pennfishing82

Bucktails. To trailer or not to trailer

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One other point I forgot to mention regarding the broader subject of "Trailers" is that Pork Rinds have a huge advantage of curly tail grubs and soft plastics. If you're fishing bucktails, you want your trailer to flutter.

 

Besides being able to fish a variety of sizes of rinds to change the profile of your Bucktail and to create Drag as we've discussed, Pork Rinds will flutter in current where plastic grubs and sythetics won't. Heavier currents cause grub tails and plastics to straighten right out, meanwhile, a pork rind flutters like mad under the same conditions. 

 

From a performance aspect, Buckatils fished with Rinds will outproduce Bucktails fished with all other types of trailers combined. Pork Rinds are impervious to current. 

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5 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

Absolutely a pleasure to share brother! I need to clarify a bit also because the flip side to this discussion is that surf-casters should be highy encouraged to use Pork Rinds and use them often - because they can do amazing things to Bucktails. It's just that, using them blindly and always isn't that smart. Using Pork Rinds is part of the game. 

 

A Bucktail jig can be used in any conditions and is the unquestioned king of the beach because of it's versatility. I wanted to make that satement and back it up, in order to help our community of surf-casters use Bucktails as effectively as possilbe. If anyone here wants to catch more fish and you want to expand your Bucktail game, then this post is for you. 

 

Also, as a former Cabela's manager going back to my days in the tackle industry, there was one area of the store that I loved the most - the Uncle Josh "run" (word used for 4ft sections of shelivng). It was right abou the time they were going out of business, after 93 years of making pork rinds. At one point we had almost a whole Isle dedicated to Pork Rinds and Bucktails. It was pretty cool.

 

Now Uncle Josh is and that is great news. The surf fishing community should be pretty stoked up about this but I fear what has happened is that the surf-fishing community has largely forgotten what Pork Rinds are and lost an understanding of how to use them. Let's put the Upperman style Bucktail aside for a moment and talk about what is most important here.

 

Doing that involves highlighting the style of jig that is hands down, the king of the beach. The Smiling Bill! It is true that the design of the head on any jig is less important than how the hair is tied. As I mentioned earlier, certain heads, shaped more like arrows, allow you to get down quickly and swim a little better in current. Certain heads also feature hook points that are futher back on the jig and are better for vertical jigging applicaitons. But - The SMILING BILL is the mainstay for surf-fishing. 

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This style of Bucktail is hands down the most versitile of all jigs and its always the one I'd recommend above all others to fishermen who are looking to be able to deal with any situation anywhere and still catch fish. When I'm fishing Bucktails, I often use Smiling Bills and just to clarify - I absolutely do use Pork Rinds quite a bit. Let me clarify this whole Pork Rind subject a bit because there's a lot to know here thats not being mentioned. 

 

I do often use Pork Rinds and the decision to use one or not is entirely based on where I'm fishing and what bait is around. Uncle Josh's most popular rind was the #50 which was about 4" to 4 1/2" and before they came out with the Sea Strips, that was probably the go-to rind as a surfcaster could slap that on just about any jig and it would give that bucktail a touch more profile and more action. I wanted to mention that because length and size of the strips you select can give different looks to a jig. The #50 gives a jig extra kick and flutter but because it's small, it's not going to hurt your casting distance and that's really the big reason to use a 4"-ish strip. 

 

On an open beach with a nice drop and waves crashing and maybe stronger wind blowing towards shore, I will often use a 2 oz Bucktail because I need the casting distance and I need to get under the waves. In a situation like that, I'd go with the #50 strip all day and ever day because it won't hurt my distance and yet it will give me lifelike action and perhaps added visibility in the wash. 

 

The #70 Strip is typically the next go-to for most applications where I want a little bit more width and length. The #70 can be used creatively also. For example, let's say we're in some shallower water, maybe a back bay or a salt pond. What I'll do is take a 3/8 oz or 1/2 oz bucktail and put a #70 strip on it. This gives my jig a much bigger profile and lends the added bennefit of drag, so I can work into areas like this and not get hung up. A small jig set up with a large strip is thinking outside the box but it's a very effective way of achieving a larger profile while at the same time, your jig won't get to the bottom very fast and therefore you can work it very slowly and swim it. 

 

Also, Bucktails with lots of hair density aren't better or worse than sparsely tied Bucktails. Each has their place in my bag. Consider this, let's say I'm fishing a Boulder Field with lots of bottom clutter. My goal would be to swim near the bottom but not get hung up. I'll choose a heavily tied Bucktail and I'll probably use a pork rind as well, I want the Bucktail to ride a little higher in the water column and fuller tie is appropriate for times like this. If I want a Pork Rind, I'll usually pick a larger Sea Strip or a #70 in these situations because I may want a bigger profile and I absolutely want a little extra drag, to keep my jig riding above the substrate. 

 

Conversely, let's say I need to reach a sand bar and my primary approach is now to pick a more sparsely tied Bucktail because it will give me better casting distance. I may or may not use a pork rind in situations like that and certainly, if I do want a rind it would be a #50. 

 

I use the 5 1/4" Sea Strips a lot and fortunately still have a nice supply of them. Sea Strips are kind of a specialty size and I use them for times when I want a Pork Rind slighly longer than a #50 and slightly wider, but not as mammoth as a #70. 

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Color on the rinds isn't that important. I like all white and I also like Red, which by the way is only on one side of the strip. Uncle Josh also makes strips in all black and they do a Yellow (with white on the other side) and a Green. By far the best selling Pork Rind Color is the Red so that should be the deciding answer as to which color is best. More surf casters use Red than any other color and it isn't even close. They do this because they want some contrast. It's a well known fact that plugs or baits that feature some contrast are generally very productive. 

 

Now, back to the Upperman. The Upperman was tied very sparsely for a reason. It was meant to be a weapon the beach, the kind of weapon that a surf caster could fish day in and day out.

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Open beaches are often windy and often turbulent. Calm mornings happen often as well. Bait is often on the smaller side and the reason the Upperman was such a cult classic is because a lightly dressed "bean" style jig casts far and it sinks quick. Upen being retrieved, the Upperman jig darts all over the place and there isn't a jig style known to man that will swim as eratically side to side as a sparsely tied Upperman.

 

From a jig head design perspecive, the hook eye resides on the nose of the jig. This is an advantage when trying to swim a jig and it allows a surf-caster to swim the jig side to side and retrieve it in a way that makes the jig look very natural and very much like a swimming baitfish. 

 

The narrow profile of the bean jig allows the Upperman to easily cut through the water and with each slash, the broad side of the bean jig allows water to catch it and push it even more off track. This creates a wider zig zag swimmiing action which ohter jig heads simply can't replicate. 

 

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When I'm tying Upperman jigs I'm mostly looking to imitate smaller baitfish and I know I'll need to cast these smaller jigs as far as possible so when I'm designing them, I keep them fairly sparsely tied. When you consider the application, an Upperman isn't the kind of jig you really want to use a rind with. 

 

It was a known fact on the beach that rinds hindered the effectiveness of Upperman style jigs and to this day, if I'm fishing an Upperman - and I do fish them very often - I don't want a lot of hair and I defintely don't want to use a Pork Rind with them.

 

What I want is the ability to cast far, sink quick and swim erratically. The Upperman jig gives a surf-caster this and you'll connect constatnly with these style bucktails, even when contiditons are difficult and fish get a little finicky. 

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The reason the Upperman fell out of favor was mainly that guys who fish in often turbulent water and heavy current wanted to use Pork Rinds because of the lifelike action they lend and because of some of the other reasons I've mentioned, like increasing drag - which allows them to swim the jigs more slowly. 

 

I can't swim an Upperman too slowly. It has almost no drag so if I slow them down, I'll be bumping bottom. You see, there is always a give and take, a yin and a yang. It's just a fact, Upperman style jigs aren't as versitile as a Smiling Bill style jig. Therein lies the reason why the Uppermans came and went. What you need out of a jig is the ability to be versitile. You need a head design that allows you to pack as much hair onto it it as you can. You need a design that fishes equally well when tied more sparsely. We want to use Pork Rinds and we want to be able to swim naturally, more slowly and be more buoyant in the water column. 

 

For all of these reasons I always recommend the Smiling Bill style jig head as the proper head style for all around fishing. The Upperman is a faster moving, slashing side to side type jig and I'd classify it now as a real specialty type Bucktail, one that isn't for everyone and one that limits what you can do and how you can fish it. 

 

If you fish the Upperman style jig, you'll notice right away that it darts all over the place and that it swims amazingly well. But as we know, there's a whole lot more that goes into selecting and using Bucktails to cover any and all situations. 

 

In my opinion, bucktails and diamond jigs are the best lures for surf fishing hands down.

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My Electric Upperman can also be dressed a bit fuller, these is a 1 oz jig that literally murders fish consistently. The feather kicker is tied fat and proportionate. 

 

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What happens is that when this jig gets in the water it will compress a little bit and because I do not fish these with trailers my casting distance is maximized. At one point in time I experimented with Uncle Josh #50 Pork Rinds and I found the feather kicker to be pretty darn effective, so much so that I just went with it forever more.

 

BTW, the #5O didn't affect the casting distance in the least and I did take a couple hundred Stripers on the Upperman style jigs rigged like that. I have also experimented tying this type of jig even fuller. 

 

Basically what I wanted to do was try to slow it down a bit because when you tie a larger sized Upperman sparsely they just sink like rocks and you have to move them faster. For this reason usually when I tie the larger 1 1/2 oz & up Electric Uppermans, I make sure they are very full ties.

 

I think the goal with any Bucktail is to slow them down a bit if not a lot. The more you can swim the jig near the bottom and not get hung up, the better your chances of hooking up are.

 

Adding more hair to The jig will accomplish slow a bucktail down substantially.

 

One of these days I'll have to do a video on how I tie these because every single aspect of them has been perfected over the last 25 years of tinkering with them. 

 

I have jigs that are more than 10 years old and they've never lost a single hair or fiber. The reason for that is the thread I use and the way I lock the fibers in place.

 

I wanted to retain a shape similar to the original Upperman which is why the hair is not flared dramatically like many Bucktails you see. That said there's still a decent amount of stacking and there's some volume and there is a little bit of spread but I'm not sacrificing the bait fish profile of the originals.

Edited by CaryGreene

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Posted (edited) · Report post

On 9/3/2021 at 8:20 PM, CaryGreene said:

One of these days I'll have to do a video on how I tie these because every single aspect of them has been perfected over the last 25 years of tinkering with them. 

Hi Cary, thanks to this thread I’m thinking of giving some uppermans a shot this season. I’m planning on buying some bare heads from Dan Tinman and tying them myself, with the feather kicker as well like you do. Seeing as I’ve never tied a bucktail before, do you think you could share some of what you’ve learned regarding tying these specific bucktails? Any tips would be much appreciated, and thank you for all the great info you’ve provided in this thread.

Edited by mcnar
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3 hours ago, mcnar said:

Hi Cary, thanks to this thread I’m thinking of giving some uppermans a shot this season. I’m planning on buying some bare heads from Dan Tinman and tying them myself, with the feather kicker as well like you do. Seeing as I’ve never tied a bucktail before, do you think you could share some of what you’ve learned regarding tying these specific bucktails? Any tips would be much appreciated, and thank you for all the great info you’ve provided in this thread.

Hi Mcnar,

 

Sure happy to put out a few basic things that might help when you are constructing the Upperman style of Bucktail. I'll try to make it as fun as possible so everybody pay attention...

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First, it's important to realize that the original Uppermans, as tied by the Upperman brothers, Bill and Maury, were actually tied fairly sparse and they didn't have any flash at all. 

 

The basic idea was/is, with a fisherman who knew how to move the jig and knew what they were doing on the opposite end, this style of Bucktail creates that zippy, darting action that most fish find irresistible. This makes it a deadly weapon.

 

Bill and Maury were the first commercial maker of the Bucktail Jig, which of course became world famous when the U. S. Navy made it standard issue as part of the Navy pilot survival kit during World War II.

 

After extensive testing the Navy selected the Upperman Bucktail because it was by far the best saltwater lure and it could be used anywhere in the world,  whether danced through the water on a hand-held line or tied to a bobbing survival raft and jigged by the waves, the little lure caught fish and saved lives.

 

There's nothing like an original

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 and the Upperman works extremely well when retrieved as a lure. In fact I asked this striper if he thought the Upperman was actually a bait fish but for some reason he didn't answer.

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I've been fly fishing (and surf fishing) for 49 years now, in both freshwater and salt water and one of the Flies that has been deadly is a Deceiver, which of course was invented by Lefty Cray. It's basically the fly fishing equivalent of an Upperman Bucktail. The difference being that it features a a tail made out of rooster saddle hackle which is found on the back of a rooster neck. Combined with the Bucktail fibers and a little bit of flash it became quite a fish catching fly all over the world. Lefty would tie the pattern with a little bit of Crystal Flash which is just a type of twisted readily available flash that you can find in any Fly shop. 

 

Flash of course made its way into the Bucktail world during the seventies and the eighties which was about when I started experimenting with flash and I found that angel hair, which is imparted with UV fibers really helps a subsurface pattern light up when it's fished below the surface. Angel hair worked so well in many of my fly patterns

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 that the thought occurred to me one day when I was staring at my fly tying desk in 19 80 that it was just a natural material to add to a Bucktail jig....hmmmm

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I got to thinking about some of the spots that I fish during a regular shift and how the light conditions change throughout the shift. For survival purposes bait fish have evolved quite nicely in their ability to reflect natural light and thereby blend in with their surroundings and not stand out.

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Of course when they panic and they begin to swim fast they flash like crazy and certainly the predators can see that.

 

It's amazing how light conditions can vary based on the day and the right kinds of lures do a great job of making the best of whatever light is present and that even goes for night time fishing sometimes you have a full moon and there's a lot of light present and other times you have overcast skies and waning moon which makes it much darker. Here's just a couple pictures taken in the last couple of years to show you how light conditions can definitely be much more important than most people realize they are.

 

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What's nice about the angel hair that you can lay it in very sparsely and basically it just adds a tiny bit of reflective shimmer that bounces light very similarly to how fish scales do. There's all different colors of angel hair available... I have about a dozen of these trays loaded with it down in the workshop.

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By far the most valuable angel hair is the type that is Pearl with a little bit of a green hue to it because that's the going to be the color of most of your bait fish scales. There's different types of angel hair available the one pictured blows my favorite it's called ice Wing fiber and of course I'm using the Pearl green hue more often than not when I do a white Bucktail.

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This type of material, angel hair can be used in all sorts of different saltwater applications. I wind up blending a tiny amount of it in with Bucktail fibers when I make flag tails for plugs.

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In fact why stop with plugs? You can dress up all kinds of hooks to create attractive teaser tails that add to a lures effectiveness and help it slither or wiggle or kick. That little bit of UV flash really helps an artificial light up when it's subsurface.

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The jig head that is used in the Upperman Bucktail is referred to as a bean style head and it kind of looks like a lima bean. It's thin and the tie on point is very forward in terms of balance which helps the Bucktail move through the water in a zigzagging motion when manipulated by the rod tip. 

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The hook shanks are fairly short on these types of jigs and they're built with a very slight flare-nub that helps create a little tiny bit of body without creating a drastic flare that looks like a fan tail that you see on a lot of the bottom jigging bucktails. Uppermans are basically lures and they're meant to swim so you don't want them dramatically flared. Basically you want the hairs flowing backwards at about a 30° angle and you want the tail, in this case the feather, to be free of all the Bucktail fibers so that it can add its kick without being surrounded by the Bucktail hair tips. 

 

The tail is actually the first thing that you tie in on an Upperman jig when you are making it then you add a little flash to run with it and then you start building your body.

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The type of thread that you use makes a huge difference you want something strong and also flat so that it locks those Bucktail fibers in place and you can control them perfectly and make them do exactly what you want. If you use a round thread or the wrong thread you will wind up only being able to flare material with very tight wraps. 

 

I always use danville's flat waxed mono because it does such an excellent job of holding the fibers in place and you can wrap very gently on them to start with, moving from your lock-in point to the front of the jig head and then as you wrap backwards you can apply your tension and lock everything in place.

 

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Once you get your first layer of fibers down you're going to want to layer in a little bit of UV material and you want to do it very sparsely. A big mistake people make is they lay in gobs of Flash and it just creates a stupid looking book deal you want it to be very subtle. Try not to overdo it and you'll also save material and not be wasteful which is an added bonus but I think the Bucktail actually works better with just a very sparse amount of Flash in it.

 

Finding saltwater bucktails that have nice long fibers is also a big key to the whole deal. If you hunt and harvest a deer from time to time you want to make sure to always save the tail. Obviously you're going to want to flash freeze it then put it in a dehydrator then put it in a plastic bag and shake some Borax in with it and get it nice and coated and it'll last indefinitely until you go to use it. Failure to take care of a pelt or a clump of fur or a Bucktail or even feathers results in carpet worm infestations. Even after I do all the treating that I've just described I'll put some outdoor mothballs in the storage container that I'm using to keep the materials in and every now and then I'll throw a few fresh ones in because those suckers will kill them off on contact.

 

If you don't hunt but you know someone who does hunt then you always want to make sure that you ask them for the bucktails cuz you'll probably get them for free. Bucktails can actually be bleached and then died fluorescent white which is kind of a way to really make them suitable for saltwater. 

 

Or call me you could just go buy a few but they are very expensive. Look for nice long fibers that have a little bit of wave to them but they're not too kinky. What you don't want is perfectly straight fibers and you don't want fibers that are too short because you'll only be able to make small bucktails. Commercially these are known as saltwater grade bucktails. I would 100% recommend picking these out in person opposed to just ordering them from somewhere.

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Once you lay in a little bit of flash then you come back over it and lay in another amount of Bucktail and then you lay in a little tiny bit of flash on top to finish it off. Using a rotary vise can definitely help work on a jig from all different angles so I highly recommend a rotary fly tying vise. If you can find a true 360 vice that's even better and you want something that can handle big saltwater hooks. Dynaking makes a very good saltwater type vice. I've been tying flies a long time and I'm partial to a Norvise, which is rather pricey.

 

Lastly you need a drying wheel that can spin for a long time. Look for a lure building wheel that heavy hooks can clamp into and it will still spin easily without having problems. Then you want to just hit the thread wraps with a little bit of epoxy, and go ahead and let the jig spin for as long as is needed. Basic epoxy can be warmed up with an epoxy warmer and the advantage to doing this is that you wind up with a very water like thin substance to work with instead of one that's too goopy. All it takes is one little thin coat and you're good to go. Standard 30 minute epoxy is one of my all-time favorites the only drawback is that it will yellow over time and exposure to UV light.

 

30 minute epoxies are two part systems you'll have a resin and a hardener and you just mix them in equal parts and then apply them. Popsicle sticks work really well to slap the epoxy on and then manipulate it once it's on as you spin the fly in your vise and once you get a nice thin coat in place then you take the fly out of the vice and put on the rotating drying wheel for a half hour or so. By far my personal favorite basic 30 minute epoxy is of course Bob Smith industries. I should probably be a spokesperson for them but I really do like the results I get with this epoxy.

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Yellowing really isn't a big problem if you're only tying a few jigs at a time but if you plan on tying massive quantities of jigs and keeping them for years then yes it will become a problem and you'll have to go to a non yellowing type of epoxy. I tried to mass produce these things because I kind of build lures in steps so I'll pour a hundred jig heads one day, then I'll come back and tie a hundred jigs all at once and I'm lucky if I wind up with five of them because my friends attack them before I can get them in my plug bag. By Far and away the very best and strongest non yellowing epoxy that I have ever found is amazing clear cast plus and if you're building plugs or lures or anything like that and you want to coat them this would be the very best clear coat you could put on any lure. What's nice about it is that it stays wet for at least an hour and a half to two hours as it spins but it's slightly gets tacky at about the hour and a half to two hour mark and then you can come in and lay in another coat if you want to and then come back and do another coat and you do this all before the material dries and sets up. The advantage to doing this is that the chemical bonding properties are such that the coats build and lock into one another as you lay them in. This is how you get an amazing clear coat on a plug but you can do the same thing on baller bucktails and if you have a whole bunch of bucktails spinning it makes sense to come in and just touch them and give them one or two coats on top of the original coat. This material is extremely thin and watery when mixed and it will stay in the mixing cup for at least 45 minutes so as you work you have plenty of time before the material starts to get slightly tacky.

 

Most people probably shouldn't mess with this stuff because if you don't have a drying wheel then keep in mind you need 3 to 5 hours rotating the Bucktail which is for many not possible. This is why I recommended the standard 30 minute epoxy above as kind of the best place to start. 

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You can work an Upperman in broad daylight along the edges of where current meets black water.

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You can also just cast it out into the wash and treat it like any other minnow imitation. One thing is certain, they absolutely do work very well. Should you bother adding the flash like I do? I would recommend doing it. I started the post off with some discussion about why Deceivers work so well and when I started dressing them in my electric style the catch rates just went up tremendously. The flag tails also really add to a plug and it's definitely important to only put a tiny bit of Flash an.a flag tail I think - same as when you're building a bucktail. Mainly you're just looking to bounce a tiny amount of light.

 

One of these days someone will force me to make these things on video but I hope this post gets you going in the right direction and you can always ask questions as you go along. You want to learn the soft loop method for holding a clump of bucktails in position and then using the thread in such a way that you can pinch it make a gentle wrap around the shank and then pull ever so gently as you repeat and that's how you first get the bucktails into the right position. The thread will help immensely with this and you don't want a ton of tension. Then you just want to wind forward gently and then wind back with a little more pressure that's really the key to locking the Bucktail fibers in place. If you use the flat wax mono like I recommend it'll grab those Bucktail fibers and they won't go anywhere.

 

I've seen a lot of chitter chatter out there about how people use Kevlar thread when they make bucktails, trust me with the method I'm advising you use you will never you lose a single hair from your bucktails, not ever. If you make them the way I do they will be 100% bulletproof.

PXL_20211021_120355186.jpg

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On 9/1/2021 at 11:35 PM, CaryGreene said:

I would disagree with this assessment, said with vast respect for redfin & his field of experience. The reason I disagree is that back when I fished Montauk in the early seventies, Upperman style bucktails ruled the beach with a lead fist.

 

The whole goal was to make the bean jig swim side to side. A trailer inhibited that action and decreased the number of keepers you could catch in a week dramatically.

 

PXL_20210623_190947333.jpg.306bfde50271584ee68e380ebb9e7c0d.jpg

 

So forth and hence with, I pour my own flat sided bean jigs & tie them designed to be fished with no trailer. The goal is to get the bean down near the bottom quickly and zigzag it all the way home. This produces fish day in and day out coming year in and year out, hand over fist. I've tried all sorts of other bucktails with pork rinds and believe me I love Uncle Josh, but kids ...but nothing.beats an Upperman!

 

An Electric Upperman can also easily be fished in the top part of the water column and in heavy current. No style of jig head will swim side to side better than the flat sided bean.

 

 

(...and yes, I modify them and create what is called an Electric Upperman and you will notice there is a feather kicker. The advantage to the feather here is natural wiggle without any drag and this doesn't prevent you or hinder you from getting down quickly.)

GREAT post Mr. Greene!!

 

Out of all your content here on SOL, I could not agree with you more on this single post alone!  :clap:

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On 8/31/2021 at 2:09 AM, pennfishing82 said:

Are bucktails still effective without a trailer, or will a trailer make a big difference? If so, what type of trailer? Pork rind, gulp, fat cow, zoom??

kinda useless without some kinda trailer - pork rind or rubber curly tail.

 

unless the bucktail is tied with a lot of krystal flash etc

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On 9/2/2021 at 11:41 AM, CaryGreene said:

Absolutely a pleasure to share brother! I need to clarify a bit also because the flip side to this discussion is that surf-casters should be highy encouraged to use Pork Rinds and use them often - because they can do amazing things to Bucktails. It's just that, using them blindly and always isn't that smart. Using Pork Rinds is part of the game. 

 

A Bucktail jig can be used in any conditions and is the unquestioned king of the beach because of it's versatility. I wanted to make that satement and back it up, in order to help our community of surf-casters use Bucktails as effectively as possilbe. If anyone here wants to catch more fish and you want to expand your Bucktail game, then this post is for you. 

 

Also, as a former Cabela's manager going back to my days in the tackle industry, there was one area of the store that I loved the most - the Uncle Josh "run" (word used for 4ft sections of shelivng). It was right abou the time they were going out of business, after 93 years of making pork rinds. At one point we had almost a whole Isle dedicated to Pork Rinds and Bucktails. It was pretty cool.

 

Now Uncle Josh is and that is great news. The surf fishing community should be pretty stoked up about this but I fear what has happened is that the surf-fishing community has largely forgotten what Pork Rinds are and lost an understanding of how to use them. Let's put the Upperman style Bucktail aside for a moment and talk about what is most important here.

 

Doing that involves highlighting the style of jig that is hands down, the king of the beach. The Smiling Bill! It is true that the design of the head on any jig is less important than how the hair is tied. As I mentioned earlier, certain heads, shaped more like arrows, allow you to get down quickly and swim a little better in current. Certain heads also feature hook points that are futher back on the jig and are better for vertical jigging applicaitons. But - The SMILING BILL is the mainstay for surf-fishing. 

6130e06993ebe_Screenshot2021-09-0210_31_46AM.png.e3b1a11854a53978a54c88b3186f95e7.png

This style of Bucktail is hands down the most versitile of all jigs and its always the one I'd recommend above all others to fishermen who are looking to be able to deal with any situation anywhere and still catch fish. When I'm fishing Bucktails, I often use Smiling Bills and just to clarify - I absolutely do use Pork Rinds quite a bit. Let me clarify this whole Pork Rind subject a bit because there's a lot to know here thats not being mentioned. 

 

I do often use Pork Rinds and the decision to use one or not is entirely based on where I'm fishing and what bait is around. Uncle Josh's most popular rind was the #50 which was about 4" to 4 1/2" and before they came out with the Sea Strips, that was probably the go-to rind as a surfcaster could slap that on just about any jig and it would give that bucktail a touch more profile and more action. I wanted to mention that because length and size of the strips you select can give different looks to a jig. The #50 gives a jig extra kick and flutter but because it's small, it's not going to hurt your casting distance and that's really the big reason to use a 4"-ish strip. 

 

On an open beach with a nice drop and waves crashing and maybe stronger wind blowing towards shore, I will often use a 2 oz Bucktail because I need the casting distance and I need to get under the waves. In a situation like that, I'd go with the #50 strip all day and ever day because it won't hurt my distance and yet it will give me lifelike action and perhaps added visibility in the wash. 

 

The #70 Strip is typically the next go-to for most applications where I want a little bit more width and length. The #70 can be used creatively also. For example, let's say we're in some shallower water, maybe a back bay or a salt pond. What I'll do is take a 3/8 oz or 1/2 oz bucktail and put a #70 strip on it. This gives my jig a much bigger profile and lends the added bennefit of drag, so I can work into areas like this and not get hung up. A small jig set up with a large strip is thinking outside the box but it's a very effective way of achieving a larger profile while at the same time, your jig won't get to the bottom very fast and therefore you can work it very slowly and swim it. 

 

Also, Bucktails with lots of hair density aren't better or worse than sparsely tied Bucktails. Each has their place in my bag. Consider this, let's say I'm fishing a Boulder Field with lots of bottom clutter. My goal would be to swim near the bottom but not get hung up. I'll choose a heavily tied Bucktail and I'll probably use a pork rind as well, I want the Bucktail to ride a little higher in the water column and fuller tie is appropriate for times like this. If I want a Pork Rind, I'll usually pick a larger Sea Strip or a #70 in these situations because I may want a bigger profile and I absolutely want a little extra drag, to keep my jig riding above the substrate. 

 

Conversely, let's say I need to reach a sand bar and my primary approach is now to pick a more sparsely tied Bucktail because it will give me better casting distance. I may or may not use a pork rind in situations like that and certainly, if I do want a rind it would be a #50. 

 

I use the 5 1/4" Sea Strips a lot and fortunately still have a nice supply of them. Sea Strips are kind of a specialty size and I use them for times when I want a Pork Rind slighly longer than a #50 and slightly wider, but not as mammoth as a #70. 

6130d86638438_Screenshot2021-09-029_57_38AM.png.521ab4f3bfad2066ac96c89e6183b37d.png

 

Color on the rinds isn't that important. I like all white and I also like Red, which by the way is only on one side of the strip. Uncle Josh also makes strips in all black and they do a Yellow (with white on the other side) and a Green. By far the best selling Pork Rind Color is the Red so that should be the deciding answer as to which color is best. More surf casters use Red than any other color and it isn't even close. They do this because they want some contrast. It's a well known fact that plugs or baits that feature some contrast are generally very productive. 

 

Now, back to the Upperman. The Upperman was tied very sparsely for a reason. It was meant to be a weapon the beach, the kind of weapon that a surf caster could fish day in and day out.

6130e6a69cebf_Screenshot2021-09-0210_55_51AM.png.07665057a8c54f24ec992653ff85dd50.png

Open beaches are often windy and often turbulent. Calm mornings happen often as well. Bait is often on the smaller side and the reason the Upperman was such a cult classic is because a lightly dressed "bean" style jig casts far and it sinks quick. Upen being retrieved, the Upperman jig darts all over the place and there isn't a jig style known to man that will swim as eratically side to side as a sparsely tied Upperman.

 

From a jig head design perspecive, the hook eye resides on the nose of the jig. This is an advantage when trying to swim a jig and it allows a surf-caster to swim the jig side to side and retrieve it in a way that makes the jig look very natural and very much like a swimming baitfish. 

 

The narrow profile of the bean jig allows the Upperman to easily cut through the water and with each slash, the broad side of the bean jig allows water to catch it and push it even more off track. This creates a wider zig zag swimmiing action which ohter jig heads simply can't replicate. 

 

6130e6a3d9679_Screenshot2021-09-0210_56_47AM.png.490480d01a4e47b8efc6d2919a02c354.png6130e69fe8f1b_Screenshot2021-09-0210_57_30AM.png.6324a01dc2f0f095e5dfa7f63a27d57c.png

When I'm tying Upperman jigs I'm mostly looking to imitate smaller baitfish and I know I'll need to cast these smaller jigs as far as possible so when I'm designing them, I keep them fairly sparsely tied. When you consider the application, an Upperman isn't the kind of jig you really want to use a rind with. 

 

It was a known fact on the beach that rinds hindered the effectiveness of Upperman style jigs and to this day, if I'm fishing an Upperman - and I do fish them very often - I don't want a lot of hair and I defintely don't want to use a Pork Rind with them.

 

What I want is the ability to cast far, sink quick and swim erratically. The Upperman jig gives a surf-caster this and you'll connect constatnly with these style bucktails, even when contiditons are difficult and fish get a little finicky. 

6130e69cd986f_Screenshot2021-09-0210_58_05AM.png.be6ea546af0c0b0acedb8210b4be456e.png

The reason the Upperman fell out of favor was mainly that guys who fish in often turbulent water and heavy current wanted to use Pork Rinds because of the lifelike action they lend and because of some of the other reasons I've mentioned, like increasing drag - which allows them to swim the jigs more slowly. 

 

I can't swim an Upperman too slowly. It has almost no drag so if I slow them down, I'll be bumping bottom. You see, there is always a give and take, a yin and a yang. It's just a fact, Upperman style jigs aren't as versitile as a Smiling Bill style jig. Therein lies the reason why the Uppermans came and went. What you need out of a jig is the ability to be versitile. You need a head design that allows you to pack as much hair onto it it as you can. You need a design that fishes equally well when tied more sparsely. We want to use Pork Rinds and we want to be able to swim naturally, more slowly and be more buoyant in the water column. 

 

For all of these reasons I always recommend the Smiling Bill style jig head as the proper head style for all around fishing. The Upperman is a faster moving, slashing side to side type jig and I'd classify it now as a real specialty type Bucktail, one that isn't for everyone and one that limits what you can do and how you can fish it. 

 

If you fish the Upperman style jig, you'll notice right away that it darts all over the place and that it swims amazingly well. But as we know, there's a whole lot more that goes into selecting and using Bucktails to cover any and all situations. 

 

Cary

 

Enjoyed your post. Not new to bucktails, but have not seen the Upperman

 

Figured I would give the Upperman style jigs a try, I did a search and only found pretied jigs on the bay. Do you have a source where you can just buy the heads?

 

Thanks

Lou

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8 hours ago, Lou T said:

Cary

 

Enjoyed your post. Not new to bucktails, but have not seen the Upperman

 

Figured I would give the Upperman style jigs a try, I did a search and only found pretied jigs on the bay. Do you have a source where you can just buy the heads?

 

Thanks

Lou

My pleasure Bill, try 1/2 oz, 3/4oz, 1 oz and 1 1/2 oz and 2 oz as the go-to sizes. 

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On 9/2/2021 at 10:45 AM, Mr. Bigdeal said:

Nice Find Bigs........but the "Upperman"/Bean type bucktail needs a sparse dose of hair.  This will enable it to do what it's supposed to do with respect to the zig/zag retrieve.  that is why many do not use a trailer - it will inhibit it's action.  Although, over the years i have found that very thin worms, like the 4" Power Bait Power Worm (below) or Mr. Twister's Phenom worm work superbly with phenomenal action.   :th:

 

Berkley Powerbait Power Worms Soft Bait 4 Inch Pumpkinseed 15/Bag PBBPW4-PS  28632650356 | eBay

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9 hours ago, yogiiiboy said:

Nice Find Bigs........but the "Upperman"/Bean type bucktail needs a sparse dose of hair.  This will enable it to do what it's supposed to do with respect to the zig/zag retrieve.  that is why many do not use a trailer - it will inhibit it's action.  Although, over the years i have found that very thin worms, like the 4" Power Bait Power Worm (below) or Mr. Twister's Phenom worm work superbly with phenomenal action.   :th:

 

Berkley Powerbait Power Worms Soft Bait 4 Inch Pumpkinseed 15/Bag PBBPW4-PS  28632650356 | eBay

Thanks for this Yogi.  

I tried to tie these jigs over the winter and it ended up in pain and frustration.  I realized that my fine dexterity is pretty shot.  

So I boxed up all my supplies before they ended up in the firepit. :violin:

 

I can pour the jigs no problem and have a box full of worms to try out.  

My heads are on the small side (1/4-1/2 1/0&2/0 hook) so I'm thinking of a 2in GULP worm would work. Give it that darting appeal and add some smell to the whole shebang.  

 

We shall see.....

Edited by PSegnatelli

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