Across the years, anglers have periodically asked the Finesse News Network to produce a video that focuses on the baits Midwest finesse anglers use and how and when to use them. In fact, as we were in the midst of writing this column, we received a note from Frank Hughes of Olathe, Kansas, and he asked: “You always talk about your various retrieve methods. Any chances of doing a video that demonstrates these methods or are they already out there somewhere?”
Upon receiving those requests, we respond by saying video productions are not our forte. We do note, however, that we helped Stacey King of Reeds Springs, Missouri, create a Midwest finesse feature on Dec. 9, 2010, at a 100-acre community reservoir in northeastern Kansas, and that footage appeared in “The Bass Pros TV” show in 2011, and it still can be seen by viewing the 2011 DVD edition of “The Bass Pros Seasons.”
Since King’s television show, a growing number of anglers have become aficionados of digital photography and the YouTube phenomenon, and several of these anglers have created homemade videos that focus on some of the Midwest finesse methods.
For instance, Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas is a Finesse News Network member and avid Midwest finesse angler. On May 3-4, 2012, he published some footage on YouTube about how he uses a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products’ ZinkerZ affixed to a small jig at Table Rock Lake, Missouri. Then on July 28, 2012, he published a two-minute YouTube piece, featuring his daughter catching a smallmouth bass on the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig at Table Rock.
Reeves’ YouTube videos and his contributions to FNN and Ozark Anglers.com have spawned a goodly number of converts in the Ozark region to the virtues of using the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig.
Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, is one of them.
Baldridge grew up in the 1950s in northeastern Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Science degree and Oklahoma State University with a Master of Science degree. He is a retired U.S. Army officer and a retired high school Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor.
In a May 19 e-mail, Baldridge described himself as “a flexible, pattern-oriented, experience-driven, power-or-finesse angler who primarily fishes for bass and (better yet) crappie. My fishing methods vary according to the time of year, body of water, water temperature, water clarity, fish activity and advice from intelligent sources. These methods include: finesse plastics, topwater baits, buzz baits, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, bass jigs, float and fly, soft plastics (worms, creature baits, and tubes), drop-shot rigs, vertical spoons, vertical grubs, and a variety of crappie jigs.” He is also a dyed-in-the-wool float tube or belly-boat angler who is passionate about plying small waterways. Unbeknownst to Baldridge, his love for crappie fishing and passion for fishing in a float tube are part of the genesis of Midwest finesse fishing, which the late Chuck Woods and late Ray Fincke, both of Kansas City, pioneered in the 1950s and 1960s.
Of course, Woods’ original float tube or belly boat was a makeshift creation made from a well-used inner tube that was fitted with a crude plywood seat. Nowadays, Baldridge uses either a Classic Accessories Cumberland float tube or a Classic Accessories Roanoke eight-foot Pontoon/Kick Boat. Both are state-of-the-art devices, which would provoke Woods to shake his head in amazement.
He said. “I joined the YouTube craze in 2007 to share video adventures with family and friends.” Subsequently, he began to focus on fishing, and he said my “angling-related videos are intended to tell stories, in an honorable, family-friendly and entertaining way.” Their purposes are twofold. One of the aims is to show average anglers how they can become better anglers. The second purpose is to reveal how lures and other types of tackle “actually perform in ‘real-world’ situations.”
April 6 was Baldridge’s maiden outing with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ, which he rigged on one of Dave Reeves’ 1/16-ounce jigs. He digitally recorded and created a YouTube video that featured that outing, and it was published on April 12.
After that initial video, he published one on May 3, and another one on May 17. His May 17 video features him wielding a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig and fishing on his kick boat. He has also produced a YouTube production that focuses on wacky rigs, and another one about using grubs to catch black bass and primarily crappie.
In passing, Reeves mentions Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ in his May 3, 2012, video, but his videos feature only the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. There are, however, a lot more lures in the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers than the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and Finesse ShadZ.
One of those is a tiny hair jig, which can be graced with a small trailer, and King featured a 1/8-ounce bucktail jig attached to a trimmed Uncle Josh 101 Spinning Frog in “The Bass Pros TV” show.
Besides Kings’ contribution, Brain Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, and Big Bass Indiana, produced and published a YouTube video on Dec. 4, 2013, entitled “Fishing the Hair Jig (‘Sissy Jig’) in Winter.” It features Waldman’s way of wielding a 1/16-ounce hair jig and catching vast numbers of largemouth bass.
A small tube, such as a Bass Pro Shops Bass Teaser Tube or a Strike King Lure Company’s Bitsy Tube, is another soft-plastic bait that has played a significant role in Midwest finesse tactics across the years. And King came to northeastern Kansas on Sept. 24 and 25, 2013, and at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, we helped him created a “Fishin’ in Five” segment for “The Bass Pros TV” show about catching smallmouth bass on a tube. And across those two days, 166 smallmouth bass were caught. King’s work was broadcasted in episode 11. It can be seen by viewing the 2014 DVD edition of “The Bass Pros Seasons.”
Other than Baldridge, King, Reeves, and Waldman’s video work with a Finesse ShadZ, grub, hair jig, tube, wacky rigs, and ZinkerZ, we do not know of any other videos that focus on the other lures that Midwest finesse anglers use. Those lures are Gene Larew Lures’ Baby Hoodaddy; Gene Larew Lures’ Long John Minnow; Strike King Lure Company’s four-inch Super Finesse Worm; Strike King’s seven-inch Super Finesse Worm; Strike King’s Zero;
Z-Man’s Finesse WormZ; Z-Man’s Hula StickZ; Z-Man’s MinnowZ, Z-Man’s Rain MinnowZ; Z-Man’s 3.75-inch StreakerZ ; and Zoom Bait Company’s Mini Lizard.
Singled-tailed grubs, such as Bass Pro Shops XPS Single Tail Grub, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ Single Tail Grub, Pure Fishing’s Berkley PowerBait Power Grub, and Kalin’s Lunker Grub, have been featured in scores of various kinds of videos, but we could not find one that focused on the way most Midwest finesse anglers use these grubs.
In essence, Baldridge, King, Reeves, Waldman, and scores of other Midwest finesse devotees have a lot of other baits to focus their cameras upon. We have heard that Z-Man has plans to work on a Midwest finesse video this fall, and when and if it is available, we will tell anglers in one of these In-Fisherman’s Midwest Finesse columns when and where it can be seen. And if there are videos that we failed to note in this column, please tell us about them in the comment section below.
(1) None of these videos have focused on the six basic Midwest finesse retrieves. At this time, it might be an impossible task to create a video that examines how, when, and where to employ them. The best we can do is to refer anglers to In-Fisherman’s Midwest finesse column that describes how we employ the six retrieves at http://www.in-fisherman.com/2014/03/05/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/. Also our monthly guides to Midwest finesse fishing provide details about how, when, and where these retrieves were employed.
Baldridge agrees with this assessment too, saying: “After reading some of the articles on the Finesse News network about the various retrieves, I’d already given some thought about the logistics involved in, as well as the efficacy of, making a retrieve-technique focused video.
“It seemed a bridge too far (for me) because a visual description of the various retrieves would be designed to show the action imparted to the various rigs. Crystal clear water and an underwater camera (and scuba diver) might be able to capture what the written narrative suggests, but the effort seems intensive. After reading about the retrieves, I’m pretty sure most anglers get it and can hop, drag, swim, dead stick, etc. with little difficulty.”
(2) Here are the links to Don Baldridge’s YouTube productions mentioned above:
(3) Brian Waldman’s video can be seen at this link: http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHQ-94nHvDQ.
Here are two links to In-Fisherman’s Midwest Finesse columns that feature Waldman’s hair jig perspectives:
Here is the link to Waldman’s Big Indiana Bass website: http://www.bigindianabass.com
(4) Here are the links to Dave Reeves’ YouTube productions:
This is the link to Reeve’s YouTube channel:
Here is a link to an In-Fisherman’s Midwest Finesse column that features Reeves Midwest finesse methods at Table Rock Lake:
(5) Here are some links to stories that feature some of Stacey King’s Midwest finesse methods: