Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, the late and great Guido Hibdon introduced Midwest finesse anglers to creature baits, and many of us have been affixing them to our jigs ever since that awakening.
Lately, we have been focusing our Midwest Finesse gear guides on a variety of soft-plastic centipedes and hellgrammites that modern-day Midwest finesse anglers can affix to their small mushroom-style jigs with an exposed hook.
Several weeks ago, a veteran Midwest finesse angler sent us a River Rock Custom Baits' Helgripede, suggesting that we should publish a gear guide about it. And upon examining it, we agreed.
We talked with Robert Shue of Waynesboro, Virginia, who is the proprietor of River Rock Custom Baits. He told us that his company was born in 2010, and the first Helgripede was manufactured in 2012.
Since then, the Helgripede has become such an effective and popular finesse bait that others have copied and are manufacturing it. During these six years, scores of recreaional and tournament anglers have been praising it as the finest soft-plastic centipede-style bait ever made. They laud its texture, saying its suppleness and softness is unparalled in the tackle industry, an its superior texture enhances its ability to undulate and quiver alluringly when anglers present it to their quarries. In addition to the high quality of its texture, anglers exclaim that the colors of the Helgripede are stellar, and they note that no soft-plastic-bait manufacturer can match Shue's genius.
Its torso is three inches long. The circumference in the middle of its torso is fifteen-sixteenths of an inch, and it is five-sixteenths of an inch wide.
Its belly is flat. Its sides and dorsal possess the shape of a semi-circle.
One of its ends is flat. It possesses a circumference of 1 1/16 inches and a width of seven-sixteenths of an inch. An appendage radiates off of each side of this end. They are 1 1/2 inches long, and some anglers might call them antennae.
The other end is somewhat dome-shaped. It has a circumference of about seven-eighths of an inch, and its width is about an eighth of an inch. It is endowed with two appendages, which are about seven-sixteenths of an inch long.
When those four appendages are straight, the length of the Helgripede becomes a subtle 5 1/4 inches long.
Thirteen leg-like appendages extend from each side of its torso. Some are nine-sixteenths of an inch long; some are a half of an inch long; some are three-quarters of an inch long.
The textures of the skin that surrounds its torso possesses a multitude of minuscule lines, which encircle its belly, sides, and dorsal.
Shue told us that it is a very effective smallmouth bass lure for anglers who ply the river and streams that flow through the Appalachian Mountain Range and other rivers and streams that grace the countryside in the eastern states.
According to Shue, the Helgripede will catch vast numbers of smallmouth bass and some hefty ones to boot. He says that the most fruitful time of the year to use it occurs in the summer when the water temperature is at its highest point and oxygen levels are at their lowest. "The Helgripede," Shue said, "just gets eaten when bass aren't willing to chase any other offerings. I am a river fisherman so I like to cast it into the slack seam of the current and allow the Helgripede to slowly sink through the water column. To achieve this slow sinking presentation, I use as small of a slip sinker as possible. I have noticed when the Helgripede sinks too quickly, many of the smallmouth bass — especially the hefty ones -- are reluctant to engulf it."
Shue affixes the Helgripede Texas-style onto a good quality black nickel hook in the No. 1 or 1/0 size. He prefers an offset worm hook with a light-wire diameter. He usually works with either Gamakatsu's standard offset shank hook or an Owner one. As a sinker, Shue opts for either a 1/32- or a 1/16-ounce bullet-shaped slip sinker.
If the Helgripede fails to inveigle a smallmouth bass on its initial drop, Shue employs a drag-and-deadstick presentation by holding his rod at the 10 o'clock position and slowly lifting it to the 12 o'clock position, and he executes an eight- to 10-second pause before the next drag commences.
Shue noted that most lake and reservoir anglers will wacky rig it or use it on a drop-shot rig.
Midwest finesse anglers, however, will affix the Helgripede to a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, like River Rock's Tactical Finesse Jig. And they will use it with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves.
Anglers can order customized colors of the Helgripede or purchase them in the following colors: Banana Blast, Bile w/Green, Black, Black Melon Flake, Black Neon, Chartreuse Blaze, Chartreuse Pepper, Chocolate Mint, Dark Special, Dill Pickle, Electric Lime, Green Pumpkin Flash, Green Pumpkin w/Black, Green Pumpkin w/Copper, Harvest Moon, Junebug, Light Special, Mocha Jam, Oxblood w/Black, Penn Melon Flash, Pumpkin Pepper, Purple Haze, Red Shad, Smoke Purple Copper, Red Shad, Smoke w/Black, Starry Night, Texas Tea, Texas Tea w/Copper, Watermelon w/Red, and White.
A package of eight costs $5.99.
(1) Here is the link to River Rock Custom Baits' website: http://riverrockbaits.com/.
(2) Here are several links to four gear guides that we have published about River Rock Custom Baits:
https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/river-rock-custom-baits-crawler-jig/; https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/river-rock-custom-baits-2-34-inch-fat-stick/; https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/river-rock-custom-baits-rr-striker/; https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/river-rocks-132-ounce-tactical-finesse-jig/.
(3) Here is a link to a Midwest Finesse column that describes how, and where Midwest finesse anglers will use their six retrieves with the Helgripede affixed to mushroom-style jig: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/.
(4) Since the demise of Gopher Tackle, Midwest finesse anglers have been searching for a 1/32-ounce mushroom-shaped jig. Robert Shue has one that has caught the eyes of several Midwest finesse anglers, and he recently reported on the Finesse News Network that River Rock Custom Baits is selling an unpainted 1/32-ounce Tactical Finesse Jig with a No. 2, No. 4, or No. 6 Eagle Claw 570 black-platinum hook. A package of 10 unpainted 1/32-ouncers costs $6.50. Here is a link to it at his website: https://river-rock-custom-baits.myshopify.com/products/1-32-oz-tactical-finesse-jig.