Save A Pig

ANCO Creations Save A Pig ad circa 1982.

ANCO Creations Save A Pig ad circa 1982.

The title of this piece may give you the idea we’re going P3TA on you – absolutely not. But if you’re old enough to remember the pork rind revival of 1980, this won’t just make sense, you probably have a couple of these little gems behind the workbench in your garage.

Around the time when the ‘70s turned into the ‘80s a renaissance of sorts took place in the Arkansas/Missouri area. Bassmaster Staff Writer Dave Precht wrote about the resurgence in the January 1980 issue of Bassmaster Magazine (see Jig & Pork Frog Revival, pgs 78-84) citing that Uncle Josh, the only commercial-scale manufacturer of pork rind at the time, couldn’t keep up with the demand that only four states – Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma – were requiring.

The resurgence of pork used as a jig trailer to mimic a crawdad brought about a number of changes in the industry. No longer was Uncle Josh’s best seller the #11 Pork Frog in the green frog pattern – a pattern that made up 90% of Uncle Josh’s sales prior to the revolution. Uncle Josh was now coming out with new colors, such as black and brown, along with developing different sizes of the fake pork amphibian. Anglers far and wide were buying record amounts of pig and winning events from the local Wednesday nighter to major tour events.

The problem with pork, and probably the reason for its first decline, was the simple fact that it needs to stay wet in order to be fishable. That’s easy when you’re actually fishing it. It becomes a major pain, though, when you need to pick up a different rod for a while or need to make a move down the lake in the middle of the summer.  Pork has a tendency to dry out and become stiff, it also shrinks. At this point, you needed a knife to cut off the old piece in order to change it out for a new one.

In the January 1980 issue of Bassmaster Magazine, Dave Precht wrote about the resurgence of pork. He said it was one of the articles he is most proud of to this day.

In the January 1980 issue of Bassmaster Magazine, Dave Precht wrote about the resurgence of pork. He said it was one of the articles he is most proud of to this day.

And herein lies the next invention – the Save-A-Pig. ANCO Creations, out of Kansas City, MO, developed the foam cover that the angler could wet, place on the rod with the jig inside, and keep the pork moist. Within a year every angler had half a dozen of these accoutrements in their boat and on their rods, saving their pork from an early demise along with keeping crankbaits from tangling other sticks on the deck.

I bought a few of the pig savers when they first came out but found them to be a pain to use. Not only that, invariably I’d forget to close them tightly, which led to them flying off the rod on any jaunt to a new location. Instead, I dealt with the situation by placing the bait in the water when not being used and I’d put the bait in a small Tupperware container when en route to another spot. Maybe not the best solution but it worked for me.

What really confuses me about pork, though, is it’s been nearly extinct for the past 10 years or more. What was the wonder lure from the 80s through the early 90s has been relegated – again – to the inactive list. With so many low maintenance plastic trailers on the market today, no one seems willing to give the hog a chance. That’s crazy when you think of the attributes pork offers the angler when it comes to trailer options. For example, pork has a considerably different density than plastics. It also is a real material and cured in brine solution. So many anglers back in the day swore that finicky fish would hold on to the pork longer than a jig tipped with plastic.

You also see the current flat-line of pork in tackle stores nationwide. It used to be that any shop worth dropping a dime in would have cases of the bait for sale. Now you’re lucky to find a case – total.

It’s the same old story we’ve told time and time again. It’s the ebb and flow of the fishing industry and the tackle that’s hot. Pork, for the second time, is like a virus lying dormant awaiting the right conditions to rear its ugly face. I’m not saying when it’ll come back en vogue but I guarantee you, at some point it will and ANCO Creations and Uncle Josh will thank you – again.

  • Steve Quinn

    Uncle Josh, now renamed as “Hard and Soft Fishing,” in reference to ice fishing and open-water fishing, now offers “Meat” pork products. I’ve had great success with them, and they come in resealable bags like softbaits. They are made of pork fat, so they have the flavor and texture of the original, but lack the skin. That means they won’t dry out as readily and shrink. And you can set the hook right through the pork, unlike the old ones that occasionally produced a missed or lost fish when the point stuck in the hide. On the other hand, they are not as durable as the originals and fall off on occasion. I’ve always carried pork jars, too, as the stuff can’t be beat when you are skipping jigs under docks with a baitcaster.

  • Bruce W.

    Let me know if I say to much?
    I had several Save A Pigs, given to me, by customers at Sixshooter Marina, on Lake Tenkiller,who knew I favored a jig and pork chunk while I worked there in the mid to late 70’s.. The Siloam Springs bass club, fished Arkie Jigs and pork chunks, and even had the guy who started Arkie Jigs as a member. These were hair jigs….not rubber…which as far as I know, didn’t come out until about 1980?

    Anyway, those guys, would have all night club tourny’s, in the winter! Snowmobile Suits were just coming to style in my area, They caught a lot of fish, and would come into the marina for hot coffee, and preach the jig and chunk to me. They mainly fished out of Kenzie Kraft boats, which may have been the first V hull bass boats, and they put yellow semi-truck running lights on the sides, so they could spot club members, in the dark. One of them, his name may have been Bill Ruble, brought in a bass that weighed 9-2 on our old scales, it could have been heavier. Yes, I was converted, and fished Arkie Jigs and pork religiously, I also remember buying Lutz and Pedigo Pork products, one of them made a “Lepigator”? also a salamander, which I would cut the head off, to shorten the bait.
    thanks for the old memories!
    Bruce W.

  • Andy Williamson

    Love my pork and have over 150 jars of Uncle Josh. (most received by qualifying for the Big Bass World Championship several years). Uncle Josh would give state winners a 5 year supply. I also have some old Pedigo and Super Pork, and have purchased several Sav-A-Pigs, which work good, especially if you keep dunking them in water
    When Jared Lintner wins the Classic with U.Josh, the company will really profit.
    They are a great trailer, as Steve says, because they will stay put on the hook.