Nothing makes me feel better than a good bite on a 8″ Huddleston!  I finally got a day of fishing where the wind was <20MPH and was able to setup and just fish, and I caught a nice one.  A lot of why I decided to come to West Palm Beach is access to Okeechobee. I have a sweet deal going where I store my boat at the lake and have a place to stay on the weekends, so that is just working out beautifully.  I have a lot of bigbait sessions ahead of me I hope.  The water level is 14.7 or something, so it’s falling out pretty quick.  But, I’m looking forward to another couple months of fishing for sure.  It was 85 degrees out there this day.

Hard grass and soft grass and black water.  3-4 feet deep.
Hard grass and soft grass and black water. 3-4 feet deep.

The 8″ Weedless Huddleston is something I’ve been mentally preparing myself for a while. I just haven’t had many sessions with it, where I could commit and throw it the majority of the day.  I really like the way the bait fishes.  The line tie on the nose makes it a ‘superior’ bait?  I don’t know if that makes sense, but I really like the line tie on the nose.  It just swims and fishes and orients right to you.  I am fishing it on straight 80 pound Power Pro Spectra, and Calcutta 400 TE and Loomis 966 BBR.  I just love that setup and with braid, its like, plus one or plus two more better.  I just love braid.   The braid is key for snatching and snapping your bait free in the grass.  If you muck up, a hard pop or jerk will often clear the bait and you fish thru.  At distance, these are things that cannot be done with anything but braid.  Couple that, with my experiences with the Grass Minnow, Weedless Shad and 6″ Weedless Trout, I know that braid is the deal with those baits, so to me, this was a no brainer.

Florida fish have an interesting frame. I didn't weigh this thing. It didn't cross my mind.  Unless they get enormous, I just sorta eye ball them.  I think it was about 7-8 pounds.  But that is what I'm hunting.  I need to figure out how to get 5-7 bites a day on this thing.
Florida fish have an interesting frame. I didn’t weigh this thing. It didn’t cross my mind. Unless they get enormous, I just sorta eye ball them. I think it was about 7-8 pounds. But that is what I’m hunting. I need to figure out how to get 5-7 bites a day on this thing.


Don’t hate because I have that carp/orange trout color on the 8″ Weedless.  Really, I have one.  I really hope Ken and Dennis come up with colors like this, and make them staples in their lineup.  I love the nightstalker color, and I love this color too. I really like the golden shiner color too. I just prefer darker/dark baits that would go good in the Okeechobee water.  The Night Stalker color looks fantastic in the Okeechobee water.  White has never been a good color of moving bait (save a chatterbait or spinnerbait) for me on Okeechobee with swimbaits/swimming worms.    I know other colors of the 8″ Huddleston will work on Okeechobobee too. I’ve caught them on hitch on baby bass, the non-weedless versions.

Halloween Style.
Halloween Style.


I’m landing the bites I’m getting on the 8″ Weedless, and they tend to be >6 pound fish.   They are awesome bites and you’ll have to be patient to see the film. I hope our next DVD might be a bigbait fishing thing in Florida.  Grass fishing.  Haven’t put it all together by a long shot, and if I’ve learned anything at 35, I know better to than to make claims and predictions, especially if they involve fish or women!  You cannot predict the fish.  You just don’t know how things will play out with the filming and footage and flow.  I sure hope I find a balance of work, social life, fishing Okeechobee and surfing around Jupiter and North!  I hope it works out and I make good decisions and have good flow.  We shall see. It has been anything but an easy transition back into corporate life, in a new city I’ve never lived.   But……8″ Huddleston bites do a man right!



Ace of Spades!



Burnt Orange Flavored 8" Weedless Huddleston Trout
Burnt Orange Flavored 8″ Weedless Huddleston Trout


From above, the 8" Weedless Trout in a not so trout kinda color.
From above, the 8″ Weedless Trout in a not so trout kinda color.


Slide slippin' around some eel grass
Slide slippin’ around some eel grass


This color isn’t generally available yet.  Ken sent me one, and since I’m fishing Okeechobee, I have been throwing this color.  Thought I’d show the 8″ Huddleston Deluxe Weedless Trout in action around some outside grass on Okeechobee.     I have no insights into when Ken will have more 8″ weedless baits for sale, and what color schemes he will go forward with.  I am just thankful to have gotten a few of them, and hope to show you some fish catches with them.  MP

Boot&Vortex Tails, weedless and not, braided line and 5 good bites a day, is that too much to ask for?

This is my 4th year on Okeechobee.  The lake is fishing WAY differently than in years past.  The lake is choked out.  The vegetation so thick in most areas, you simply cannot get to a lot of areas that we used to fish.  The fish are more main lake/outside edge of the grass line, where they’ve never really been when I’ve bee here.   What that means is new locations, and new ways to catch them.  You can actually fish hanging trebles and non-weedless baits, but with the water falling, weedless is better than not most times.  Still, new lake to me, fishing pretty old school I imagine, lots of flipping and punching going on, and just light pitching.   But unless you know where the big ones are, that is a brutal way to go about Okeechobee, and the zillions of miles of shoreline grass, mats, and edges.

Guys are going to smash them. I mean, 25-30 pound sacks.  Flipping and punching.  I’m not doing either. I’m going with the swimmers.  I have a small-medium-large approach, and let me be clear, I’m fishing the Everstart and FLW Tour Event, so this is the first of two events I’ll be fishing, so I’ve got reason to not fully disclose everything, until after the Tour Event (Feb 12th).  I’ve had some big days on the grass swimmers.  I’m fishing new baits, new water, new techniques and taking my bigbait approach to the grass, and some days, it works.  However, the last 2 days of practice have sucked.  I haven’t been catching them quite like I want to be at all.  They aren’t eating the bigbaits right now for some reason.  They sorta bump it and I’m talking 5-7 bites on a GOOD day, more like 1-2 bites some days.    This isn’t the Okeechobee where you catch 20-40 fish no problem.   I could come in with 1 or 2 fish tomorrow, but I’ve made up my mind to fish my game, fish my strengths and sorta let this be a test run for the Tour Open.

Braided line, bigbaits, and 8 foot rods can be killer.  Okeechobee can give and Okeechobee can take.  This place flip flops from whipping my butt and stoking me out.  Tomorrow, I’m boat 12, which wasn’t what I wanted, but whatever, first flight, early weigh in, gotta go for it.  I know I’m around some quality fish, and God willing, I get 5 bites in the boat.    Have a long day on Friday, and our weather has been pretty much gorgeous, but again, the lake is different.  In year’s past, I’d be putting 75-100 fish in the boat per day with 80 degree air temps.  It’s just not that way, despite the good weather.   The flippers and punchers are going to get ’em, but only a handful are going to get the big ones.  Too many guys are struggling and scratching.  I’m way better at focusing on 5 bites with a swimmer in my hand than punching a Beaver with the rest of the world.  You want to talk about overwhelming, try tackling Okeechobee with a flipping rod.    So thick and choked this year too.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.   Gonna take all my powers and skills to get 5 fish in the boat tomorrow. I’m not fishing for 2 pounders and fishing the safe and conservative route. I’ve never had fish eating the baits I’m throwing, leading up to a tournament and I gotta go for it.  This could be a big disaster for this Everstart, but even so, I’m considering this a sort of dress rehearsal for the Tour Event.   I just don’t feel like compromising and playing it conservative.  I’m tired of fishing every game but my own.  I’ve had as many as 12-15 bites and 25 pounds easy on my better days.   The weather has been warming things up and I expect boys to catch ’em, just not everyone is going to have 20+ pounds. I guess it will take 12 pounds per day to get a check. I think I can get 12 pounds in 2-3 of the right bites per day.   No bed fish going, but that too might change come Tour time.    Anywho, gonna try and have some fun, fish my strengths and my game, and if Day 1 doesn’t pan out, even more reason on Day 2 to go back and do it all over because I’m not gonna get 30 pounds fishing texas rigged trick worms, which is a good bait right now!


lake champlain weedless swimbait fishing
The Eastern Front: From New York to Florida, just add grass, and get into the Huddleston Deluxe Weedless suite of baits. This is the Weedless Shad, my first time ever fishing the baits, August 2010, Lake Champlain whackfest.

The Weedless Shad is the latest edition to the Huddleston family of weedless swimbaits, and fits in size between the Grass Minnow and the 6” Weedless Trout.  You will notice the Weedless Shad has an absolute threadfin shad profile, and a miniature vortex tail, borrowed from the proven 8” Huddleston Deluxe Rainbow Trout.   It’s more of a ball knob or boot tail (vs the swallow tail of the Grass Minnow).

huddleston vortex tails
The Grass Minnow (foreground) tail is a swallow tail, and is a more subtle swimmer, less thump and vibration than the tail of the Weedless Shad (background) that is more a ball knobber, and provides a bit more thump and vibration. You can feel the Weedless Shad swimming toward you much better than the Grass Minnow, especially when you have calm conditions and have gotten onboard the braided line bus.

The Weedless Shad is slightly bigger and heavier than the Grass Minnow and it’s more bulbous vortex tail gives off more thump and kick than does the Grass Minnow.   Because it is heavier, it tends to fish in the wind a bit better because you can cast it better.   The overall size and profile of the Weedless Shad make it an excellent tournament swimbait, and pretty much anywhere you have grass or wood, this bait is something to explore.

I find myself throwing baits like the Weedless Shad in places and areas where other guys are throwing swimming worms like the Skinny Dipper or a swim jig.  The Weedless Shad is extremely weedless and fishable, and because of the collapsable air pocket that  surrounds the hook, it has an excellent hookup ratio.  Once again, we highly recommend you fish your Weedless Shad on braided line.   You need the zero stretch, instant connection, buoyancy of braid around grass, and ability to pull fish from heavy cover with ease.

huddleston deluxe realism
Realism in shape, color, swim signature (vortex), and profile. The Weedless Shad (left) and Grass Minnow (right) are the epitome of realism in a tournament swimbait.

The hook set on the Weedless Shad is the same as the Grass Minnow or 6” Weedless Trout.  You want to keep your rod tip somewhere between 11 and 12 o clock, and when you get bit, drop your rod to parallel to the water or 9 o clock position and wait for your line to tighten up and/or your rod get some bend in it.  Then you know the fish has the bait, and go ahead and sweep hard (but don’t jack them) and reel. The spinnerbait hookset if you will.  Just keep applying pressure and wind them in the boat.

Gear for the Weedless Shad:
Rod:  G-Loomis 964 BBR
Reel:  Shimano Curado 200 G  (6.5 or 7:1, whatever you prefer)
Line:  50# Power Pro or P-Line Spectrex Braid

Strengths:  The Weedless Shad is a super realistic bait and has an excellent swim with added vibration and thump (over the Grass Minnow).  It is slightly heavier than the Grass Minnow so fishing it in wind makes sense sometimes (vs. the Grass Minnow).    The overall size and profile make it an excellent tournament swimbait, one that gets bites and lands fish.    Anywhere you have grass fishing or wood, this is a bait to go explore with.  You can cover a lot of water, just steady grinding this thing around like you would a spinnerbait.

okeechobee weedless shad
You are going to catch a lot of fish on the Weedless Shad (and Grass Minnow). You will get a lot of fish per bait, but do carry super glue or Huddle Bond, because between the grass, the fish and the fish's teeth, a lot of tears and rips happen.

Ideal Conditions:  1-3 feet of depth, shallow grass lake fishing with sparse lilly pads, mixed grasses, reeds, etc.   The clearer the water, the better.   The bait is very real and fish that see this bait tend to eat it.

Notes:    Colors aren’t a huge concern, because whatever natural or unnatural colors you throw, the fish will eat it.  I haven’t found a color of Grass Minnow or Weedless Shad the fish won’t chew.   Like all swimbaits, the better your bait swims, the more fish you’ll catch with it.  Swim comes from the lure’s designer, but also depends on the angler.

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 grass minnow and weedless shad
The Grass Minnow (foreground) and Weedless Shad (background) speak to Ken Huddleston's commitment to realism and innovations in engineering baits with vortex tails that match the swim signatures bait fish leave behind as they swim

The Grass Minnow was the first of Ken’s small weedless swimbaits that followed the release of his 6” Weedless Trout.  The Grass Minnow is a special bait because it has incredible realism and includes a special vortex tail that was engineered to match the signature that a minnow or small baitfish leaves behind in it’s trail.    The tail kick is extremely subtle, but when you step back and think about how much thump a real minnow gives off when it swims, it occurs to you what Ken is doing with the Grass Minnow.  The bottom line is the Grass Minnow gets eaten by big fish and little fish.

lake champlain grass minnow water
This is what good water for the Grass Minnow looks like. Shallow grass fishing and the clearer the water, the better
grass minnow lake champlain
Getting a little carried away, looking for the good 'hard' grass. Find good clean hard grass, and throw that Grass Minnow. Lake Champlain, near the French Canadian border

I’ve caught fish on the Grass Minnow on just about every grass lake I’ve thrown it:  Pickwick, Guntersville, Okeechobee, Champlain, Seminole, and Dardanelle.  Braid is key to my Grass Minnow approach.  Just like with the 6” Weedless Trout or any other Weedless Huddleston bait, I use braided line to aid in my hookup ratio and ability to fish the bait around grass.   Do you fish a frog on anything but braid?  Exactly.  You need zero stretch, the buoyancy of braid and the hook set ability of braided line to maximize your effectiveness with the Grass Minnow.

Grass Minnow Fishing Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee has been ground zero for a lot of my weedless swimbait fishing. The Grass Minnow gets quality bites and serves as an alternative to the Skinny Dippers everyone else is throwing

My hookset is a sweep set. I don’t jack the fish.  I keep my rod at 11 to 12 o clock, and just keep a steady grind on the bait.  Not too fast, not too slow.  When I get bit, I drop my rod tip to 9 o clock and let the fish eat the bait.  When my line tightens up or the rod begins to bow up at 9 o clock, that is when I sweep hard to the side (like a spinnerbait hookset) and reel like mad to get caught up and apply pressure to the fish.   I love the G-Loomis 964 BBR for the Grass Minnow. I can make long whip casts and really get the bait out there.  But the 964 BBR also is a relatively slow parabolic action rod and is perfect for braided line and grass fishing, and helps me get a hook into almost everything that bites my Grass Minnow.   I have a 90% or better hookup ratio on the Grass Minnow.  Most of my bites get in the boat, hands down.

Lake Seminole Grass Minnow
Lake Seminole has the right ingredients, shallow grass fishing, clean water in places and highly pressured fish

Here is a whole YouTube video I did on Lake Okeechobee, fishing the Grass Minnow:


Here is another video that discusses my approach to Lake Champlain, but also includes a section on the Grass Minnow from the shallow grass largemouth fishery of Champlain:


Bait:  The Grass Minnow  (colors?  show me one that doesn’t work!)
Rod:  G-Loomis 964 BBR
Reel:  Shimano Curado 200 G (w/ 6.5:1 Gear Ratio)
Line:  50 Pound Power Pro or P-Line Braid

Strengths:  The Grass Minnow is rare in that it is incredibly real and provides fish who are chasing small bait around grass something they haven’t seen.   Fish aren’t used to such subtle swimming baits that look and feel so real.  The Grass Minnow gets a lot of bites and is a resilient bait, meaning you can catch many fish on the bait and glue it back together a few times before you need to retire it.
Ideal Conditions:  Lakes with super shallow grass fishing, like Okeechobee, Seminole, and Guntersville are ideal for the Grass Minnow.  Anywhere fish are busting on small bait.  I throw the Grass Minnow in a lot of situations where other guys are throwing swim  jigs and paddle tailed tubes.

Notes:  Keep the wind at your back whenever possible. The Grass Minnow isn’t super heavy (5/8 ounce) and can be difficult to get casting distance or cross wind.   Keep super glue onboard because if you get into the fish, you are going to be repairing baits because you’ll catch a bunch of fish, big and small and they tend to inhale the thing, plus braided line and lots of muck and grass can wreck your baits.

cold grass minnow fishing
Okeechobee isn't usually 20+ pound sacks and hot and glassy conditions in the Winter. The Grass Minnow will get bites on those cold days where just getting 5 fish is the goal.