Pork Rind Replacements

It’s been nearly two years since Uncle Josh Bait Company announced that they would no longer be offering fishing lures made from pork products. This ended a 93-year run of producing pork rind lures that began with Allen P. Jones and Urban Schreiner carving “frogs” out of fatback during a summer when the actual amphibians were tough to come by. The official reason was that pigs today are being brought to slaughter at a younger age, and the fatback and skin that Uncle Josh required was too thin to make durable fishing lures.

Pork rind was (and is) in my opinion, without equal as a bucktail jig trailer. The fluttering action of the natural material can’t be matched by even the most supple soft plastic, but as we enter the second half of the 2017 surfcasting season, my supply of stockpiled pork rinds has reached a perilous low. In May, I found a forgotten rind dried and shriveled on a bucktail jig hook and wept for an hour. I’m exaggerating, of course. I only cried for 45 minutes.

Durability was always the downside of the pork trailers. Forget to return one to the jar after a fishing trip and you’d find it turned to leather the following day. I’ve been experimenting with reanimating these shriveled rinds with limited success, but even after an extensive soak in brine or fresh water, most are simply too far gone.

With my jars of remaining pork rinds countable on one hand, this spring I got serious about finding replacement trailers.

The first thing I considered was raising a pig and making my own trailers. This might work financially if I find a non-fishing friend to split the costs with me in exchange for however much organic bacon and pork chops you can carve out of a two-year-old hog. Still, this sounds like a time-consuming and messy process, but I haven’t taken it off the table just yet.

The most realistic option, of course, is to settle on synthetic trailers, and the good news is that a few companies have produced suitable alternatives to pork rinds.

Otter Tail Striped Bass

Another big striper falls to an Otter Tail and Otter Tube combination.

Otter Tails have been around for several years now. Captain Bruce Millar designed them as an alternative to seaworms when trolling tube-and-worm rigs. The original trailer was cut in a C shape that flaps through the water like the curly tail on a soft-plastic grub. It is made of a soft-plastic-coated mesh that holds the hook well and resists bite-offs from bluefish. The added benefit of the mesh is that it absorbs scents such as bunker oil or the Otter Tails Otter Combo Scent.

Otter Tails

Surfcasters quickly caught on to Otter Tails, and had good luck with them. Nonetheless, the original, C-shaped Otter Tail differs greatly from a pork rind trailer. It doesn’t slow the sink rate as much, and the action is much more pronounced, a constant vibrating as opposed to the subtle flick and undulation of a straight pork trailer. Still, they work well and catch fish, and I’ve been packing them along with my last remaining pork rinds. More recently, Otter Tails came out with straight- and fork-tail trailers in multiple lengths and widths that look promising as pork rind alternatives.

The Fat Cow Fishing Jig Strips have potential as well. These trailers borrow the classic pork rind shapes of the discontinued Uncle Josh products, and make them out of a flexible, durable material. They closely match the flutter of a pork rind, slow the fall of a bucktail jig and, like Otter Tails, won’t dry out. I first used them while bucktailing some surprisingly picky spring bluefish back in May, and the first trailer held up to multiple fish before a short-striking blue sliced it in half. The other casters who were using soft-plastic grubs were replacing their trailers after every fish. Another thing I like about Fat Cow Jig Strips is that they come in the same jars as pork rinds, ensuring that the pork rind holder on my plug bag won’t be “just for show” after my last Uncle Josh trailer gives up the ghost.

Fat Cow jig strips

Since using these alternatives, I’ve felt much better about my impending pork-free plug bag. The improved durability and wider range of colors more than make up for the slight difference in action between the synthetic trailers and natural pork rinds. After a month of using the Jig Strips and Otter Tails regularly, I have enough confidence in them to squirrel away my remaining Uncle Josh jars for special occasions, new moons, and Nor’easters.

  1. Mike

    Thanks for the research on finding
    pork rind substitute.
    Say, how about trimming bacon srtips
    for the rind…

  2. Mike Idell

    i tried a sro bucktail tipped with plain old regular BACON and caught flounder .give it a try.

  3. John Sigona

    Have been using Otter Tails on my trolling lures they work great and do not dry out wen left on

  4. John S

    I’m a big advocate for those Fat Cow strips since they’ve come out. Unmatched durability and action. Love that the jar fits in my pork holder. The colors are on point. Miss uncle josh but haven’t looked back since I discovered Fat cow

  5. Dan Pepitone

    I went on the fat cow website and grabbed up some of their new eel tails. These things are sick. Larger profile and insane action. Even though they only come 3 in a jar, I feel like they will last through the rest of the season as long as i don’t get hung up. But that’s fishing. I use them for sweeping 3-5oz bucktails through LI south shore inlets. Went fishing 4 nights and used the same strip caught at least 20 stripers. When the hook hole gets messed up from switching bucktails, I’ve been able to trim it down and its just like new again.

  6. Matt

    I love the fat cow strips…these are the best pork rind replacement. These last me all year and most are on a second or third year. I’ve personally landed fish to 38 lbs on these and I’ve seen them outperform curly tails when the fish get picky…fat cow strips are on all my bucktails..great product!

  7. Travis hackal

    Been fishing these jig strips for the past two years i fish the rocks not off a boat these things flutter way better then any pork ive ever fished have had more fish over 30 pounds then i can even remember in the past two seasons some pushing 40s all i really do is bucktail these things do the trick and don’t kill your cast when fishing bigger strips get em at Whitewater outfitters plus they hold up to those gator blues very well this is a solid product awesome job guys 🤘

  8. Logan

    I have been fishing fat cow since they came out there my go to, 90 percent of my fishing is bucktailing for stripers … there the best hands down the durability is great and easy to use! There a bunch of great guys who appreciate feed back

  9. Angelo

    the benefits of having the fat cow bait strips that don’t dry out is a huge plus in my opinion. I’m a big surf guy and keep every bucktail tipped with a fat cow jig strip and ready to go. I never have to take them off. I’ve tried the otter tails too but the fat cow lasted me longer. I wish Dick’s sporting goods carried the fat cow trailers, I have to order them on the internet.

  10. Dave holmquist

    My brother, you may be one of the few who can relish in my joy, lol I found a guy who bought out a mom n pop tackle store in Wisconsin. In the store room was literally dozens n dozens of NOS uncle josh pork. I was only interested in the largemouth/Smallmouth Pork craws Jumbo & Big Daddy so I cant say what other models he has but I bought every single jar he had in the colors n models I lust over. If you’d like his email address send me an email and I’ll pass it along. Btw I just received my box of pork today and found your article because 4 jars had been opened and not properly tightened (he didn’t charge me for those) and the jars had just a squirt of brine left in it. So the Pork isn’t totally dried out and I’m trying to salvage them. Wife brought glycerin home (heard that helps) and I’m familiar with gently pounding the leather with a meat tenderizer. Looking for more tricks. Stuff is like gold to me, haha.

    Email if you’d like to reach out to him


    • Derek

      I would be interested in finding out if he had any no 11 or jumbo pork frogs.


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