Pork or Plastic? - Major League Fishing

Pork or Plastic?

February 26, 2001 • David Hart • Major League Lessons

Pro anglers Denny Brauer and Curt Lytle sound off on jig-fishing’s trailer debate

Bass fishing has always been a matter of choices, but since the inception of soft plastics, the choices have become a bit more complicated. Do pork trailers work better than plastic ones? And does one have a distinct advantage over the other?

For Virginia pro Curt Lytle, the decision is an easy one. Pork has become a relic of his father’s era. Now, the full-time professional angler keeps a boat full of plastic trailers. He hasn’t touched a piece of pork in years.

“Plastic has so many advantages over pork that I just don’t use pork at all anymore,” he says. “I haven’t seen any reason to use pork in my career and I haven’t noticed a difference in my catch rates.”

Denny Brauer, one of the country’s top money winners, also favors plastic, but relies on Strike King Junior BoHawg pork trailers for specific situations.

“I like pork in cold water and cold weather. I’ll use pork if a jig-and-pig is going to be my primary pattern and I don’t have to worry about it drying out when I’m not using it. It won’t dry as fast in colder weather,” says the Missouri pro.

That’s been the major complaint among professional and recreational anglers all along. Who hasn’t dealt with a dried-up chunk of meat on the end of their jig at one time or another? Forget about it for a few hours on a blistering summer day and you’ll need a hacksaw to carve it off your hook.

“The problem I have with pork, and lots of other anglers have also, is that pork can flip around on the hook and cause you to miss a fish. The hook won’t penetrate it when that happens because it’s so tough,” says Lytle. “That’s not a problem with plastic.”

Brauer agrees, but adds that bass tend to hang on to a jig tipped with pork a little longer than a jig-and-plastic-trailer combination. That’s important, particularly for anglers just learning the nuances of jig fishing.

“The confidence factor is critical for every angler. If you don’t believe in your choice of lure then you aren’t going to fish with as much concentration as you need to be,” he says. “I think it’s a trade-off. You may miss a bite every once in a while, but you’ll catch more fish in the long run.”

The disadvantages of plastic? It tears easily, agree Brauer and Lytle, and for anglers on a tight budget, replacing a ripped trailer after three bites can put a dent in the family bank account. Softer plastic trailers also tend to rip when pitched up under docks and around heavy brush repeatedly. Lytle, however, has come up with an easy solution to ripped plastics.

“The way I avoid ripped plastic is with a couple of toothpicks,” explains Lytle. “I put my plastic on and then run a toothpick crossways through the plastic on either side of the hook. That trailer will stay on there a long time with those toothpicks. I just make sure I break off the toothpicks even with the plastic. That’s important.”

Lytle typically uses only the largest Hawg Caller Chunk trailers available, but adds that he trims them as the need arises. A pair of scissors is the best tool, but a knife, he says, will do in a pinch.

“I can trim a large Hawg Caller trailer to any size and shape I want. The size of the trailer dictates how fast or slow the lure falls. The drop rate is probably the most important aspect of jig fishing,” he says. “Also, I don’t need to carry different sizes, just different colors.”

And that’s another advantage of plastic over pork – the wide range of colors available. Both Brauer and Lytle typically match the trailer to the jig color, something that can’t always be done with pork. Some jig manufacturers make plastic trailers from the same material from which they make their jig skirts, making the problem of matching all but obsolete.

“Sometimes, particularly if the water is dirty, it’s okay to have a slightly different-colored trailer,” notes Brauer. “That helps the fish see the bait a little better. Most of the time, however, I want my trailer to match.”

How about neither? Does it make sense to use a jig without a pork or plastic trailer? No, agree Brauer and Lytle.

“A jig is supposed to imitate a crawfish and the trailer helps complete the silhouette,” explains Brauer. “I always use one.”

The choice, both experts say, comes down to confidence. Pork and plastic are both proven additions to a jig, so it’s really a matter of using the one that you believe will catch the most bass.