May 27, 2017
By Ned Kehde
Soft-plastic hellgrammites have never been part of the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers.
But during the past decade, some of these anglers have been in search of a soft-plastic creature bait to affix onto a 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig, and they have concluded that a soft-plastic hellgrammite might fit that need.
At the behest of these anglers, we will publish a series of gear guides in 2017 about the various hellgrammites that might be suitable for Midwest finesse anglers to use.
The etymological descriptions of the hellgrammite can vary quite significantly from one etymologist's description to the descriptions of other etymologists. Here is a short synopsis of those various descriptions:
A hellgrammite is the larval form of a Dobson fly, and the lifespan of its larval stage can stretch from one to five years. When they reach maturity, some can be five inches long, but most are 2 1/2 inches long. Some folks describe them as aquatic centipedes. (And it is important to note that soft-plastic renditions of a centipede have played a significant role in the repertoire of some finesse anglers who ply the reservoirs across the Ozarks, and they use it on a split-shot rig.)
Its head, thorax, and abdomen are relatively flat. It is an invertebrate, and the skin that covers these three segments is thick. The color of the skin can range from black to brown to gray to tan.
The tip of its head is adorned with short antennae and a mandible or pincher jaws. The jaws are sharp, and hellgrammites are known to administer painful bites. Their jaws also assist them to forage upon amphibians, aquatic insect larvae, crustaceans, mollusks, small fish, and any small invertebrate that is a bottom dweller.
Its thorax has three pairs of legs, which are called prolegs.
Its abdomen is segmented, and eight pairs of appendages radiate off of each side of the abdomen. Each of these eight appendages is crowned with cottony or hairy or frilly gills, which is part of the respiratory system.
At the tip of the abdomen, there is a pair of hooked appendages, and some etymologists say that these hooked appendages help the hellgrammites from being swept away from their abodes by various kinds of water currents. The tip also contains some anal tubules. Above the anal tubules, there are some ventral tubules.
Hellgrammites primarily abide under rocks in well-oxygenated streams. They are also known to inhabit spring seeps, ponds, wetlands, bogs, marshes, swamps, natural lakes, and reservoirs that are not polluted.
For years on end, there have been a significant number of river and stream anglers who have used live hellgrammites to inveigle largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. Since the advent of soft-plastic hellgrammites, some of these anglers have been using them instead of live ones.
Even though the hellgrammite has not played a minor role in the tactics of the anglers who spend their days plying reservoirs and natural lakes, the profile of a hellgrammite in the eyes of some anglers is an impressive creature bait. And the bait designers and engineers at Berkley worked on creating an abstract version of a hellgrammite that is three inches long. It is called the Gulp! Hellgrammite.
It was introduced to the angling world about three years ago. Since then, some finesse anglers have been affixing it to a drop-shot rig, a split-shot rig, or a small Carolina rig. What's more, they have been catching some black bass in reservoirs.
Across the years, Midwest finesse anglers have found that drop-shot rigs and split-shot rigs are not as effective as a soft-plastic bait affixed to a 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig or a Z-Man Fishing Product's 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
The three-inch Gulp! Hellgrammite is available in two colors: black and green pumpkin.
They are impregnated with a poignant scent.
A package of 12 can be purchased for $5.99.
They are 100-percent biodegradable.
(1) Here is a link to Berkley's website: http://www.berkley-fishing.com/berkley-bait-soft-bait-berkley-gulp/gulp-hellgramite/1285373.html.
(2) We are eager for Midwest finesse anglers to field test the Gulp! Hellgrammite on a small mushroom-style jig and file a report about its effectiveness in the comment section below.
(3) In the weeks to come, we hope to publish more gear guides about other soft-plastic hellgrammites that Midwest finesse anglers can use as a creature bait on a small mushroom-style jig. Please send us suggestions about the ones we should feature.