PORK VS. PLASTIC
For years, there was really no alternative for anglers who liked to
fish a jig for bass. They either fished it bare, or tipped it with a pork chunk.
That made Uncle Josh almost a household world in the bass-fishing
community, because so many fishermen owned jars and jars of the fatback/porkrind. Used
even more was the term "jig n' pig" to denote a rubber-skirted jig fished with
an Uncle Josh pork frog.
But in the mid-1990s, companies that made plastic worms, lizards and
crawfish saw a niche in the fishing market. Could they make a chunk of plastic that
resembled an old, original pork-frog chunk, and would bass bite it the way they do pork?
They made the chunks, and apparently, bass like them, because a lot
of companies that make plastic worms now have a plastic chunk among their line
What do guides and professional fishermen think about the "Pork vs.
Plastic" debate? Most admit that plastic chunks will do everything a pork chunk will
under most circumstances, without the fuss and mess of dealing with slimy pork chunks,
the jars and lids that never seem to want to come off.
Maynard Edwards of Lexington, who guides on the Yadkin River chain
lakes (High Rock, Tuckertown and Badin) said that he hardly ever uses pork
anymore, even though he uses jigs almost year-round.
"The majority of time, I go with plastic," he said. "One reason is
for the sake of convenience. But the plastics they've got now, you can get almost any
action out of them. You can make a jig do almost anything with plastic you can do with
pork. That wasn't always true, but I think the plastics have caught up. They're equal
or better than pork."
Edwards said the only time he uses pork now is when the bite is
extremely slow. "Everybody says to use pork in the winter, but a couple of years ago, I was
fishing and I caught three more bass out of the back of a friend's boat who was using
pork when I was using plastic, so that made up my mind."
But there remains a loyal following for pork chunks, fishermen who
say that at least for part of the year, there's no beating a big piece of meat on the
end of your jig. David Pye of Forest City, who guides on Lake Lure, is a firm believer that
pork will outperform plastic in cold water -- especially for big fish.
Pye fishes a jig a lot on Lake Lure. Much of the time, when the water
is relatively warm, he tips it not with a plastic chunk, but with a plastic crawworm.
When he isn't using a crawworm, however, he's got an Uncle Josh No. 1 jumbo pork frog on
his jig, and he's never had it failed.
"When it's cold, use pork," Pye said. "You can count on it, at least
in Lake Lure. There will be days in March when the temperature never gets above 30
degrees, and I'll be catching fish on a jig with a pork chunk."
Pye believes that a pork chunk is more buoyant than plastic, that it
makes a jig fall much slower and keeps the bait in front of a lethargic bass much
longer. And in cold weather, he almost always uses a 3/4- or 1-ounce jig. Combined with a big
pork chunk, that makes for a huge meal, even for a lunker bass.
"Somedays they just want a bit bait, and that pork chunk gives it a
lot of bulk you can't get with plastic," Pye said. "And I think the pork helps slow down
Pye fishes his big jig n' pig very slowly, and how he works it is
much different. "I fish my jig n' pig with my rod held out to the side. I want that jig to
stay in contact with the bottom longer, so instead of raising the rod tip and pulling it off the
bottom, I sweep my rod tip to the side, and the jig just crawls along the bottom. The
water's usually so cold that the fish aren't real active anyway, they're right on the bottom,
and they don't have to move to get it."
One thing Pye has learned from tipping jigs with a pork chunk is that
any plastic trailer needs to be salt impregnated to even perform close to pork. He
won't use any plastic crawworm as a trailer unless it's salt impregnated. "They just
won't bite it as good," he said.
Bass pro Mac McCormick of Huntersville also believes that pork gives
a jig just the right kind of buoyancy and swimming action. He thinks pork chunks have
a natural, built-in action that plastic can't imitate. "It swims better than a plastic
chunk; it has more action and it floats better," said McCormick, who won't be caught without a
few jars in his boat.