Rubby dubby – groundbaiting the sea

Rubby dubby is a form of groundbait used for boat angling at sea. It is made from minced fish, bran and fish oil and is designed to lay a long bait trail which predatory fish follow to the source. Fish with oily flesh, such as mackerel and herring, make the best, most potent dubby – perhaps because oil globules tend to stick together and make a trail, rather than dissolving and so dispersing in the water.

The ‘higher’ the concoction, the better it seems to work, so in many cases it pays to use decomposing rather than fresh fish. Rubby dubby is mainly used to attract sharks, but the principles can be applied to many different species of sea fish.

Skippers of sharking boats buy their fish oil in five gallon containers from animal food suppliers. Bran can be bought from the same source or from pet shops. The bran soaks up the oil and fish particles and separates in the sea, laying an ever-widening slick, or smell lane. If you are only an occasional sea angler, a smaller bottle of oil bought from your tackle shop is enough.

Bags of dubby

Once mixed in quantity, the dubby is ladled into mesh onion sacks. For surface and mid-water feeders like shark and bass, these are hung over the side of the boat so that they are only half submerged in the water. In this way, the movement of the boat on the swell repeatedly smashes the bag into the water, releasing a constant stream of dubby particles.

For conger eels and spurdog, a simpler form of rubby dubbying can be highly effective. Tie the mesh bag filled with bran, fish oils and minced fish to the anchor chain. This quickly gets the dubby down to the bot- wasting all your dubby.

Some anglers fishing for black bream use a bait dropper to get groundbait down to the fish. Though it is much larger than the type of dropper used in coarse angling, it works on the same principle. The wire which holds the front of the dropper closed is released as it hits the sea bed. This automatically releases dubby and creates a scent trail leading right to your hook.

An extremely simple way of laying a scent trail is to use a perforated 35mm film cannister. Load it with cotton wool or sponge soaked in fish oil and attach it between your weight and running boom.

Many fish respond to a smelly rubby dubby trail. Considering the numbers of fish that anglers catch using one version or another of the dubby technique, it is amazing its use isn’t more universal. torn – where it’s needed. The only disadvantage with this method is that spurdog, like shark, are inclined to attack and shred the mesh bag in a desperate attempt to get at the dubby inside.


An almost mythical technique for ground-baiting at sea is to use a paper bag filled with rubby dubby, and loaded with a stone. You simply tie the bag to your line and give it a sharp tug when it reaches the bottom. The stone breaks the bag, releasing the groundbait. This is fine in theory but works less well in practice. More often than not the tide causes the waterlogged paper to split long before it reaches the bottom,