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Z-ManFishing Product’s 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ for white bass: an update

by Ned Kehde   |  January 22nd, 2013 11

For several years, we have been singing about the  manifold virtues of Z-Man’s Fishing Products’  2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ  and Strike King Lure Company’s Zero. Both are five-inch Senko-style baits that Z-Man manufactures, and we cut them in half, making them 2 1/2-inches long and affix them to a jig, such as a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.

We began using this combo for largemouth bass on Oct. 12, 2006, and since that outing,  it has been one of the primary largemouth and smallmouth bass baits in our Midwest finesse repertoire.

Then its virtues were discovered by anglers  who pursued  species other than black bass. For instance, we  noted in a blog on Oct. 20, 2011, that anglers, such as Dave Schmidtlein of Topeka, Kansas, have found it to be an effective crappie bait. Schmidtlein affixes the 2 1/1-inch ZinkerZ to either an 1/8- or 1/4-ounce homemade jig. On one of the ends of the ZinkerZ, he cuts four tentacles,  and when he attaches it to the jig, the tentacles are positioned on the  jig’s collar and adjacent to the head of the jig. According to Schmidtlein, this rigging allows the bait to fall more slowly and alluringly, making it virtually snag-free around rock-laden lairs. When he is probing brush piles, he affixes the tip of one of the tentacles to the point of the jig’s hook, making it into a weed guard.  (Since the summer of 2012, Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri, has used Z-Man’s new Hula StickZ , which is a ZinkerZ with four factory-made tentacles, to catch astronomical numbers of crappie that abide in the Ozark reservoirs that he regularly fishes. Ward trims two inches off the head of the Hula StickZ  and affixes it on a jig with the tentacles extending from the end of the jig  rather than affixed to the jig’s collar as Schmidtlein does.)

In addition to alluring crappie, the jig and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ combo is what Midwest finesse anglers use when they bass fish for trout in March and bass fish for channel catfish in May.

One of many channel catfish that Midwest finesse anglers catch on a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ.

This is one of many rainbow trout that Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and other Midwest finesse anglers catch on a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. This trout that Desch inveigled has a ZinkerZ lodged in the corner of its mouth.

From fall of 2006 through the fall of 2011,  Midwest finesse anglers inadvertently caught white bass and wipers on a 2 1/2-inch while they were largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing, but they never considered it to be the best bait to allure temperate bass. But during the fall of 2012, the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ became Dave Weroha of Kansas City and Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, most productive white bass bait.

Holscher is a multispecies guide, and throughout the fall of 2012, 19 guide trips of his guide trips were focused on catching white bass.  On these outings, his clients caught 1,117 white bass, and their most effective bait was the  2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig. The two best ZinkerZ colors for Holscher and his clients were either pearl or hot chartreuse.

Weroha fished 11 times.  He and his partners  tangled with 788 white bass, and Weroha’s most productive bait was a watermelon/white 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Dave Weroha caught this white bass on a watermelon/white 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Weroha had success using a split ring on the Gopher jig. The split ring is visible in this photograph.


According to Holscher and Weroha, a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ will play a significant role in their fall  white bass repertoire from now on. Moreover, Holscher is eager to test the ZinkerZ during the  white bass spawning run in the spring of 2013, and if it works, we will post another ZinkerZ update.

Pearl, white and chartreuse are traditional white bass hues. But across the decades, anglers in northeastern Kansas have found that white bass consume a lot of invertebrates. Consequently, Dave Weroha used this green-pumpkin/orange 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ to entice some of the white bass during the fall of 2012.

  • Bill Reichert

    Count me in on the white bass field test. Central Wisconsin white bass are our primary target in April. Bill

    • nkehde

      We are eager to read your reports about catching white bass in central Wisconsin on ZinkerZs.
      Anglers are still talking about your field tests with different colors of Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jigs that were affixed to ZinkerZs.
      For those anglers who have not read Bill's research, please use this link and read his insights:
      Best wishes.

    • Dave Weroha

      Bill, it was a pleasure reading about your field tests with different colors of Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jigs. Looking forward to seeing the white bass field test results.

      • nkehde

        We are also looking forward to reading about your endeavors to catching white bass on the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas in April and early May.
        Best wishes,

  • Nathan Parker

    Dave, what size and brand hooks do you use on your gopher jigs? They look bigger than the one's Ned uses…

    • Ned Kehde

      Dave Weroha of Kansas City is in Arizona and will not see your comments.
      But I think that I can provide an answer.
      Since Jan. 25, Dave has begun to use smaller hooks on his jigs. In fact, he is, at times, using the 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig with a No. 6 hook.
      When he returns, we will ask him to expound about his ideas regarding hook sizes.
      Best wishes,

    • dweroha

      Hi Nathan,
      I'll split this comment into three because it's too long: Nowadays I use a 1/32-ounce #6 Gopher jighead whereas previously I have used a 1/16-ounce #2/0. I was once skeptical of using smaller hooks but I kept my lens neutral as I evaluated the use of lighter and smaller jigheads. I now throw a 1/32-ounce #6 jighead on every outing unless circumstances such as strong wind necessitate using a 1/16-ounce #4 jighead or heavier (3/32-ounce). There are some unique qualities I have observed with a 1/32-ounce #6 jighead:

      • nkehde

        Thanks for posting your experiences with the 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig and No. 6 hook. They parallel my experiences in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas, northern Missouri and natural lakes in Minnesota. We also like small hooks because they don’t injure the bass as frequently as bigger hooks. It is interesting to note that from Jan. 1, 2010 to Feb. 18, 2013, we have caught and released 14,911 largemouth and smallmouth bass, and very few of them have been injured.
        What’s more, a soft-plastic bait looks better in my eyes on a small hook than it does on a big, but who knows if it looks better in the eyes of the largemouth and smallmouth bass. Neverthless, small hooks catch us an average of about nine bass an hour.
        Thanks again for writing and posting your insights,

        • Dave Weroha

          Always a pleasure, Ned. Thank you very much for imparting your wisdom

    • dweroha

      – Catch Rate: No observed reduction in catch rates. Actually, since going lighter, no bass of 17" or larger was lost
      – Hookset Ability: Smaller hooks more effectively pierce the fish's mouth and requires significantly less hookset thrust
      – Presentation: Lure's "backbone" and "tail" retain a fluid motion and it has a more subtle, slower fall
      – Reduced snag rates. However, if you liberate from a snag, check your hook to ensure it is not bent outward.

    • dweroha

      Catch rates, hookset ability, and presentation are three important attributes I look for and using the smaller hooks have satisfied those conditions where I previously thought only larger ones could satisfy them. Due to the size, I suggest regularly checking your hook's condition (i.e. not bent outward). Yesterday in the strip pits I caught a 19", 4 lbs largemouth on a 1/32-ounce #6 Gopher jig. I did not lift with my rod and lure the bass into the boat, however. Instead, I reached down and pulled the bass out of the water.

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