered, cylindrical soft plastic lure, typically with a paddle or twister tail that is usually, but not always, rigged on a lead jig head (more on rigging later). They can also be used as trailers behind other lures.
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Grubs imitate a variety of food forms including minnows, shad, leeches, tadpoles, nymphs, and crayfish with their compact form and subtle, slow-swimming motion.
Tip: While grubs are made in giant sizes up to nearly a foot long for saltwater species, the majority of grubs fished for bass range from 2-5 inches. For panfish and trout, diminutive grubs in the 1-2 inch range can be deadly. For pickerel and walleyes, a 3-4 inch grub is usually ideal.
Why are Grubs so Effective at Catching Fish?
Grubs are compact packages, and that makes them especially effective on the hard-pressured fish found on many popular fishing lakes today. It also allows them to realistically imitate the most common food types bass feed on such as minnows, young shad, crayfish, nymphs and other small morsels. A grub will vie with live minnows for the best offering for crappies.
These are also slow-falling baits, which adds to their appeal. Strikes on the drop are commonplace.
Extra Tip: Grubs are incredibly versatile. Swim them back steadily and they imitate a healthy baitfish. Hop them over bottom rocks and they become crayfish replicas. Jerk them at mid-depths and they become a wounded shad. Grubs are also good as trailers.
Extra Tip: Since these lures are often fished slowly, those with scent added or salt flavoring are often particularly appealing to bass.
Extra Tip: Popular colors for grubs include motor oil, smoke, black, purple, pumpkinseed, watermelon, chartreuse, white, and yellow, salt-and-pepper, blue, and shad.
Five Rigging Variations to Fish a Grub
1. Rig a Grub With a Leadhead Jig
The most common way to rig grubs is the simplest—thread them on a lead jig head. Round ball heads are used most often, but darter, football and standup heads are also popular. If vegetation or snags are abundant, leadheads with weed guards are useful.
Grubs can also be rigged Texas style, with the hook embedded in the body for a weedless presentation. Position a bullet-type sinker ahead of the hook on the line, usually pegged so it stays tight to the lure. This method basically uses the grub as a mini plastic worm. Three-five inch grubs are best for this application.
Tip: How to Setup the Texas Rig (video)
3. Try Surface-Rigging a Grub
A variation of the standard Texas rigging is to fish this rig with no weight other than the hook and grub. With spinning tackle and light line you can cast this to cover and it becomes a super soft topwater bait. It’s similar to a jerkbait, but is best fished with a quiet, slithering presentation instead of the typical darting action employed with those lures.
4. Rig a Grub Carolina Style
To rig a grub this way, use a barrel swivel, bead and egg-sinker weighing ¼-½ ounce, positioned 24-36 inches ahead of the lure. Rig the grub weedless with a small worm hook.
5. Fish a Grub Suspended off a Drop Shot Rig
This system uses a weight of about 1/8-1/2 ounces on the bottom and the grub tied to the line 8-18 inches above it attached lightly through the head to a small hook such as the Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot Hook or Mustad Drop Shot Hook.
Six Fishing Presentations That Work With Grubs
Try a variety of the fishing retrieves described below until you find the one that works best on a specific day on the water.
1. The Drop: Many strikes come on the “drop” with grubs. It takes close concentration to detect these strikes, which are often very subtle.
Tip: Watch the line carefully and allow just enough slack in it for a free-fall descent. At the slightest pause or twitch in the line, set the hook.
2. Simple Pull: One of the best ways to present grubs is to simply reel them back slowly and steadily across the bottom, preferably over cover. This imitates a smoothly swimming baitfish and is particularly useful for non-aggressive fish and cold water conditions.
3. Hopping: If a smooth delivery strikes out, try hopping the lure 12-14 inches. Then allow it to descend.
Tip: Most strikes with this presentation will come as the lure drops, between hops.
4. Ripping: This is a more violent version of the method above. Rip the lure 3-5 feet with a sweep of the rod. Then let it descend on “controlled slack.”
Tip: Don’t overdo this tactic. Save it for desperate situations when you can’t buy a strike with traditional retrieves.
5. Crankbait Style: This tactic involves fishing the grub in mid or upper water column levels. Reel it in almost like you would a crankbait, smooth and steady. But don’t worry about the lure dragging on the bottom.
Tip: This tactic works especially well on aggressive fish. It’s deadly on schooling bass, stripers, hybrids, and white bass breaking into shad on the surface.
6. Reel & Pause: A variation of the technique above is to reel part way back and then suddenly stop. The fishing lure will sink back down like a wounded shad running out of steam.
Tip: Be prepared for subtle strikes, mostly coming as the lure falls. If the fishing line twitches even slightly, set up hard!
Tip: Don’t move the fishing rod tip during the retrieve. Keep it still and simply reel slowly.
Places to Catch Fish With Grubs
Top spots to present grubs include gravel bars, bridge pilings, stone riprap, river channel edges, flooded roadbeds, submerged timber, weed beds, humps, docks, points, and mouths of creeks.