In Part One of this series on pork rind, we talked a bit about the back-and-forth history of the bait and its importance in the annals of bass fishing. Today in Pork: The Forgotten Bait – Part Two, we’re going to take a look at more of its history and dive even deeper into some of the old articles, catalogs, books and even some more contemporary pieces on the bait.
On to the later years.
Next is the catalog published by the Louis Johnson Company. Although Pure Fishing now owns the Johnson Silver Minnow, they don’t seem to delineate it from the other Johnson company that made the Century spincast reels (which they also own). It’s sad because on their homepage they mention a little about the history of the Johnson Reel company, stating it started in 1949 but don’t make any mention that Louis Johnson Company started in 1920, or that they were even different companies. Makes you wonder if they even know?
Anyway, I digress.
I ran into this 1952 Louis Johnson catalog a while back and was duly impressed with its content. Not only was Louis Johnson interested in showcasing their goods, they hired top-notch writers of the time to talk about how to use the baits. The list of writers included none other than Robert Page Lincoln, who we just wrote about a couple days ago, and a litany of other famous writer/anglers of the time.
The pamphlet featured not just their spoons but also their line of pork baits to be fished either with their spoons or alone. Robert Page Lincoln wrote two pieces for the pamphlet telling how to use the baits as did Preston Bradley.
Lincoln’s first article, Pork Rind Fishing Is America’s Favorite Way, talks about Johnson’s new storage solution and the fact it won’t rust your tackle and it came in four colors – white, green, red, and yellow. He also gives some hints on some of the lures to use it with, predominantly the Silver Minnow.
His second article, titled, Pork Rind Fishing For Bass And Other Gamefish Species, goes a little more in-depth on where to target bass with the rind. I find it interesting that he says to concentrate in the shallows but that’s where the bait, used as a trailer on a spoon, was intended to be fished.
Lincoln also talks about the weedless properties of the spoon and rind – not to be afraid of casting into the junk. He talks of “horsing the fish” out of the cover and skidding its head across the surface. Lincoln was one of the first writers of the day to teach would-be anglers to fish in the densest cover found on the water. He had no qualms losing a bait or two during the day if it meant he was going to get bit. Both of these articles are provided at the bottom of this article for you to read. Remember to click on the picture(s) to enlarge them to a readable size.
Next, we’re going to jump forward a few decades to the 1980s and ‘90s. The beginning of the second coming of pork saw only one company manufacturing the pigskin artificial, that being Uncle Josh. But it wouldn’t take long for a couple of other companies to pop up and give a bit of competition to the incumbent. Of those companies, Strike King, Super Pork and Hog Hair Bait Company were the strongest.
Strike King, probably the best known, hit the ground hard with their formidable pro-staff, namely Denny Brauer, and put a dent in Uncle Josh’s coffers. Then there was the Hog Hair Bait Company who made pork baits with the hair still attached claiming that the hair would tangle in the teeth of a bass and make it harder for the fish to spit out. It was a great concept that caught on with a lot of anglers.
The third company to get on the pigskin bandwagon was Super Pork. This company didn’t just stamp out pork rind baits, they listened to the anglers and gave them what they wanted. Anglers purchasing Uncle Josh and Strike King brands found the pork to be inconsistent in cut along with softness. Super Pork not only made cuts that anglers preferred they softened the pork so it had nearly a silky feel to it.
The last article we’re going to look at comes from waning years of the pork empire – 1995.
I was reading in a Master Tournament Angler magazine (thanks RichZ for letting me borrow these) and found a great piece by venerable jig fisherman Denny Brauer. Titled, Selecting A Jig Trailer, Brauer talks about pork of all things.
The article, although not completely about pork, is about how to choose a trailer and why he switches from one material to another – “I just switch back and forth until I find out what the fish prefer.”
One pork myth that Brauer uncovers in this piece is the fact that if you want your jig to fall slower, you don’t need pork to accomplish the task. “Altering the head of the jig and trying different jig weights are two ways you can alter the lure’s fall no matter what type of trailer you use.”
Another myth he touches on is the hot weather use plastic, cold weather use pork myth. At the beginning of the article he says, “I don’t base my selection on water temperature as much anymore, although I still lean toward using pork in cold water and plastic in real hot weather.” Personally, I always felt it was the laziness of the angler not wanting to deal with pork drying out in hot weather more than anything.
Although the article talks a lot about pork, it wouldn’t be but a couple more years and pork would become another casualty to the fishing industry. Today it’s all about umbrella rigs, hollow-body frogs, vibration jigs and swimbaits, to name a few.
Today, the only real player in the market is Uncle Josh. There are a couple of companies out of Japan that are making pork baits – one is Tsurikichi Horemone, available at Carolina Fishing Tackle and Big Daddy Custom Pork Baits. Unfortunately, Big Daddy is only available in Japan. The other company is Papaw E Pork Toads who is a local U.S. veteran-owned Company.
The market is just now starting to get back going but someday in the future some noteworthy angler is going to win a big event on, as Robert Page Lincoln said, the porcine attractors, and we’ll all be racing to the computer to buy pork from Tackle Warehouse or Bass Pro Shops. Who knows, maybe there are some top pros that are already using it and just not saying. Maybe you should use past history to your benefit and put yourself at the head of the curve. I’m just sayin’.
Brilliant and a very necessary article. Pork is, imo, a secret to a lot of fishing success. It’s an awesome invention or innovation that I don’t think gets enough credit or attention. I’ve purchased Papaw E’s pork and find them to be quite a good product. How about that Johnson’s Silver Minnow and pork jar combo! What I wouldn’t give to have one of those in my collection.
Dave, Glad you enjoyed the article. It’s one of my favorite so far. You’re right about Pork not getting the credit it deserves. At least these days. I was around when the second coming of pork happened in the late 70s. We sold 10s of cases per week at the shop and always had at least 100 cases in stock at any time. Mostly it was Uncle Josh but we also sold a westcoast brand called Super Pork, which, IMO, was the best pork ever made. Their cuts were much better than UJ and the fact that they ball-milled all their pork before selling it meant it was very soft.
I’ve been contemplating getting some of Papaw E’s pork but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.
Thanks again for the comment!