Huddleston's New "Huddlebug" - As Real as it Gets
By Ron Cervenka
You knew it was bound to happen. All it took was one look at a Huddleston Deluxe trout swimbait and you just knew that, one day, incredibly gifted artist and lure designer Ken Huddleston would come out with a life-like crawdad bait that would catch the country (and fish) by storm - just as his legendary Huddleston Deluxe swimbait has done.
At long last, the wait is over. After years of research and development (not to mention and a ton of blood, sweat, tears, and, of course, money) the Huddleston Deluxe Company has come out with its all new "Huddlebug" crawdad bait.
When you first take a new Huddlebug out of the package, you will immediately notice the extreme detail on what is clearly the most realistic looking artificial crawdad that you have ever seen. But it isn't until you actually fish the Huddlebug that you see its true beauty. The instant it hits the water, its legs, claws, and antennae begin to move just like a live crawdad. And when it is pulled along the bottom ever so slowly, it's easy to see why even the wariest of bass will not be able to tell the difference between the Huddlebug and a live crawdad.
The new Huddlebug comes in two styles: pre-rigged and unrigged, and is available in two colors: brown/purple and green/purple. The pre-rigged version has a new (patent pending) state-of-the-art weighed wire harness attached to its underside. This wire harness has two 1/16 ounce weights on it, which causes the bait to immediately right itself the moment it hits the water. The harness also causes the bait to fall perfectly horizontal. The unrigged version of the Huddlebug is identical to the pre-rigged version, but without the wire harness.
Because Huddlebugs are considered "finesse baits", it is best to fish them with the same equipment that you would use with any other finesse bait. While most anglers might prefer to fish the Huddlebug on light to medium action spinning gear, the physical weight of the bait (both the pre-rigged and unrigged versions) allows for it to be fished on light to medium action baitcasting gear, as well. Regardless of the equipment used, 6 to 8 pound fluorocarbon line is an absolute must; especially in clear water. That being said, I will occasionally bump this up to 10 pound fluorocarbon when I'm fishing the Huddlebug in and around heavy cover or when I'm fishing it at night.
Attaching the Huddlebug to your hook is a breeze. With the pre-rigged version, simply nose-hook the bait with a number 4 or a number 6 dropshot hook from the underside (behind the wire harness), and out the top right between the eyes. That's it. You are now ready to put the Huddlebug into action.
By far, the most popular (and effective) method of fishing the unrigged version of the Huddlebug is to dropshot it. Even though there is no wire harness or weights on the unrigged version, you attach it to your hook exactly as you would the pre-rigged version - nose-hooked with a number 4 or a number 6 dropshot hook from the underside and out the top right between the eyes. I have had the most success with a 12 to 18 inch drop below my hook.
While nose-hooking a Huddlebug and fishing it by slowly crawling it forward may be in direct contrast to the way in which we normally fish crawdad imitating baits (i.e. backwards with the claws to the rear), doing so offers the most life-like presentation possible. Keep in mind that crawdads walk forward across the bottom most of the time and only "swim" backwards when they are fleeing from immediate danger.
When asked what his favorite way to rig and fish the new Huddlebug is, creator Ken Huddleston simply said "The sky is the limit, just as it is with the Huddleston Deluxe swimbaits. You are going to see guys playing around with the Huddlebug and coming up with some really original and creative ways to rig and fish the bait." Big bass expert Butch Brown describes the new Huddlebug as " the ultimate finesse bait."
During a recent outing at Castaic Lake in Southern California, I spent a great deal of time fishing the new Huddlebug. I opted for the pre-rigged version in the brown/purple color and fished it on 6 pound Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon line with a number 4 Gamakatsu dropshot hook. On my fish few presentations, I slowly hopped the bait along, just as I would a jig. This did not produce any results, so I next tried slowly pulling the bait along the bottom. On my second cast, I was greeted with an incredible thump of the likes that any true jig fisherman would appreciate. Because I was using a dropshot hook, I simply reeled into the fish, just as I would while dropshotting. While fighting the fish, I noticed that my hook had pulled free from the bait (through the wire harness) and that the Huddlebug had slid up my line a good 12 inches; thus preventing the bait from being thrown off of my line (or being destroyed by the fish). While Ken Huddleston may not necessarily appreciate this from a retail standpoint, it will certainly prove to be a good thing for us "consumers" - if you know what I mean. After a short battle, I boated the hefty three pound Castaic largemouth. I repeated this presentation and put three more Castaic clones in the boat in an hour's time.
I decided to experiment with a different presentation and slowly swam the bait just off of the bottom, occasionally "killing it" (letting it fall to the bottom). This met with the most voracious bite of the day, which turned out to be a beautiful six pounder. "Man this is fun," I told my 12 year old son Timothy, who had joined me for the day. "I think Ken has done it again!" In less than three hours of fishing the new Huddlebug, I put eight keepers in the boat, with my best five going an impressive 17 pounds - All on the same Huddlebug!
Needless to say, I believe that Ken Huddleston has hit another homerun with his new Huddlebug. However, unlike its predecessor the Huddleston Deluxe swimbait, I believe that the new Huddlebug is a bait that most anglers are more likely to throw all day long during a tournament; something that most tournament anglers find very difficult to do with the swimbait.
You can check out a few short video clips of the Huddlebug in action on the Huddleston Deluxe website at: http://www.huddlestondeluxe.com/homepage.html
Thanks for your time and always remember: "The shortest distance between two points is a reef!"
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