How Well Do You Know Bucktail Jigs?

Day or night, spring or fall, New Jersey or Maine—if you don’t have an assortment of bucktail jigs in your surf bag, you are not catching as many fish as you could be. The bucktail jig’s pulsing hair combined with a fluttering trailer looks as alive as any hard-bodied plug or soft-plastic bait. A straight retrieve is all that’s needed to bring the lure to life, but snapping the rod tip or pausing the retrieve will trigger strikes from following fish.

You can control where a bucktail jig swims in the water column by adjusting the speed of your retrieve, keeping it above a weedy bottom, or dropping it behind a submerged boulder or into a trough where big stripers lie in wait. In terms of versatility, the bucktail is the ultimate striper lure. It can be fished near the surface or on the bottom, jigged vertically, or retrieved like a plug. It can be tied sparse to imitate a thin-profiled sand eel or with extra hair and feathers to mimic an adult bunker. From open beaches to backwaters, quiet bays to ripping inlets, there’s always a situation that calls for a bucktail.

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Andrus Jetty Caster

This classic jig is tied with extra-dense bucktail hair to slow its sink rate and keep it above the rocks in shallow water. It first gained popularity at Montauk Point, but is productive on open beaches, around boulder fields, and in back bays. Available in sizes from ½ to 3 ounces.

Andrus Rip Splitter

Tied with a thinner profile than the Jetty Caster, the Rip Splitter is designed to get a little deeper in waters with strong currents. It is deadly in inlets and along shorelines with deep, fast-moving water. Available in sizes from ½ to 4 ounces.

SPRO Power Bucktail

SPRO gave their classic Prime Bucktail a surfcasting-specific makeover to create the SPRO Power Bucktail. This jig features a heavy-duty hook that will hold its shape against anything that swims in the surf. The jig also has extra bucktail hair and a forward-positioned line-tie to improve its swimming action and easily glide over rocky bottoms where big stripers lie in wait. Available in four sizes (1, 1½, 2, and 3 ounces) and two colors (white and chartreuse).

Jeck’s Bucktails

These beautifully made bucktails became available for sale in February 2015. Jeck used a decade of experience fishing the Cape Cod Canal to craft a jig that could stand up to the rocks, currents, and large bass found in the Big Ditch. They are tied on Mustad hooks with tails built up in thin layers to improve durability. In the water, they give the impression of large baitfish, making them perfect for tempting big bass throughout the Northeast surf. Large eyes, unique colors, and a combination of premium bucktail hair and hackle feathers give the Jeck’s Bucktails a lifelike appearance. Available in sizes from ½ to 5 ounces.

S&S Rockhopper Pro

Available in a large variety of colors including favorites like chicken scratch, sand eel, and blurple, Rockhopper Pro bucktails give fishermen plenty of options for jigs that “match the hatch” or stand out in the surf. Tied with extra hair to slow the sink rate, the Rockhopper Pro also has a hackle trailer that adds a tantalizing fluttering action to the jig.

Trailers for Bucktail Jigs

While strictly optional, many fishermen wouldn’t think of fishing a bucktail without a trailer. Trailers add action, color, and sometimes scent to a bucktail presentation. Options vary, depending on the target species, the location, and the baitfish present. For fluke, fishermen use trailers to add scent from synthetic baits like Berkley Gulp, cut baits such as strips of squid or fish, or whole baits like sand eels, spearing or live minnows. Striper fishermen use trailers to add action, color, and extra length to their presentations. Options include hackle feathers tied into the jig, soft-plastic baits, synthetic trailers, and natural pork rind trailers.

A little more than seven years ago, 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. But, there is a silver lining. Today, Uncle Josh products are back on shelves with a redesigned synthetic formula for their jig trailers.

Fat Cow Jig Strips

Fat Cow Jig Strips are a new generation of fishing baits made from a durable synthetic material that will never dry out.

Berkley Gulp

Berkley Gulp baits are available in a variety of styles. These heavily-scented soft baits are a great addition to any bucktail jig.

Captain Bruce’s Ottertails

Ottertails are scented synthetic trailers available in 9 sizes and 11 colors. Otter Tail trailers share many of the features of pork rind trailers, such as durability and fluttering action, but they don’t dry out or rot if left on the hook. Otter Tails are available in three sizes and six colors.

Uncle Josh Sea Rind Trailers

Uncle Josh formerly made jig trailers from pork rinds, which are extremely durable. They went out of business years ago, but surfcasters can rejoice, as they have been re-engineered and are available once again.


Some bucktails are tied with hackle feathers that function like trailers, extending beyond the bucktail’s hair and undulating in the water. The hackle doesn’t significantly slow the sink rate of the jig, making it a good choice for fishing deep, fast-moving water.

Comparing Bucktail Jig Trailers

Making the choice for your trailer can be challenging, and knowing what they look like underwater can be a big help.

Watch this video to observe the differences in action from different trailers.

Related Content

Article: Bucktails in Boulder Fields for Stripers

Article: The Versatile Bucktail Jig

6 on “How Well Do You Know Bucktail Jigs?

  1. Martin

    Only about 150 days until I can get back on the water in beautiful Maine and throw some jigs out in Casco Bay. Good article on jigs, looking forward to reading more. Martin in Freeport (Ex of NJ)

    1. robert mierzwinski

      Martin.. i am also on the count down of days til… i usually get out late April in Rhode Island…. every day is one day closed

  2. JT

    “Slow to moderate retrieve near the bottom” easier said than done for an inexperienced surf caster like myself I carry every buck tail in my bag but always reluctant to use them, I guess more practice and confidence will get me to ever land a striper on a buck tail.

    1. Doug

      Like me I had to gain experience- a good place to start is the beach , where it won’t get caught up. Also get a copy of John Skinners book “Fishing the Bucktail its invaluable. Good luck.

  3. TonyF

    I do a lot of fishing from the sand and I usually prefer a forward balanced bucktail (eye towards front). I feel it gives a better presentation than those with the eye on the top.

  4. Butch Peery

    I’ve been looking for the old school bean head buck tail jig . White head red eyes with white hair . The ones I use are 1/2 ounce. If you know where I can get them could you let me know . I would appreciate it very much .
    Thank you

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