[Editor’s note: This is a two part series on pork rind and its rise, fall and rise again, fall again pattern in bass fishing.]
Poll 100 bass anglers between the ages of 15 and 30 about pork rind and I’ll bet you get a lot of strange looks. Ask them if they’ve ever used it bass fishing and I bet you’ll get a 100-percent response of “no.” Then take a poll of anglers from 40 to 60 and ask the same question. I would be willing to bet a 100-count bag of Senkos they’d predominantly say “yes.” Then ask them when the last time they actually used it was.
I’d bet few have even had it in their boat for 20 years or more.
It’s easy to understand; pork is a pain in the rear to keep wet, even more of a pain to get it off a hook if dried out. It tends to rust hooks if they’re not cleaned well after use and the salt brine solution they’re stored in doesn’t mix well with the carpet of a bass boat. Plastic is so easy to deal with on so many counts.
Essentially pork rind as a trailer or stand-alone bait is as dead as the animal it was rendered from.
It isn’t the first time this has happened, though.
From the early 1900s through the ‘60s you weren’t even considered a decent bass angler if you didn’t have a few jars of pork rind in your tackle box. Names like Lutz, Pedigo, Al Foss, Louis Johnson and Uncle Josh were all part of the fishing language. Nearly every article written about bass fishing at least mentioned the use of pork rind. Then in the early ‘70s, it went the way of the Dodo bird.
New plastics, alphabet lures, buzzbaits and spider jigs all played a part in sending the pig skin to the bench.
Then, around the 1980 timeframe a couple of Arkansans by the name of Huland Nations and Bob Carnes changed that.
Actually it was the 1977 Arkansas State Bass Tournament that got the ball rolling when Nations put a beating on 400 other entrants using what would eventually become the Jig-n-Pig. About that same time, Carnes was experimenting with living rubber (and inventing the Arkie Jig) and using pork as a trailer on his jigs. What followed was Uncle Josh, the only manufacturer of pork rind left, couldn’t keep up with demand from a four-state region of the Midwest. The pork boom was on – for a second time.
Then around the mid-‘90s, the bait pretty much took a backseat to other techniques and baits, primarily the tube thanks to Denny Brauer, Guido Hibdon and Tommy Biffle. Jars of pork sit in the garages of bass anglers rusting and crusting as they will until someone wins a big tournament on them again.
It’s funny how history repeats itself over the course of time. I say this with a lot of confidence, pork will make a comeback at some point in time. It’s too good a bait not to. When will that be? I’m not going to make any guesses. But it will, I promise.
In Part Two of this series I’m going to share more old literature and pictures of just how important the bait was in the early years and also share some other pieces that were written in the ‘80s and ‘90s. In those ads, articles and manuals you’ll see the bait wasn’t just designed and used as a trailer for a jig or spoon. To start off, though, here’s a piece that was written and published in Don Fuelsch’s 1962 Southern Anglers Guide complete with some pretty cool ads.