I love bucktailing and was a huge fan of the Uncle Josh products. I’ve been hoarding the ones I still have since the company announced they would no longer be producing pork products in 2015.
In the years that followed, I’ve been looking for something besides synthetic strips. While it was nice to be able to leave the soft-plastic trailers on the hook between trips, they lacked the natural action of a pork rind trailer. Most of the time, natural materials have better action, and they have the added benefit of being biodegradable.
When I got into fly fishing, I noticed fishermen using chamois in their flies. Chamois is a soft, pliable “leather” made from goat skin that’s used for cleaning windows and cars. Natural chamois is often too thin for dressing bucktails and does not come in any colors, but when I was looking around at a local automotive store, I noticed artificial chamois. It had the thickness and feel of pork strips and came in a wide range of colors, so I bought some to fish during the 2017 fall run. I used it side by side with my remaining pork rinds and the striped bass didn’t seem to care.
Chamois is made to absorb water, and when it does, it gains the attributes of pork strips—the buoyancy and movement—that made them such effective trailers. Because most of the mass of chamois is water, it has a more fluid, natural action. And, because artificial chamois is designed for drying cars, it is a strong material. It also seems to have mesh reinforcement at its core.
The chamois I bought—called “The Absorber”—came in a 27- by 17-inch sheet and cost about $11. I made 170 5¼- by ½-inch strips out of the sheet, which works out to about 6.5 cents per trailer. In other words, you could make a lifetime’s supply of trailers for what a single jar of seven Uncle Josh trailers used to cost.
I have been using chamois trailers exclusively for a season and a half, and there is no doubt in my mind that they work as well as pork. Give them a try!
Artificial chamois is available in many bright colors. I primarily use red, but have also bought natural and aqua. Each sheet comes in a container packaged with some light moisture that makes the material easier to work with. When it dries out, it becomes rigid, making it necessary to wet it before cutting, which can be messy. So, keep it in the container.
- I measure out the 5¼- by ½-inch strips (of course, you can make them any size you like) and use a utility knife on a board that I can cut into.
- I begin by cutting out a 5¼- by 5-inch rectangle and place the rest of the sheet back in the container. Next, I cut out the half-inch strips. When I taper the strips, I draw the knife to the tip of the tail. Keep the straight edge on the mass of the strip so that it doesn’t move around.
- I tried making each strip with a pre-made hook hole and even tried dipping the end in glue to make it more rigid, but in the end, the best method was simply to attach the strip to the jig and leave it on.
- There’s no need to remove the trailer at the end of the trip – it will last for many expeditions without reinforcement.