Uncle Josh 1977 catalog cover

Uncle Josh Pork Rind Baits were popular for decades. Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say they were popular in streaks, rising and falling, and rising and falling again, in popularity over the course of their 100-year tenure on the sport fishing scene. This catalog is from 1977, right when Uncle Josh was ready to make a resurgence following an early 1970s dry spell.

Terry Battisti writes in Pork: The Forgotten Bait – Part One, that the early 1970s pork baits “went the way of the Dodo bird,” thanks in large part to the “new plastics, alphabet lures, buzzbaits and spider jigs” that had entered the market. 

But then, Battisti writes, “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.”

Uncle Josh catalog pg. 2

This catalog is dated 1977, but catalogs were generally printed the preceding year. There’s small print at the bottom of page 2 that reads, “9-1-76 1977 Prices Effective September 1, 1976” and the only mention of any tournament success is on page 9, where the text speaks of the Twin-Tails bait: “As further evidence of the Twin-Tails’ ability to draw a crowd, early in ‘73 the U3 pattern chalked up two bass tournament wins.”

It’s a good bet that had they gone to print knowing of Huland Nations’ win at the Arkansas tourney, Uncle Josh would have highlighted the win in the catalog. Maybe they did indeed do that very thing the following year. We don’t have the 1978 catalog, but if any readers do have it please let us know so that we can share it with the rest of the BFA  community. It would be interesting to see just how the company responded, in print, to Nations’ success with pork bait.

The cover of the catalog is pretty great. It shows a school of chunky bass swirling about underwater while one of their number is about to strike a spinnerbait equipped with the new Ripple-Rind trailer. The text proudly declares that the Ripple-Rind was “pork rind’s answer to the plastic twisters.” Mr. Twister and other curly tail plastic lures were huge in the 1970s, and it only made good business sense that Uncle Josh would try to capitalize on that success. So they basically copied the curly tail format but in pork skin instead of plastic.

The catalog also says that the new Ripple-Rind is “the first, revolutionary change in pork rind bait design in over fifty years and a real hustler!” 

They do tout what seem to be the Ripple-Rind’s legitimate advantages over plastic twister tails: “While it’s extremely flexible natural flesh, it still retains the toughness and strength of our other pork baits. It’s infinitely more durable than the plastic forms. It can’t be pulled apart. It won’t lose its hindquarters in a taffy-pull with a big fish. And, temperature extremes in fresh and salt water are not harmful to it.” No doubt the pork Ripple-Rind was more durable and tougher than plastic, which an angler surely learned first hand when he tried to remove a sun-dried pork bait from a spinnerbait hook.

Uncle Josh 1977 catalog pg. 6

You could get 3 to 8 baits per jar, depending on size, and you were only out, according to the catalog, a list price of $1.40 per jar. Pork was an economical alternative to plastic and those prices are a far cry from what pork baits command today. Shoot, Uncle Josh made buying easy back then, because every jar of pork, regardless of bait style, cost $1.40. You could even afford to splurge and get yourself an Uncle Josh embroidered jacket patch for only $1.

The catalog is long on enticing descriptions for all of the Uncle Josh products, highlighting the features and providing how-to’s for fishing each bait. There are also pages for the company’s Spinrite, Marabou Spinrite, Bass Snatcher buzzbaits, dough and cheese baits, and a line of Salmon Egg baits with a full page on how and why to fish them.

If all that didn’t convince you to try at least some the company’s line of baits, the catalog closes with a page of testimonials from anglers who love and praise the company’s offerings.

Uncle Josh 1977 catalog back cover

Along with the catalog came two form letters addressed to “Fellow Sportsman,” with a special offer for a combination of 5 Spinrite, Marabou Spinrite and Kicker lures for only $5. Shipping was only $1. Man, if I only had a time machine.

The entire 1977 Uncle Josh catalog is posted below in the gallery. Click on the first image and use the arrows to navigate through the gallery.
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Gallery – Uncle Josh 1977 Catalog