September 4, 2014 by Matt Williams
Here’s a one-of-a-kind square-bill that crankbait junkies might want to think about adding to their shallow-water arsenal. I’m hesitant to call the Big Bubba new because Strike Pro actually unveiled it awhile back. Even so, a lot of anglers might not be aware of it, mainly because the lure has been kept under wraps by secretive pros that have been using it to reel in some heavy sacks of bass while remaining tight-lipped about how they were doing it.
Going Big in Skinny Water
The Big Bubba is exactly what its name implies: big … jumbo … large. Measuring 3 1/8 inches long and weighing 1 ounce, it’s a hulk of a crankbait that represents a big meal and moves a ton of water as it rumbles through the shallows with a reckless, side-to-side wobble that will rattle your rod all the way down to the handle.
“L” Bill Design
The main factor lending to the Big Bubba’s signature swag and shallow diving depth is its peculiar-looking bill. Molded from durable hard plastic, the nose bill protrudes downward at a slight angle for about 1/2 inch before turning outward at 90 degrees to form a distinctive “L” shape. The unique stairstep design not only limits the diving depth, but also creates a significant amount of resistance when the lure goes in motion. According to Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division pro Stephen Johnston of Hemphill, Texas, the result is a radical wobble that will sometimes trigger vicious strikes when other lures fail.
“I’ve pulled in right behind guys who weren’t getting bit on other baits and whacked ’em on it,” Johnston said. “It’s a really big crankbait that you can do a lot of different things with in shallow water. You can crawl it over the tops of hydrilla beds, work it through lily pad stems and bushes, or crash it into rocks and stumps. There’s not really anything else out there like it. It gives them a different look they haven’t seen before.”
Talking it Up
The Big Bubba has a manly “voice” to accompany its large profile, thanks to an interior weight-transfer system comprised of two BBs roughly the size of 00 buckshot. The hefty steel balls clamor side-to-side near the lure’s head and produce a deep “thunk” the fish can detect from a considerable distance, while at the same time enhancing castability.
“Two things you’ll notice about this bait is it casts a mile and it never barrel rolls when you cast it,” Johnston added. “It always travels tail-first, even when you throw it into big wind.”
Tweaking the Retrieve
Johnston said the Big Bubba can be effective year-round at any retrieve speed, but he prefers to work at slow and medium speeds.
“I base my retrieve on what the fish are wanting and the depth of the cover I’m fishing around,” he said. “If you hold the tip high you can run it 6 inches below the surface, but if you poke the tip 3 to 4 inches down into the water you can make it run 2 to 3 feet deep at the same retrieve speed with 16- to 20-pound-test monofilament. You can throw it on fluorocarbon and get it a little deeper if you need to.”
Johnston’s Big Bubba Setup
Rod: A 7- or 7 1/2-foot medium-heavy is a good choice. Johnston’s favorite is a 7 1/2-foot Shimano Crucial Flipping Stick. “It’s too big to throw on the same crankin’ stick you throw other square-bills on,” he said. “I like a fairly long rod with a light tip for casting distance, but I also want something with some backbone for fighting large fish.”
Reel: Shimano 6.2:1
Line: Sunline 16- to 20-pound-test monofilament
Length: 3 1/8 inches
Size: 1 ounce
Diving Depth: 5 feet
Hooks: No. 2 VMC trebles