Since I had a brief visit in Arkansas, I was able to go thru some old boxes of baits and find some things I wanted to share. With the recent release of our “Southern Trout Eaters” Huddleston Rig tutorial video, I thought the following was a good chronology of events and that ultimately have led up to where we are with our the Southern Trout Eater Huddleston rig. The rig is literally 10 years in the making.
The first softbait I ever fished with any consistency was the Eagle. The Eagle is a line thru bait and it weighs a good 4-5 ounces. It’s a straight up bigbait and was the first bait I ever committed to fishing for days and days. The problem with the Eagle was hook up ratios.
We (Cameron Smith, my pal from Dana Point, CA) and I were fishing San Vicente lake back around 2001-2003 quite heavily with the Eagle. Looking back on it, it is funny because I’m not kidding I would miss 5-8 bites per day on this rig. It wasn’t until Cameron and I got to tinkering that we made some adjustments. I remember Rob Belloni came fishing with me on San Vicente one day. He took one look at the Eagle and the stock hook harness and told me I need way bigger hooks, maybe play with rigging? Bass World West was going on in Southern California and so was Anglers Marine. Both places had their own ways of rigging up Osprey’s, Eagles, etc. It’s hard to say where exactly this stuff came from but we wanted hanging trebles, bigger hooks and had to leverage the line-thru design because those were the baits of the day…The Rising Son, The Rago Trout (name escapes me, Jerry’s original line-thru) and the Eagle kept me busy for years. Our hookup ratios went way up with our modifications, but God what I’d do to go back in time and have those days back. The fish were there and eating. We’d just miss a lot. Upper water column swimming bait that we’d fish super fast at times. Burning it, popping it, making it look like a trout trying to escape. Probably not always the best retrieve, but it worked for us, for a time.
Here is what we did in response and the evolution of our rigs and rigging. Double barrel crimps, 80# mono for the harness, cut paper clips, split rings and Gamakatsu hooks. You can tell my early swimbait rigs and trials because my baits have Gamakatsu treble hooks on them. I have long since been fishing Owner. Just a superior family of treble hooks in my opinion, hands down.
And then came the Castaic SoftBait Company. Not that they ever went anywhere, it was all the sudden coming together. Ken Huddleston used to work for Castaic or own it or something along those lines. Ken had direct involvement in Castaic Bait Company for a time and that can be seen in this next evolution. These soft Castaics are a definite precursor to the 8″ Huddleston Deluxe You had to literally remove the internal stock harness of the Castaic bait, then use a coffee stir straw to create a line thru and come out the belly at the right angle and get it all right, then create your double hook harness. The crazy thing was, I nailed this rig the first time I attempted it, and I caught a fish around the Chimney area of San Vicente within the first 15 minutes of fishing the rig, and the fish choked it. About a 6 pounder. Anyway, to me, this modified and glued up and line-thru’d Castaic rig is a clear connection to where we are with the Huddleston Deluxe today.
And here is a Castaic Sardine with a trap hook rigging. I will drop down to 60# mono and use the same 1.0B double barrel crimps to have a little bit lighter and more flexible harness that fits the smaller baits better. The Castaic Sardine is an excellent bait for those looking to explore blueback herring. If you do a little homework on herring and sardines, you’ll find the two are quite related, and both saltwater run.
There has been a lot of trial and error in our rigs and rigging and there will continue to be more. The better you get with rigging and the tools of rigging, the more you’ll be able to create your own rigs for your own applications.