Pro bass angler Ken Cook from Meers, Okla., loves fishing with plastic grubs. He says fishing a leadhead and grub during cold weather is tops for smallmouth bass. You may want to try some of Cook’s ideas when you next chuck for smallies this winter — and even during other seasons.
Cook uses a darter leadhead of a hard alloy that stays shiny and he prefers the unpainted head. This adds a little flash to catch the smallmouth’s eye. He fishes with an open hook, and uses 1/8-ounce jigs for fishing down to 10 feet deep and the 1/4-ounce jig when fishing down to 25 feet or 30 feet.
He swims a grub in clear or cold water and when the fish are associated with open cover, such as rocky banks, bridge pilings, bluffs and docks, if there aren’t a lot of obstructions. You can swim a grub past most of the obstructions.
He switches to a 1/16-ounce jig and a 2-inch or 3-inch grub to fish for suspended bass beside bridge pilings. He recommends a light jig that doesn’t sink fast, but allows you to get down to where the fish are suspended. Maintain a slow retrieve to keep the bait in the strike zone longer. You may be in 50 feet of water with the fish at only 10 feet to 15 feet. You don’t want the bait to plummet through the zone where they are holding.
Use A Ripping Technique
The other time grubs work real well is when you have fish on a gravel bar or rock point with light cover. Fish a 1/4-ounce leadhead on the bottom in 15 feet of water with 6-pound or 8-pound test line. Cast the grub and give it slack line so it goes rocketing to the bottom and then you jerk it — a ripping technique. Hop it off the bottom real quick, pause and as it hits bottom again and rip it again. It’s a very erratic, triggering type retrieve. By whacking it along the bottom it attracts a lot of attention. The water temperature needs to be in the 50s for this to be effective. If the water is less than 50 degrees, lift the jig with your rod tip rather than ripping it.
While you are smallmouth fishing you may come across a good largemouth spot. This is when Cook uses the grub Texas rigged — like most people rig a plastic worm. He employs this technique with a baitcasting rod, flipping stick or pitching rod, because he’s going to use it with a sliding brass sinker, a glass bead and a worm hook. He hooks the grub so it’s weedless and he can fish it in heavy cover. The grub becomes a more versatile lure Texas rigged. Everybody knows bass live in logs, bushes, trees, and around boat docks, places where you can hang up with an open hook — this is the rig for that cover, he says.
His No. 1 choice is the 5-inch Lunker Grub because it’s the right size to give the fish enough bulk to make a good mouth full. It’s the most versatile soft plastic bait. He uses it in lieu of a plastic worm most of the time.
Another way he rigs a grub for largemouth as well as smallies in winter is with a split shot for finesse fishing. Clamp a split shot 12 inches to 18 inches in front of the grub and use a slow retrieve.
A variation of Carolina rigging is using the grub instead of a lizard or worm since the grub imitates a shad more than other plastic baits. When the fish are keyed on shad you’ll get more bites.
If you want to catch numbers, get a limit in a hurry or if the fishing is real tough, try Carolina rigging a grub, or split-shotting. You aren’t going to necessarily catch bigger fish, Cook says, but this is one rig that will get a lot more bites.
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