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Midwest Finesse Gear & Accessories Lures

The Mighty ZinkerZ

by Ned Kehde   |  April 27th, 2013 3

On April 4, 2012, we wrote a blog entitled “The super finesse worm.” It featured a four-inch Z-Man’s Fishing Products’ Junebug Finesse WormZ that was affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig. We noted that this combo inveigled 102 largemouth bass, seven crappie, one bluegill and tangled with about two dozen largemouth bass that didn’t make it into the boat during a total of five hours of fishing on Mar. 26 and 27. That Finesse WormZ finally disintegrated in the jaws of largemouth number 102, which weighed three pounds, 10 ounces. We categorized it as a super feat in both durability and seductivity.
Then on May 3, 2012, we wrote a blog about another four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ and a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Mushroom Head Jig that possessed the wherewithal to catch 181 largemouth bass before it became too tattered to use. Then we retired it to hang on one of our walls like a trophy for several months.
Since Oct. 12, 2006, we have trumpeted the alluring qualities of Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and its sister the Strike King Lure Company’s 2 1/2-inch Zero, but we have never documented its durability.
This spring, however, we have accumulated a few statistics that bespeak of the durability, as well as the seductive nature, of the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. On April 15 and 16, I fished five hours at a 195-acre community reservoir, and on April 19, I fished four hours at a 416-acre community reservoir. Both are flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. During those nine hours, I employed a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ in the California-craw hue that was affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This combo caught 99 largemouth bass, three rainbow trout and a smallmouth bass that weighed six pounds, 10 ounces.

 

After those two outings, this ZinkerZ looked as if it could entice and tangle with many more largemouth bass before it becomes too shredded to be usable. We have noted in previous blogs that the ZinkerZ becomes more alluring as it ages. Thus, the longer that an angler keeps a well-used ZinkerZ on a jig, the more effective it becomes. In fact, the 87th fish that this particular ZinkerZ allured was a six-pound, 10-ounce smallmouth bass.

 

On April 22, this California-craw ZinkerZ caught 29 more fish (one smallmouth bass, two freshwater drum, two rainbow trout and 24 largemouth bass) before the sharp jaws of a rainbow trout lacerated it to the point that it had to be retired and placed as a lure of honor on one of our walls, where it will be displayed for a spell.

This is what the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ looked like after endured donnybrooks with 104 fish, including a four-pound rainbow trout and a six-pound, 10-ounce smallmout bass.

This is what the 2 1/2-inch California-craw ZinkerZ looked like after it inveigled its 133rd fish, which was a two-pound rainbow trout.

Endnotes:
(1) The ZinkerZ is a five-inch Senko-style bait, and  Midwest finesse anglers customize it by cutting it in half, making 2 1/2-inches long. We always affix it to a jig, such as Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head Jig, and such a combo is featured in the above photograph.
(2)  To keep the ZinkerZ from sliding down the shank of the jig’s hook, some Midwest Finesse anglers like to use a super glue to attach the ZinkerZ to the collar of the jig.  Recently some Midwest anglers have been making mushroom-style jigs that are endowed with a bait keeper on the hook shank, and the bait keeper keeps the ZinkerZ flush to the head of the jig. For more information about glues and bait keepers, see this blog: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/07/15/finesse-news-network-gear-guide-super-glue-bait-hitch-barb-wire-collars-and-more/
(3) Some anglers say that they have a difficult time threading the ZinkerZ — as well as Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ, Finesse WormZ, and Hula StickZ — onto the collar of the Gopher jig. To expedite this threading procedure, we wet the jig by dipping it into the water for a second or two. The water is a lubricant and allows the ZinkerZ  to slide onto the collar of the Gopher jig.
(4) Anglers who have a frugal nature are  impressed with the economical dimensions of the ZinkerZ. A package of six five-inch ZinkerZs, which equals 12 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, can be purchased for $3.99.  And it is possible that  an angler can catch more than 1,236 largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass with that package of ZinkerZ.  From our experiences, the ZinkerZ is  not only many times more durable  than similar  soft-plastic Senko-style baits, but they seem to be more alluring in the eyes on largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. Moreover, the ZinkerZ is not as expensive. For example, if an angler purchases a package of 10 five-inch of  Senko-style baits, which costs $7.69, this angler will be fortunate to catch 70 largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass with those 20 2 1/2-inch baits before all of the baits disintergrate, and there will be times when each 2 1/2-inch bait will catch only one or two bass.

  • Travis Swift

    if you caught a 6 pound 10 ounce smallmouth in kansas that would be the state record. did you not want the lake to get the notoritiy or did you not think about turning it in at the time? I’m suprised no one has caught onto this yet. It’s your fish and your choice i was just curious is all. Congrats on a giant smallie! You should post a picture of that beautiful fish!

    • Ned Kehde

      Travis:
      Thanks for posting your comments on the ZinkerZ blog. Posted below is the log that describes the outing that I caught that big smallmouth bass. Please keep in touch, Ned

      On April 16, the National Weather Service said that Old Man Winter might whack us with some snow during the night of April 18. To our delight, that did not occur, but at 7:30 a.m. on April 19, we had a skim of ice on our bird bath, and the thermometer at the National Weather Service site at the Lawrence, Kansas, Municipal Airport registered 32 degrees, which was the low temperature for the day, but it might have been colder in our garden than 32 degrees to cause ice to form on the water in the bird bath. By 3 p.m. the high temperature hit 52 degrees. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a chilly wind angled out of the west and northwest at 17 to 26 mph. The barometric pressure around 10 a.m. was 30.01 and rising. For the first hour or so it was sunny, and then it became partly cloudy.

      I fished from 10:05 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. It was cold enough that I wore gloves for the first 30 minutes, and my bald head was crowned with a stocking cap for the entire four hours of this outing to a 216-acre community resevoir. Besides gloves and a stocking cap, I wore most of my basic winter wardrobe the entire time, and it felt good to be dressed that way.

      The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 49 degrees. I could clearly see the propeller on the trolling motor, which indicated that water clarity was what we call Kansas clear. I spent several minutes using a ruler to measure the water level, and I determined that it was 31 inches below normal.

      The In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that best fishing occurred from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

      Because the wind was howling out of the west, I spent the entire four hours plying the west side of this reservoir. I focused on one cove, two rocky main-lake shorelines, two long main-lake bluffs, several main-lake points, and 200 feet of the west end of the dam.

      I had six spinning rods rigged, but I used only three of them. I made about two dozen casts and retrieves with a radically customized California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which failed to elicit a strike. The combo that I used the most was a 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it caught 44 of the largemouth bass, three of the rainbow trout and the only smallmouth bass. A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 12 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout.

      For most of the winter and the first two weeks or so of spring the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ was my most fruitful bait. The green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ was the second most fruitful. But recently the 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ has become the most productive bait, and, in fact, during the past three outings on April 15, 16, and 19, it has inveigled 99 largemouth bass, three rainbow trout and one smallmouth bass. (We need to emphasize that the same ZinkerZ caught those 103 fish, and after the April 19 outing, it looked a little tattered, but it looks that it has the wherewithal to catch many more fish before it becomes too tattered to keep affixed to the Gopher jig, and needs to be noted that it has not been attached to the jig with glue or a bait-keeper devices.)

      I caught 17 largemouth bass along one of the rocky shorelines in the upper third of the reservoir. I caught 13 largemouth bass and three of the rainbow trout along one of the main-lake bluffs in the upper quarter of the reservoir. I caught seven of the largemouth bass in the one cove that I fished. I caught eight largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass along one of the main-lake bluffs in the lower third of the reservoir. Along a rocky shoreline line near the dam and the west end of the dam, I caught 11 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout.

      All of the largemouth bass were small. The rainbow trout were fairly nice ones, ranging in size from two to four pounds. Across my many decades of bass fishing, I have never possessed the ability to catch lunker-sized largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. In sum, I am a numbers angler rather than a lunker angler. But on this outing at 12:30 p.m., I caught a humongous smallmouth bass. It was the biggest smallmouth bass that I have ever seen and touched, and before I released it, I carefully weighed it with my Rapala scale, which indicated that it weighed six pounds, 10 ounces. This was a solo outing, and I didn’t have a camera to document it, but its image will remain indelibly in my mind’s eye forevermore. It was an amazing sight. It was the fattest smallmouth I had ever seen, looking even fatter and more handsome than of some of the great photographs of giant-sized Lake Erie smallmouth bass that I have seen. In retrospect, I wish that I would have measured its girth and length, but at the time, I was eager to get back into the reservoir after I have carefully weighed it.

      It had to be near the end of its life, and in all likelihood it would likely die this summer. But it was so rotund and healthy — such an incredible beast — that I wanted it to spawn one more time, hoping that it would pass its Goliath genes to another generation smallmouth bass that reside in this 416-acre reservoir. Therefore, I handled it as careful as I could before I released it.

      Since catching and weighing that smallmouth bass, I have calibrated the Rapala scale, and it indicated that a seven-pound piece of lead weighed six-pounds, 15-ounces. On the water, the Rapala scale initially indicated that the smallmouth bass weighed six pounds, 13 pounds, but then I checked it two more times, and both times, it registered six pounds, 10 ounces. The state record smallmouth bass is 6.88 pounds; so it didn’t measure up to the record.

      About 15 of the largemouth bass engulfed the ZinkerZ and Finesse ShadZ on the initial drop. The rest of the fish were allured by two retrieve styles: the swim, glide and shake and the drag and shake. The fish were caught in two to eight feet of water. The big smallmouth was caught in six to eight feet on a slow drag-and-shake retrieve while the boat was floating in 15 feet of water.

      After doing battle with a fiesty four-pound rainbow trout at 11:55 a.m., which was a donnybrook indeed, I initially thought that this big smallmouth was just a big drum. Then when I saw it, I was astonished, and as it approached the boat, it fought more vigorously than it did when it was on and near the bottom, but it didn’t equal the spunk of that four-pound rainbow trout.

      It was nice, as well as amazing, to catch that big smallmouth bass. Yet I must readily admit that it was an accident or an inadvertent catch because I was trying to catch 25 bass an hour and not thinking about tangling with a big one. That was the 48th fish of the outing, and shortly before I caught it at 12:30 p.m., I was wondering where the smallmouth bass where, and I am still wondering. After catching that brute, I spent the next hour and a half fishing a tad deeper and slower in hopes of crossing paths with some more smallmouth bass, but I caught only 14 small largemouth bass.

      Even after enjoying that encounter with that phenomenal smallmouth bass, I still prefer catching 100 bass to catching a lunker. Now I want to relish a half dozen outings when I catch 101 largemouth bass in four hours, and perhaps every once in a great while, I can do battle with a four- to five-pound largemouth bass.

    • nkehde

      Travis:
      Thanks for posting your comments on the ZinkerZ blog. Posted below is the log that describes the outing that I caught that big smallmouth bass. Please keep in touch, Ned

      On April 16, the National Weather Service said that Old Man Winter might whack us with some snow during the night of April 18. To our delight, that did not occur, but at 7:30 a.m. on April 19, we had a skim of ice on our bird bath, and the thermometer at the National Weather Service site at the Lawrence, Kansas, Municipal Airport registered 32 degrees, which was the low temperature for the day, but it might have been colder in our garden than 32 degrees to cause ice to form on the water in the bird bath. By 3 p.m. the high temperature hit 52 degrees. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a chilly wind angled out of the west and northwest at 17 to 26 mph. The barometric pressure around 10 a.m. was 30.01 and rising. For the first hour or so it was sunny, and then it became partly cloudy.

      I fished from 10:05 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. It was cold enough that I wore gloves for the first 30 minutes, and my bald head was crowned with a stocking cap for the entire four hours of this outing to a 216-acre community resevoir. Besides gloves and a stocking cap, I wore most of my basic winter wardrobe the entire time, and it felt good to be dressed that way.

      The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 49 degrees. I could clearly see the propeller on the trolling motor, which indicated that water clarity was what we call Kansas clear. I spent several minutes using a ruler to measure the water level, and I determined that it was 31 inches below normal.

      The In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that best fishing occurred from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

      Because the wind was howling out of the west, I spent the entire four hours plying the west side of this reservoir. I focused on one cove, two rocky main-lake shorelines, two long main-lake bluffs, several main-lake points, and 200 feet of the west end of the dam.

      I had six spinning rods rigged, but I used only three of them. I made about two dozen casts and retrieves with a radically customized California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which failed to elicit a strike. The combo that I used the most was a 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it caught 44 of the largemouth bass, three of the rainbow trout and the only smallmouth bass. A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 12 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout.

      For most of the winter and the first two weeks or so of spring the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ was my most fruitful bait. The green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ was the second most fruitful. But recently the 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ has become the most productive bait, and, in fact, during the past three outings on April 15, 16, and 19, it has inveigled 99 largemouth bass, three rainbow trout and one smallmouth bass. (We need to emphasize that the same ZinkerZ caught those 103 fish, and after the April 19 outing, it looked a little tattered, but it looks that it has the wherewithal to catch many more fish before it becomes too tattered to keep affixed to the Gopher jig, and needs to be noted that it has not been attached to the jig with glue or a bait-keeper devices.)

      I caught 17 largemouth bass along one of the rocky shorelines in the upper third of the reservoir. I caught 13 largemouth bass and three of the rainbow trout along one of the main-lake bluffs in the upper quarter of the reservoir. I caught seven of the largemouth bass in the one cove that I fished. I caught eight largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass along one of the main-lake bluffs in the lower third of the reservoir. Along a rocky shoreline line near the dam and the west end of the dam, I caught 11 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout.

      All of the largemouth bass were small. The rainbow trout were fairly nice ones, ranging in size from two to four pounds. Across my many decades of bass fishing, I have never possessed the ability to catch lunker-sized largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. In sum, I am a numbers angler rather than a lunker angler. But on this outing at 12:30 p.m., I caught a humongous smallmouth bass. It was the biggest smallmouth bass that I have ever seen and touched, and before I released it, I carefully weighed it with my Rapala scale, which indicated that it weighed six pounds, 10 ounces. This was a solo outing, and I didn’t have a camera to document it, but its image will remain indelibly in my mind’s eye forevermore. It was an amazing sight. It was the fattest smallmouth I had ever seen, looking even fatter and more handsome than of some of the great photographs of giant-sized Lake Erie smallmouth bass that I have seen. In retrospect, I wish that I would have measured its girth and length, but at the time, I was eager to get back into the reservoir after I have carefully weighed it.

      It had to be near the end of its life, and in all likelihood it would likely die this summer. But it was so rotund and healthy — such an incredible beast — that I wanted it to spawn one more time, hoping that it would pass its Goliath genes to another generation smallmouth bass that reside in this 416-acre reservoir. Therefore, I handled it as careful as I could before I released it.

      Since catching and weighing that smallmouth bass, I have calibrated the Rapala scale, and it indicated that a seven-pound piece of lead weighed six-pounds, 15-ounces. On the water, the Rapala scale initially indicated that the smallmouth bass weighed six pounds, 13 pounds, but then I checked it two more times, and both times, it registered six pounds, 10 ounces. The state record smallmouth bass is 6.88 pounds; so it didn’t measure up to the record.

      About 15 of the largemouth bass engulfed the ZinkerZ and Finesse ShadZ on the initial drop. The rest of the fish were allured by two retrieve styles: the swim, glide and shake and the drag and shake. The fish were caught in two to eight feet of water. The big smallmouth was caught in six to eight feet on a slow drag-and-shake retrieve while the boat was floating in 15 feet of water.

      After doing battle with a fiesty four-pound rainbow trout at 11:55 a.m., which was a donnybrook indeed, I initially thought that this big smallmouth was just a big drum. Then when I saw it, I was astonished, and as it approached the boat, it fought more vigorously than it did when it was on and near the bottom, but it didn’t equal the spunk of that four-pound rainbow trout.

      It was nice, as well as amazing, to catch that big smallmouth bass. Yet I must readily admit that it was an accident or an inadvertent catch because I was trying to catch 25 bass an hour and not thinking about tangling with a big one. That was the 48th fish of the outing, and shortly before I caught it at 12:30 p.m., I was wondering where the smallmouth bass where, and I am still wondering. After catching that brute, I spent the next hour and a half fishing a tad deeper and slower in hopes of crossing paths with some more smallmouth bass, but I caught only 14 small largemouth bass.

      Even after enjoying that encounter with that phenomenal smallmouth bass, I still prefer catching 100 bass to catching a lunker. Now I want to relish a half dozen outings when I catch 101 largemouth bass in four hours, and perhaps every once in a great while, I can do battle with a four- to five-pound largemouth bass.

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