I have decided, among other things I’m planning on doing this summer, that I’m going to be gathering a library of underwater footage of certain baits, as they swim.   To me, a ‘swim signature’ is the footprint or fingerprint or unique identifier that all baits have.  This just needs to be done.    The culmination of all things a bait gives off as it is swam (thinking mostly swimbait/bigbait) but all baits have some sort of fingerprint in or ontop of the water.  I have access to a river, various springs, and clear water lakes that shall provide excellent natural environments to show the swimming of various baits and just showcase baits in the water.   I’ve seen a lot of footage of baits swimming in swimming pools and even in lakes/ponds, but I’m finding there is something unique about swimming a bait in place in the current of a river, that allows the camera to really capture the subtle details of the swim and give you a better feel for all that is going on with the bait.

First thing of course is the dead-on accuracy and realism of the bait’s profile. Notice the Weedless Shad’s fully booted, miniaturized version of the 8″ trout’s vortex tail. The Weedless Shad’s tail has more thump and vortex than the Grass Minnow, and because it is a slightly bulkier and heavier bait, I find it fishes better in some situations. But both the Grass Minnow and Weedless Shad should have real estate in your tackle box. Fish catching sum’o’guns.

The idea of this ‘swim signature’ series is to provide an objective look at how baits swim in the water, with very little or zero narration or voice over.  So, to kick things off, I went out and spent some time swimming the Huddleston Deluxe Weedless Shad in very clear little crick.  I am using normal and slowed camera speeds.   The Weedless Shad is an incredibly real and lifelike shad swimbait.  I have caught fish from Lake Champlain to Okeechobee on this bait.  I love to fish it in grass, but I know it will work around wood, or even open water.   I filmed the bait on 50# Power Pro Braid, why?  Because that is how I  fish the bait, is on braid.   I am teaching myself some new knots and methods for attaching floro and mono leaders to braid, but for the most part, I find 50# braided line that is coated black with permanent pen, very low profile and very fishable.   I had some really bad experiences with floro and mono leaders, but am trying to come back around with the help of some trusted friends.  Bigbait and swimbait fishing takes the physics involved to levels the square bill and shakey head guys don’t typically get.  These are baits and fish of consequence, and even just repeated casting does things that are hard to quantify, but ultimately weakens knots and line. Basically, I plan on filming the baits on the same line as I fish them natively.   Of course 8# florocarbon would make the bait look and swim better, and perhaps I’ll get myself there, but when I pull out the Weedless Shad on 50# braid, I’m using going in and getting after it.  Guys who throw 100% floro tend to be fishing more open water, whereas I find myself in the jungles of the South East, on places like Santee Cooper, Okeechobee, Eufaula, and Seminole where grass, wood, and big bug-eyed bruisers are the game.

Swimming baits in place is surfing like on a ‘standing wave’… I’m finding out how telling the quality of a bait is by it’s ability to be swam in place. The baits that tend to catch fish swim nicely in current, in place. Hardbaits are much more difficult to swim in place, but even among the softbaits, their are stars and their are duds. The Weedless Shad is a shining star, excellent swim and example of realism in motion.


I’m not a great trout fisherman, and I haven’t spent as much time with the Huddle-Bug as I’d like to speak with any super authority on the bait, but let me tell you, I’m learning in hurry.  Brown trout are notoriously tough fish to catch.   They are very smart and very spooky and very well in tuned with their natural environment.  They are easily spooked and require an excellent presentation to catch.   It’s been said, catching a 10 pound brown trout is much more difficult than catching a 10 pound bass.  All I know is, I really like crossing over, cross over fishing intrigues me.  Taking swimbait and freshwater applications and applying them to other species and salty waters.

The Huddle Bug by Ken Huddleston
You know what they say: "Huddle-Bugs of a feather..." Ken Huddleston's Huddle-Bug, realism in the crustacean kind

So, here is the Huddle-Bug in a nut-shell.  Very very real.  Very real movement and look in the water.   The Huddle Bug Jig Head fits the bait perfectly and is a combo ‘pea’ and skakey head with a screw lock to make sure your bait rigs and fishes true.  If a man knew where a bunch of big smallmouth and spotted bass lived (not to excluded largemouth at all!) I think he could get well in a hurry with these baits.  Deep fish that eat small jigs, or shallow water, river fish that you have to use finesse jigs and craw presentations.   Not the ‘stroking a jig’ style of fish, but the slowly creep, and pop/hop  style of fish.  The fish that are eating by sight, by realism and by instinct.

White River Ozarks Brown Trout on the Huddle-bug
Brown Trout are a litmus test of sorts, because browns are often said to be one of the most difficult fish to fool. Just ask a fly fisherman. Catching a brown and the other looks I had in 2 separate "stalking sessions" is all I needed to see to say, "yep, this bait is legit".

This brown trout is NOT a bedding brown or a ‘red’ as they call them.    This is a pre-spawn brown trout, and if you really want to try some really cool fishing, you walk softly along the banks of the White River near Cotter, Arkansas and you look for browns hunkered down, just sitting and occassionally feeding, but sitting really calmly, hardly moving or giving themselves away. If you can spot them, and you make a good presentation, you can catch these fish.  The Huddle-Bug catches them.  The browns showed immediate interest and well, this is just the beginning of this game too.   You’ll notice in the above photo montage/animation the “stalk up on them” cast, throw upstream, and drift of the bait into the fish’s feeding lane and getting the fish to eat with a natural presentation/hop/slide.

My setup:

Bait:  The Huddle Bug  (match whatever color of crawfish you believe the fish are eating, where ever you happen to be fishing)

Jig Head:  The Huddleston Jig Head

Rod:  Shimano Cumara 7’2″ M Action Spinning Rod  (CUS72M)

Reel:   Shimano Stradic C14 Spinning Reel (STC142500F)

Main Line:   Power Pro, 15#

Leader:   Yamamoto Sugoi Florocarbon 10#  (double uni knot to Main Line/braid)

The rigged Huddle-bug
The rigged Huddle-Bug on the Huddle-bug Jig Head, built to fit perfectly and compliment the bait. Screw lock holds the bait secure and make sure your bait fishes and trackes true. I like to 'texpose' and come out like the picture above, then tuck the hook point back under a little skin and cover it, but make it really easy to expose. In some cases, just leave it exposed even.
White River Brown Trout Sight Fishing with a Huddle-Bug
18 inches of Joy. The White River, near Cotter, Arkansas, the "new" new proving grounds. Truth in fishing. Cross over fishing proves truths that transcend species and fresh and salt boundaries.
Undeside of the Huddle-bug
Underside Huddle-Bug Etouffee


Here is some previously unreleased footage and insights into grass swimbait fishing with the Huddleston Deluxe Weedless Suite of Baits:  The Grass Minnow, The Weedless Shad, and the 6” Weedless Trout.   This is the first part of what we are calling “The Big O Sessions”, and this Part One is called:  Grass Swimmers.

This footage was shot on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, in January 2011.   We are celebrating the launch of a new site for southernswimbait.com and just celebrating rising water levels on Okeechobee and counting our blessing for still being on the road, fishing.  Gonna keep the train rolling into 2012.

Gear for the Grass Minnow:

Rod:  G-Loomis 964 BBR
Reel:   Shimano Curado  200 G6 or G7 (either 6.5.1 or 7.0:1 Gear Ratios will work)
Line:   Power Pro 50#
Knot:  Palomar

Gear for the Weedless Shad:

Rod:   G-Loomis 964 BBR
Reel:  Shimano Curado 200 G6 or G7 (either 6.5.1 or 7.0:1 Gear Ratios will work)
Line:   Power Pro 50#
Knot:  Palomar

Gear for the 6” Weedless Trout

Rod:   G-Loomis 965 BBR
Reel:   Shimano Curado 300 E
Line:  Power Pro 65 or 80#
Knot:  Palomar

Sunglasses:     Black Kaenon Hard Kores with Y-35 Lens

Notes:  Watch the hook sets in the above video.   Slower action rods, sweeping pressure set style hook sets.   Long whip casts, where you have 12-15” of line out from your rod tip and make a whip cast to get the bait out there and maximize casting distance with an 8 foot rod.  Whatever style or brand of sunglasses you wear, try out some Yellow lenses in the black Florida water.  You will be amazed at what Yellow lens technology does to brighten up that black Florida water, no matter if the sun is out or not. I wear my Kaenon Hard Kores with the Y-35 lens everyday in Florida (including out to the night clubs in South Beach, it helps me blend in with the hipsters!).


Here is some footage of Ken Huddleston, walking me through his ‘vault’ ( a cardboard box ) of baits that represent his almost 20 years in making swimbaits.  Ken is “the guy”, and I figured this footage would be pretty cool for all the swimbait geeks out there that enjoy the history of swimbaits and would enjoy some footage of Ken walking through some of his swimbait creations over the years.

weedless trout on okeechobee
Watermelon Red 6" Weedless Trout and an Okeechobee 'trout eater'

I’m shocked this bait hasn’t won a major tournament for me or someone else yet.  This is a tournament swimbait if there ever was one.  Grass fishing is just one of the major opportunities for this bait.  The 6” Weedless Trout is a full bodied swimbait, but at only six inches long (weighs approx 1.75 ounces) this is a swimbait that gets the tournament style 3-5 pounders to bite, but has the potential for big bites.

To understand the 6” Weedless Trout, you need to first understand that the 6” Weedless Trout utilizes the patented Huddleston Vortex Tail.  This tail design has proven itself as a fish catcher, matching the swim signature of a trout or other bait fish.   The bait has a single molded in hook, with a collapsable air pocket chamber than encompasses the hook, making it weedless, but also enabling the bait to hook any fish that bites it.

weedless trout
Top View, 6" Weedless Trout, hook completely hidden, yet the collapsable air chamber makes for high hookup ratios and plays into our theories on Ken's Vortex.
weedless trout hook
With a little pressure and braided line, you'll get this hook to expose itself and pull nice fish from grass, wood and anywhere tight to structure or cover

Just like with any kind of frog fishing, we highly recommend you skip florocarbon and just go to straight braid and go to work.  Braided line provides line buoyancy characteristics and zero stretch that make it a lethal combination when combined with the 6” Weedless Trout.   The key to the hook set is using a slower action parabolic rod and letting the fish load up on the bait and then apply a forceful but not overly aggressive pressure set and constant wind to hook the fish.   You need to keep a high rod tip during your retrieve, and once bit, drop your rod tip, let the fish eat the bait a second, then sweep hard and reel and keep the fish coming to you.    Hookup ratios aren’t 100%, but with braided line we’re getting 8 or 9 out of 10 bites in the boat.

guntersville grass
Find yourself some shallow grass, decent water clarity, and just use a steady retrieve, nothing too fast or slow.

Dock Skipping: If you watch Southern Trout Eaters, we cover dock skipping with the 6” Weedless Trout. I can skip a 6” Weedless Trout under and around docks better than I can a senko.  This bait is a dock skippers dream.   You can put a full bodied swimbait in places the fish have never seen a swimming bait.  Lethal at times, when the fish are positioned way up under docks.  Again, braid recommended for ease of line management and for getting big fish out from under docks.

dock skipping swimbaits
We showed dock skipping the 6" Weedless Trout in Southern Trout Eaters. Braided line, Curado 300 and Shimano 815XFA (sadly no longer available).


Bait: 6 Inch Weedless Trout  (the ROF 12 is what we recommend for most applications)
Rod:  G-Loomis 965 BBR
Reel: Shimano Curado 300
Line:  65 or 80# Power Pro or P-Line Spectrex Braid

Strengths:  The 6” Weedless Trout puts a bait where only baits like swim jigs and skinny dippers can usually play.  The size of the 6” Weedless Trout makes it a standout, and will get bigger bites.   There are very few bigbaits that are weedless (the 3:16 Mission Fish being the other), so when you are throwing the 6” Weedless Trout, you are likely showing them something of size that they haven’t seen before.  The six inch size makes it a really good choice for tournament swimbait fishing, and will catch 2-5 pounders.

lake eufaula swimbait fishing
Lake Eufaula, FLW Eastern Series, shallow dirty water tournament swimbait fishing with the 6" Weedless Trout, ROF12, Junebug.

Ideal Conditions:  Shallow grass, lilly pads, lilly stems, dollar pads, reeds, hydrilla, milfoil, or whatever shallow hard grasses are excellent places to throw the 6” Weedless Trout.  The bait is extremely weedless and can be fished virtually anywhere without hanging up, yet able to hook a fish.   Wood is an excellent application of the 6” Weedless Trout too, where you need to make a lot of contact with the wood to draw a strike. You can fish through a laydown tree and purposely make a lot of contact with the trunk and branches, and get some big bites from trees that usually only see flipped baits, square bills, spinnerbaits and the traditional assortment of lures.   Docks too are an excellent application of the bait.  When you get some practice and the hang of it, you will find the 6” Weedless Trout one of the best dock skipping baits around, that has the potential to hook a giant.

The 8” Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trout

Ken Huddleston and his hand carved 8" Huddleston Deluxe master
Ken Huddleston and the hand carved 8" Rainbow Trout that the molds would be made from

The 8” Huddleston Deluxe deserves its own dedicated web server, T1 line, and 10 TB of fault tolerant/redundant storage and virtual machines to discuss!   We love having fun with themes and ideas around the baits we throw, and the Huddleston is probably the most fun.    If there is one bait you need to learn to catch the biggest bass that are caught by casting and retrieving anywhere there are trout, you need to learn the 8″ Huddleston Deluxe.   The numbers are there, it has proven itself as hands down the most effective bait for the biggest fish ever caught.

The 8” Huddleston has caught more fish over 15 pounds than any one bait in history.   You need to read that sentence again and contemplate that for a second.  I have friends who’ve caught fish 15-18 pounds on the 8″ Huddleston, I’ve caught one 14.6 pounds from South Carolina.  Jeremy Pratt also has a 13/14 ish pounder from South Carolina.  There is a reason the 8” Huddleston catches the biggest of big trout eaters—it’s a combination of realism and swim.  To understand the 8″ Huddleston Deluxe swimbait, you have to understand Ken Huddleston and what he is doing.    Ken is such an interesting fellow, with such depth and breadth into big fish behavior.    It was a real treat to include him in Southern Trout Eaters.

huddleston deluxe rainbow trout swimbait
Ken's hand carved 8" Rainbow Trout up close

There is a line in Southern Trout Eaters where Ken Huddleston says, “I believe, the really big ones analyze a bait…etc etc etc.   That set Ken apart for the universe as far as I’m concerned.  There was something completely accurate about the assessment.  Big fish, the truly big fish analyze a bait, and if everything is right, then they will commit.  The analysis is more advanced than 99.9% of traditional bass fishing gives credit to.  Sight, smell, water displacement, vortex, and naturalism.   It’s not  just a lateral line feeling or how real something tastes or how long they will hold onto a bait. It’s multiple honed senses all triangulating off each other to assess and make decisions.  That is truly big fish behavior.  You will witness it when you commit to throwing the bigbaits.  Sooner or later, you’ll have some big fish follow the bait, and you’ll notice they track  behind your Huddleston, and you can see them ‘feeling’ your bait as it swims thru the water.   They are feeling what the trout leaves behind in it’s trail, and that is what makes the 8” Huddleston truly special.

Here is what you need:

Bait:  8” Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trout (ROF 5 or ROF 12, get both actually and learn them intimately)

Rod:  GLoomis 966 BBR (high end rod) or Okuma 7’11” Heavy (value bigbait rod)

Reel:  Shimano Calcutta 400 TE (high end swimbait reel)   Or Cardiff 400 ( value bigbait reel)

Line:  P-Line CXX Xtra Strong Moss Green, 30 Pound

Hooks:  Owner ST-66 Stingers (#4 rear stinger, #2 on belly ring/split ring)

Split Ring:  #5 Owner Hyperwire

Rigging:  The Southern Trout Eater Huddleston Rig  & Southern Trout Eater Hook Masking

Strengths:  When you are armed with an  8” Rainbow Trout Huddleston, you know you are throwing the #1 bait in the history of swimbait fishing and it continues to rock the world both West and East and down South.   You don’t get any more high percentage for getting a bite than the 8” Huddleston Deluxe.   The other benefit is you will be forced to learn a new style of fishing around realism and naturalism and learn to hunt big fish.   Learning to fish the ROF 5 and ROF 12 should be goals high up on your list of things to do if you want to get right with fishing the Huddleston.  Not to say the ROF 0 or ROF 16 don’t have their place, it’s just staggering when you start to look at the numbers on the ROF 5 and ROF 12 though.  Consider how many Butch has caught on the ROF 5 and the ROF 12.  Rob Belloni and Nico Raffo made a mint fishing the ROF 12, because as Rob told me, ‘You get to the fish faster’ … speaking as to why the ROF 12 over the ROF 5.   This was 2005 when things were literally about being the first one to fish a place with a Huddleston Deluxe, anywhere there were trout in California or anywhere on the West Coast.    Today the bait is still producing number of fish, as Southern Trout Eaters will attest, but also giants, I mean high teens … which Butch Brown is NOT the only guy catching these, he just is so damn on them and knows where they live and how to get them to bite so intimately, that his accomplishments alone speak to why the 8” Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trout stands alone in catching the biggest fish and the most fish when it comes to trophy hunting.   So, do yourself a favor and get a rod and reel dedicated to this bait.  Get your fishing around the Huddleston Deluxe.  It is that profound a bait.  I am just getting started fishing it on lakes without trout, and yes, they eat it.

Ideal Conditions:  Water temps as low as 45-60 degrees, early Spring.  Then as things cool down from 70 to 45 again in Fall.  Those are ideal.    Anytime you are fishing an 8”  Huddleston, you are fishing high percentage for the trout eaters.    Dead of summer or dead of winter, this bait will catch them too, just understand that Spring and Fall tend to be ideal.

Notes:   If you watch Southern Trout Eaters, approximately 70% of the fish in the film were caught on the 8” Huddleston and the 8” Huddleston accounts for more like 80% of all the bigbait fish we’ve caught in the South.     It’s the only bait Jeremy Pratt throws.   Easy Button, don’t kid yourself, when in doubt, ROF 5 or ROF 12 8″ Rainbow Trout Huddleston Deluxe.

I met Ken Huddleston in Las Vegas in June 2010. I was driving from Arkansas to California for a little summer break back ‘home’.  As well, I was planning on finishing up the film over the summer and wanted to interview Ken.  Well, I called Ken, he obliged the meeting and we met in a park.    Understand Ken will not let me or you or anyone into his shop.  This is his intellectual property and I can tell you that Ken trusts most fishermen as far as he can throw them.   Ken is wise because he’s been there and done that and has contemplated on most things you will eventually ask or wonder in swimbait fishing.  There is a ton of wisdom in everything Ken does.

I sat on a park bench in Las Vegas and rolled film. I had no idea what I was in for.  I have an approx 30 minute interview and was only able to use <5 minutes of it in Southern Trout Eaters, but to me it was just excellent footage and added such depth to the film.   Ken sat there and basically helped me understand all the things I’ve been experiencing and thinking on, but couldn’t communicate.   The Vortex Tail.   The Vortex Tail creates the signature a rainbow trout leaves behind as it swims thru water.  So Ken proceeds to walk me thru his other family of baits and how that same philosophy holds true.  For example, the tails on the  Grass Minnow and Weedless Shad were engineered to match the vortex a shad or minnow put off as they swim.

I asked Ken about his logo.  He cool and calmly tried to explain the relationship between Man, God and Nature.  Meaning, in order for the angler (man)  to communicate with fish (nature)  there has to be a spiritual understanding coming from a higher source.  And that higher source (God) helps Ken understand how the natural world communicates.   So, in order for Ken to create a bait that truly could fool the largest of bass, it had to be the most realistic, and furthest away from Man’s flaws.  The 8” Huddleston Deluxe is on one end of the spectrum and a chatterbait and rattle trap is on the other.   The Huddleston is absolutely real and gets bit because it’s mistaken as a trout, whereas a chatterbait gets bit because it has an awesome new thump and chatter.    So in understanding how the natural world really works, Ken created the 8” Huddleston to have lethargic and slow and real swim, no vibrating or making unnatural movements, basically being as subtle as possible to blend into the natural world and not stick out—–nature tries to blend in and not be seen, and that is key to understanding why the 8” Huddleston Deluxe has caught and fooled the biggest of big.

Go ahead and Google “Butch Brown” if you are looking for evidence of what we are referring to, and watch his videos.    Ken’s understanding of the natural world, big fish behavior and angling make his baits special.    The Huddleston profile is the most real trout profiled bait made, the paint job is 110% accurate and excellent, and the vortex tail matches the swim signature of a rainbow trout——hence, there is other bait that can match the Huddleston, and when you really look, its because it’s so real in appearance and swim.

The conversation with Ken absolutely 100% changed my perspective on what was going on with some of my swimbait fishing and where I was headed with the film.  It really resonated with me, and really spoke volumes to me about who I’m aligned with and how fortunate I am to work with someone like Ken.   The intent of interviewing Ken Huddleston our film was to provide to honest input from the guy who makes the bait and to hopefully capture some insights into his design process and ethos.  Well, I thought this was an absolute home run, mission accomplished in the film and what we captured. Just profound insight into swimbait fishing and deeper more profound lessons of big fish behavior.   I’ve been lost in Ken’s Vortex since that June day.    It really shaped how the film came together, not because I’m trying to be Ken’s flunky, but because I totally 100% agree with most of what Ken is laying down and I believe in what he does and the baits he makes.  His words and wisdom made clarity and connected dots to ideas and part of equations I couldn’t explain prior to our meeting.  It was just profound, and fun.  We got along great and just had a healthy conversation and made an otherwise impromptu session super insightful.

Now, applying the Vortex Tail outside of the Trout Eaters, that is next and something we are working on as much as possible.   Its being done and something we plan to give you full disclosure and  access to. However, we aren’t there yet.

But when it comes to trout eaters in the South, that is where we have focused a ton of time and energy to show how we’ve taken the same baits that won the west over and are applying them in the MidWest and South.   The Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trout is the #1 bait out West, and our film Southern Trout Eaters shows why it’s the #1 bait for us down South too.

Here is the movie trailer for Southern Trout Eaters: