The latest fishing report said so, right there in print: The hot lure du jour was a white bucktail.
This seemed rather hard to believe. Haven’t bucktails been obsolete for decades? If these specks and stripers would hit a white bucktail, wouldn’t they go after a white plastic shad with just as much enthusiasm?
Fast-forward a few days: I’m casting to the points and guts of the marsh islands of Tangier Sound in the Chesapeake Bay, with my go-to plastic on the end of the line. Despite the light breeze, promising current and good reports of late, I’m drawing a blank. Then I remember: white bucktails.
Of course I have a few bucktails in my tackle box — most anglers probably do — so I find one not too ancient and rusted, tie it on the end of my line, thread a plastic twister onto the hook to give it some added appeal and start casting. Wham! A 22-inch trout slams the lure. Boom! Now a striper is on the line.
It couldn’t be that they’re really showing such a drastic preference for this amalgamation of deer fur and lead, right? Just to prove it to myself, I switch back to the plastic shad. No bites.
While I have no idea why the fish so clearly preferred bucktails on that day, the fact remains that the tried-and-true jig proved to be the hottest lure in that area for a month straight. Whether it had to do with profile, the action provided by hairs that fluff out when jigged or the thin profile bucktails present while moving forward through the water, those simple lures best mimicked what the fish wanted to eat.
Although bucktails are ancient in nature and rarely the first choice for a modern angler, there’s no denying that they still have their moments. And a bucktail enjoys many advantages over other lures: It can be cast, trolled or jigged with equal effectiveness. It can be dressed with an eye-catching tail that also provides color contrast. It can create a ton of movement from vigorous rod-tip action or be left to cruise through the water at a steady, mellow pace. It can be tipped with bait, either live or cut.
Bucktails may be old, but they’re certainly not obsolete or one-dimensional.
To get the inside scoop on why bucktails can be so effective, I spoke with a captain who has probably caught more fish on a bucktail than any other person alive: Ed Darwin, of Becky D Fishing Charters in Annapolis, Maryland….