Posts Tagged With: Curl Tail Jig

Q & A with Heath Hippel of Buggs Fishing Lures

I recently had a chance to sit down with the owner and creator of Buggs Fishing Lures, Heath Hippel, to talk about his lures and ask him a few questions about them. More information about Buggs can be found by visiting htpp://www.buggs-fishing-lures.com or you can order them at http://www.buggsfishingstore.com

 

Q: So Heath, Buggs are a pretty unique type of lure. Tell us a little about them.

A: Buggs are fishing lures that are tied like flies. They’re inspired by the most successful fly patterns, bringing the best fly-fishing ideas to lure fishermen. They’re tied with rabbit strips and other popular fly tying materials on custom jig heads.

Q: The jigheads used to tie your lures are slightly different than the traditional jig head most of us are use to. What’s so special about your jig head.

A: The jig heads I use are made to land hook point up and to sit on the bottom without tipping over. This comes in handy when fishing shallow water. In a pothole or on a sand or mud bottom, Buggs will sit there and look alive. The shape and design was inspired by popular bonefish jig heads. This is relevant because bonefish and redfish might as well be cousins. They both inhabit shallow flats and swim around in search of baitfish, crabs, shrimp, and marine worms. They have inferior mouths, meaning their mouths are on the undersides of their heads, making it easy for them to suck prey up from the bottom. In addition to sitting on the bottom, the heads fall more slowly than traditional jig heads. This comes in handy when you’re swimming them over shallow grass.

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Q: With each of your lures, bunny fur has been your material of choice. What is it about the bunny fur that makes it so desirable to tie with?

A: The fur is part of it but a better description of the materials is rabbit strips. These are rabbit hides with the fur still on that has been tanned, dyed different colors, and cut into strips. Simply put, nothing moves in the water like rabbit strips. When the hide is wet, the strips absolutely come alive. That’s what makes the combination of the jig head and the rabbit strips so special. Buggs will sit there and look alive!

The other desirable factors are the durability, absorption, and variety. The hairs are anchored in the hide, and the hide is leather. They’re very durable, and oftentimes the last thing on the lure to wear out. Absorption factors in two ways: The hide must be wet, soaked all the way though, for the lure to look right. There are little air pockets trapped in the hide. The easiest way to get them out is to hold your Bugg under the water and squeeze the rabbit strips between your fingers. You’ll see the air bubbles come out and the lure will come alive. I also have customers who soak their Buggs in GULP juice or other water-soluble scent. Either way, when the hide is wet the lure weighs more and is easier to cast and absolutely looks alive.

Lastly, there are four different cuts of rabbit strips available and dozens of different colors. This gives me lots of options when designing lures.

Q: As far as small businesses go, Buggs Fishing Lures is exactly that. The company consists of you and your wife, along with a few workers that help tie the lures. What’s it like running your own small business?

A: It’s a constant balancing act between my Buggs business, my day job, my wife, our four kids, and other family activities like church. I absolutely love my Buggs business, but I have to prioritize every day and make sure I take care of my other responsibilities. It’s a little crazy, but every day is different and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: Like most things today, Buggs Lures can be ordered online from http://www.buggsfishingstore.com. However, many tackle retailers have started carrying them in their stores. How many different states are Buggs available in now?

A: Buggs are available in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina. Here’s a link to our friends page that includes our retailers: http://www.buggs-fishing-lures.com/buggsfriends.html

Q: With eight different Buggs available for purchase, which one is your best seller and why do you think that is?

A: The Curl-Tail Jig is the best seller. It’s one of the original two offerings, so it’s been in my customer’s hands for the longest time. So history and longevity has a little to do with it. But the main reason it sells the best is a combination of effectiveness and versatility. It was designed for fishing saltwater flats, and has proven to be extremely effective for targeting redfish. It performs equally well when blind casting or sight casting, and in clear or muddy water. In addition to redfish, it works really well when targeting flounder. My customers also catch trout, drum, and the occasional sheepshead with it. In freshwater I get great feedback from bass fishermen who use it in light cover, for skipping docks, and sight casting. The tail can be changed out, and we tie a screw lock on the hook shank so your trailer won’t slip off.

Q: To your knowledge, how many different species of fish have been caught while using a Bugg? Also, tell us a few of the most popular fish anglers target with them.

A: I guess I jumped the gun a bit when I talked about all the fish that my customers have caught using a Curl-Tail Jig. But this gives me a chance to talk about the bonefish / light tackle jigs. Earlier I mentioned that popular bonefish jig heads inspired the Buggs original jig head. When I started selling Curl-Tail Jigs and Double Bunny Jigs several customers recognized the resemblance and took them on their bonefish trips. The trouble was that bonefish are generally smaller than redfish, and popular bonefish destinations like Mexico and Belize are home to bonefish in the 1-3 pound range. The hooks were too large, and they were missing fish. They returned from their trips and requested true bonefish jigs. So I designed my own bonefish jig heads with appropriately sized hooks and created four different bonefish jig patterns based on four of the most popular bonefish flies. My customers have caught bonefish, permit, tarpon, and several species of snapper on their bonefish trips. But we also know that fish up here eat small baitfish, shrimp, and crabs. The hooks on these jig heads are strong enough to use with light tackle. My customers along the Gulf Coast have caught redfish, flounder, trout, tarpon, and several species of snapper on these jigs as well.

More Info: http://www.buggs-fishing-lures.com/bonefish-jigs.html

SM Big RedQ: As far as fish go, redfish seem to be the number one fan of Buggs. What is it that makes a redfish pounce on a Bugg when it crosses its path?

A: I think there are three main reasons that Buggs are so effective for redfish. First is that Buggs land softly and are less likely to spook a redfish compared to other lures. Second is that Buggs look alive, even when sitting on the bottom. Third is that Buggs imitate what redfish eat and have the right profile.

Q: Can we expect anything new from Buggs Fishing Lures anytime soon that you are able to share with us?

A: I have several new lures in development. The first is a downsized version of a Curl-Tail Jig that is tied on a bonefish jig head. I’ve been tying this one for a while and I have lots of customers who are eager for it to go into full-scale production.

The second is a crab jig designed specifically for Permit. This is a newer idea, and borrows some of the techniques I used when designing the Beastie Bugg. I’m tying it as realistic as I can because permit are so picky. It’s a fun challenge, and I know that there will be lots of other species that will eat it as well.

Lastly, and this is the one I’m probably most excited about, is a shad imitation. I’m using a new tying technique I learned about that will make the lure dart back and forth on the retrieve. Plus, when it stops the lure falls slowly and evenly, just like a wounded or dying baitfish. I’ve already caught a five-pound bass on a prototype and a friend of mine has caught snook and redfish on another. I know it will be effective on speckled trout as well because it will have similar action to a hard bait, yet will look even more alive because of the rabbit. I’m hoping it will have crossover appeal to both saltwater and freshwater anglers.

The first place I announce the availability of new Buggs is my newsletter. The sign-up can be found on the right side of the home page. Look for the Email and Name boxes.

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Q: We’ll make the last question a tough one. If you were fishing the upper Texas coast, and could only take three Buggs with you, which three would you pick and what colors would you go with?

A: ¼ oz. Curl-Tail Jig – Black Gold

This one would be tied on for sure. I’ve lost count of how many redfish I’ve caught on this jig. All kinds of conditions, different times of the year, and I’ve caught flounder and trout on it as well.

¼ oz. Beastie Bugg – Blue Crab

If I found tailing or slowly cruising reds this is what I’d throw. They love to eat blue crabs and this jig will sit there and look alive.

¼ oz. Hydra Bugg – Electric Chicken with a 4” Chartreuse Glitter Bugg Tail

I throw this in shallow water when it’s really muddy or when they’re feeding on mullet. The Hydra Bugg is a larger profile bait with double rattles and a jig head with a prominent eye. It makes an impression! I also like to throw this in marsh drains because it will get down deep faster. Redfish, trout, and flounder eat this Bugg.

Q: Anything to say before we go?

A: Let me say two things before I go. First, thank you Sonny Mills for taking the time to ask these questions, and thank you Darryl Barrs for publishing this article and helping me get the word out on Buggs. Second, let me tell the readers that I truly appreciate and value feedback from my customers. It makes my day when I get a picture, text, or email about a successful fishing trip with Buggs. And I also value their feedback because I only fish in my home waters and not even as much as I’d like. It helps me to know how people are using Buggs outside of the Upper Texas Coast. The front page of the online store contains my contact information (including my cell phone) and I hope people will use it!

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Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series (Event #1 2015)

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I know its been a while since my last blog post, but unfortunately, that trend will continue for a while.  My wife and I are less than a month away from the arrival of our 2nd child, so fishing trips have been few and far between, and time to write or do anything else fishing related has been difficult to come by.  We’re excited about the arrival of our new little one though, which should happen sometime in mid May.

The first event of the Lone Star Kayak Series was held this past weekend and man was it a big one.  The largest event last year occurred during the first event in April and included 91 anglers.  With the tournament continuing to grow in popularity each year, we had high hopes of breaking the 100 angler mark for the first time ever.  When registration was finally shut down, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing.  176 anglers had registered for the first event of the season which nearly doubled the previous best mark.

With tourney day quickly approaching, I decided to take off work on Friday to try and locate a few fish.  I’m not a big fan of fishing the day before a tournament, but the location I chose was based off of past experiences and current weather conditions.  I had no clue if the fish would be around and wanted to check it out before showing up the next morning.

We’ve had rain for nearly two weeks straight leading up to this event, and most areas were running extremely fresh as far as salinity goes. On top of that, we had pretty strong SE winds that were causing our tides to run about a foot higher than predicted.  I would much rather fish a really low tide than an extremely high one, but that wasn’t going to happen this day.

I launched around 7:00 am on Friday morning and made the one mile paddle to the spot I planned to fish. I only spent about 2 hours fishing, but caught a decent 27″ red, missed another, and also caught an 18″ rat red all while using a Midcoast Popping Cork (Texas Swing) with a New Penny Gulp Mantis Shrimp.  Only one good fish was caught, but it at least let me know there were a few in the area.  I made it back to the truck around 10 and was on the road headed home.

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My alarm went of at 3:15 am on Saturday morning and I was on the road by 3:30.  After a quick stop at Bucee’s where I met up with David and saw a few other friends, we were on our way to the launch, breakfast burritos in hand.  We arrived around 5:30 and unloaded our gear with plenty of time to spare.  The phone alarm went off at 6:00 am and we pushed off a few seconds later doing the best to leave the mosquitos behind.

We reached our first spot around 6:30 as first light began to show.  We could hear bait being smashed along the grass lines and thought for sure we had chosen the perfect spot.  We both worked the edges of the grass with corks and gulp, but neither of us ever got a bite.  The feeding frenzy was short lived at around 15 minutes, before going completely quiet.  We continued working the grass lines with the exceptionally high tides before working a couple of drains with only one rat red by David to show for our efforts.

After a few hours of solid cork popping and no bites, I decided to move around and check out some other areas.  I made a short paddle to another lake and worked the grass lines first, followed by a narrow channel that runs through the small lake, and then the shell in the middle with no bites.  I was about to head back toward David but decided to cork a small drain where a few small baitfish were flipping.  A few seconds after casting into the drain my cork shot under and I was rewarded with a 23″ red.  Not quiet the one I was looking for, but it gave me a fish on the stringer, which is always a good feeling on tournament day.

After stringing that fish, I started hearing feeding fish over my shoulder where a series of endless islands and channels were weaving in and out of each other for a good half mile.  I started working my way through the drains, hearing bait getting busted about every minute or so.  I had difficulty locating exactly where the feeding was taking place while sitting down, so I decided to stand and pole.  Once standing, seeing where the commotion came from was easy to spot.  I stuck with the cork and gulp, making casts into the areas where the bait had been hit, and then making small pops of the cork to draw some attention to my bait.  After several casts that I thought for sure would yield bites went untouched, I decided to switch lures.

I had started getting glimpses of the bait being hit and they were very tiny shrimp about a inch in size.  I snipped off my topwater, tied on a 1/4 oz. Curl Tail Bugg (Hot Pink), and made a cast into the area where bait had just scattered.  The Bugg hit the water, I gave it one twitch, and the redfish unloaded on it.  I landed this fish in about 10 seconds due to the fact that it ran into the grass, causing it to become stuck.  I picked up the fish and thought I had just hit the jackpot.  After stringing the fish, and laying it on the Checkit Stick, I quickly realized that my fish was going to be out of the slot.  Once I pinched its tail, it measured 28 1/4″ which put it 1/4″ over the slot.  It was a tough blow going from a 13 lb. stringer, back down to 4.73 lb. because of 1/4″, but thats how tournament fishing goes.

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I worked the area a little longer, but just like earlier in the day, the bite died off after about 20 minutes.  I made my way back to David to let him know about the two fish I had landed and continued working the area near him.  I picked up an undersized red and extremely fat 22″ trout before I decided to head back to the area where the previous fish were caught.

We made our way to the small lake where I had caught my 23″ red and stopped to fish a small flat near a drain.  I was halfway through with a story about how a friend and I had caught a good number of reds on this flat our first trip to this area several years ago when David’s Pink She Dog was annihilated by what sounded like an extremely large fish.  I paddled away from him to make sure his fish didn’t tangle up with my kayak and returned 5 minutes later to check out his fish.  He asked me to give him a 2nd opinion on the length because he was having some difficulty determining if the fish was right at, or barely over 28″.  After a pinch of the tail it was clear that his fish was 28 1/8″ in length giving David the same heart break I had experienced just an hour earlier.

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We continued working the area but knew we were running short on time.  On our way back to the truck, David picked up a 24″ red on the same She Dog which meant he wouldn’t be going to the weighin empty handed.  I desperately tried picking up a second fish and thought I had succeeded when my She Dog was hit hard less than half a mile from the truck.  To my surprise, it was another extremely fat trout.

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We made it back to the truck and headed to the weighin to discover that some monster weights were holding down first and second place.  Joe Strahan from the Saltwater Boys Kayak Fishing Club out of the Beaumont area had 18.25 lb., which included his 1/2 lb. live bonus.  Closely behind him was another SWBKFC teammate, Brent Louviere with 17.15 lb. (1/2 lb. bonus included).  More than 100 kayakers checked in at the weighin and 62 anglers weighed in fish.  My 23″ redfish put me in 57th place while David’s 24″ red had him finish in 52nd.  Definitely not the places or fish we were looking for, but we’ll be back again in June, hopefully with better results.  Joe’s winning fish are pictured below.

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

1st Place: Joe Strahan – Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

We all had a great time at the weighin and I enjoyed seeing good friends on stage receiving their prizes and cash.  Registration is already open for the 2nd event on June 6th, and hopefully we have another great turnout.  Anyone interested in reading up on the rules, seeing past results and pics, or wanting to register can do so by visiting http://www.lonestarkayakseries.com

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

Photo Credit: Jeff Herman

I would like to thank Jackson Kayak, Werner Paddles, Hook Spit Performance Rods, Buggs Fishing Lures, and FishHide Sportswear for all of their support.  I have been blessed with opportunity to use and promote these great products and look forward to a continued partnership for years and years to come.

Conditions:

Wind: Non existent at times, 20 mph at others

Weather: Cloudy skies with temps around the mid 80s (never saw the sun)

Tides: 1 foot above predicted, high, and not moving

Bottom: Mud and Shell

Depth: Anywhere from 1-5 feet deep

Lures: 1/8th oz. Buggs Curl Tail Jig (Hot Pink), She Dog (Red Head, White Body, Chrome Back), and MidCoast Popping Cork with Gulp Mantis Shrimp

Rod: 6′ 10″ Hook Spit T-N-T and 7′ 2″ Hook Spit Zephyr Elite

Reel: Shimano Citica and Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500H

Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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