Brush Hogs by Ben Team
As much as I try to be mindful that bass see the world in an entirely different way than anglers do, I still find myself falling into this trap. Especially when it comes to lure selection. If I feel like the bass are chasing baitfish, I’ll tend to throw a spinnerbait, crank or paddle-tailed swim bait. But if I feel like they’re feeding on crayfish, I’ll opt for jigs or Texas-rigged crawfish-style baits.
When this strategy works, all is fine with the world. But there are times when the bass do not seem to want what I intuitively suspect they should. That’s when I run into problems.
Sometimes, bass want something strange, something unusual. Perhaps they want something that doesn’t remotely resemble anything living in the water. These are the times I struggle the most, as I have a hard time fishing unnatural looking baits with confidence.
Brush hogs vary slightly from one manufacturer to the next, but most are variations of a similar theme (“brush hog” is the name of the Zoom product, but it is also the name most people use to generically describe these types of lures) . They are usually between about 4 and 8 inches long, tubular and adorned with two thick tails, two long, thin tails and two bent arms. They are available in the same colors as most other soft plastic baits.
As you may have already surmised, this doesn’t resemble anything on the regular menu for bass. Although flapping tails can mimic the tail of a swimming baitfish, brush hogs are much longer and skinnier than any other commonly used fish-mimic.
They look a bit like a plastic lizard, but even this is troubling, as lizard-shaped creatures don’t represent a reliable prey source for bass. None of the lizard species native to North America regularly enter water, and while salamanders may occasionally share waters with bass, they are typically confined to the weedy shoreline – you won’t find them 15 feet deep off the side of a point.
Like I said, they don’t really look like anything, and I don’t know why they work. But you better believe they do.
Presentation and Techniques
Brush hogs are probably used for flipping more than any other technique. Some anglers rig them Texas-style with a heavy nose weight, while others attach them to a jig head. In either case, they are typically presented vertically, through heavy vegetation. As the tentacled mass slithers down through the water column, lurking lunkers can’t help but slam it.
But you can also fish brush hogs in other ways too. You can bounce them along the bottom or swim them near the surface. This past weekend, I used a small brush hog on a down-sized Carolina rig; I have a ton of confidence in Carolina rigged presentations, but I had little to no confidence in brush hogs, so I was trying to hedge my bets.
Sure enough, little 4-inch brush hogs in green pumpkin were the only thing the bass showed interest in. In fact, those weird little baits kept me from getting skunked on an otherwise tough day on the water.
Switching Things Up
Believe it or not, some anglers find a standard brush hog rig to be too “normal.” Accordingly, they turn the bait around and rig it backwards, such that the twin tails are at the front of the lure, rather than the back. Although it physically pained me to do so, I tried flipping the brush hog around and fishing it with my Carolina rig. That lasted about three casts before I saw the way the bait moved through the water. This type of presentation looks even less like an actual creature, so I just had to stop – I didn’t have any confidence in the backward presentation.
Let us know how you’ve done with brush hogs and other unusual creature baits. Do you rig them normally, or do you spin them around and fish them backwards? Have you developed any other unusual techniques? Share them with us in the comments below.