Brian Schmidt of Broomfield, Colorado, is the proprietor of Brian Schmidt Baits, and for several weeks in May, we corresponded frequently about his life as an angler, his business, and one of his jigs.
He was born in 1975 in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. His father worked at Three Mile Island. His piscatorial baptism took place along the banks of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries. When he was eight years old the family moved to Philadelphia, where they had a stream in their yard, and the Schuylkill River was close enough that he could ride his bicycle to it. From then on, he spent a significant part of his childhood fishing. When he was able to drive, he would trek back to the Susquehanna and explored the river’s upstream and headwater environs. In due course, he fell head-over-heals in love with the smallmouth bass, and said: “I love largemouth and their nuances, but smallmouth are like little wet people...I find their attitudes intriguing.” He taught himself how to tie flies, and he is now lauded by several knowledgeable observers as being a master fly tyer. He is the only angler in his family.
He moved from Pennsylvania to Kansas City, Missouri, in 2001. After living in Kansas City for a year, he moved to Colorado, and except for what he called a long trip to Nashville, Tennessee, he has been a Colorado resident for about 18 years.
In regard to his tackle business, he described his company as a cottage industry, calling it “a one-man show, from pouring to packaging every day.”
And his mastery at fly tying plays a major role in daily duties. He light-heartedly said he was no stranger at spending too many hours with his Renetta fly-tying vise.
He is also a fishing guide.
Across the years, he has hand-poured, tied, and sold a variety of black-bass jigs. Some are skirted with bucktail. Some are skirted with marabou. He noted that his marabou jigs are similar to the ones used by Jeff Gustafson of Kenova, Ontario, Canada, Seth Feider of Bloomington, Minnesota, and Josh Douglas of Mound, Minnesota, which were featured in three Midwest Finesse columns in 2017.
Most of our correspondence revolved around his Ned Dred, which is a mushroom-style jig with a simple and unique skirt that is adorned with what he called a blend of natural and synthetic materials.
From his perspective, his work as a guide and fly tier provided him with “the experiences that warranted the efforts” to design and manufacture this state-of-the-art jig.
Many Midwest finesse anglers are captivated by simplicity and uniqueness, and thus, at first sight, we were fascinated by the Ned Dred.
He told us that he created the first Ned Dred in 2014, and he began selling them in 2017.
His motivation to create it centered upon his desire to have a smaller, lighter, and subtler skirted jig than the various hula-style jigs or spider-style jigs that have flooded the tackle world. And he also wanted the skirt to be tied to the shank of the jig’s hook rather than a removable one.
His first renditions were crafted from bucktail and silicone, which he didn’t like.
After the failure of the bucktail version, he was hoping that he could use a combination of marabou feathers and thin strands of silicone as the basis of his state-of-the-art skirt. But to his dismay, the marabou did not work.
Ultimate, he discovered the merits of schlappen, which is a chicken feather that Schmidt describes as being “long, webby feathers that breathe life into any streamer pattern once they begin to billow and undulate underwater.” He found that “it has enough rigidity” as the jig drops from the surface of the water to the bottom, and it “is soft enough to keep a life of its own at rest. Also, it doesn't add any bulk to the bait, just movement,” which he likes to describe as “the blur of life.”
The thin silicone strands are trimmed after he affixes a soft-plastic trailer to the jig. He says that they are trimmed “to the point of no interference.” For example, if the trailer is a worm, the silicone strands can be long. But if the trailer is a crayfish or creature-style bait that are adorned with active appendages, Schmidt cuts the strands of silicone so they are shorter than the tips of the appendages of the trailer.
When Schmidt wades and fishes in streams and rivers, he usually imparts more action and movement to the jig and its trailer than he does in lakes, and to accomplish that movement, he keeps the strands of silicone longer when he is fishing moving waterways than he keeps them when he is fishing in lakes.
He has worked with a variety of soft-plastic trailers. Initially, he used a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ Senko and Roboworm’s FX Series and their FX Sculpin. He has also used NetBaits’ Tiny Paca Chunk. Nowadays, he regularly fishes small lakes and ponds. And he still uses the FX Sculpin and Tiny Paca Chunk, but he also uses a Missile Baits’ Ned Bomb and Z-Man Fishing Products’ Finesse TRD and their Trout Trick.
Many Midwest finesse anglers are wedded to working with 1/16-ounce jigs. Schmidt said that he has tried to manufacture a 1/16-ounce Ned Dred, but it failed to work appropriately for him. Therefore, he sent us a 3/32-ounce Ned Dred to work with and thoroughly examine and describe.
Here is what our examination revealed:
It is graced with a mushroom-style head, which has a diameter of three-eighths of an inch and a circumference of about 1 5/16 inches. The head is painted with a powder paint made by Boss Jig Armor, which is proclaimed to be exceptionally durable.
The head is affixed to a Daiichi 4660 90-degree hook. The size of the hook is a 1/0. It has a black-nickel finish. The distance from the eye of the hook to the apex of its round bend is 1 ¼ inches. The eye of the hook is flat.
Immediately adjacent to the flat back of the mushroom-style jig, the schlappen-feather and silicone skirt is affixed with a kevlar thread that is sealed with a waterproof glue. The skirt consists of 11 thin strands of silicone, which are about 2 3/8 inches long. The schlappen feathers are 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 inches long, and there are about 40 to 50 delicate strands of them.
A wire bait keeper radiates from the head of the jig and it lies parallel to the bottom of the shank of the hook. It is seven-sixteenths of an inch long, and about one-eighth of an inch of the bait keeper is covered by the kevlar thread, silicone strands, and schlappen feathers.
It is available in the following hues: Black/Blue, Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin/Chartreuse, and PBJ.
A package of two costs $4.79.
- Here is the link to Brian Schmidt Baits’ website: https://brianschmidtbaits.com/index.html. His telephone number is 720 272 2805.
- Upon affixing a finesse-size and soft-plastic trailer to the Ned Dred, Midwest finesse anglers will present this rig to their black-bass quarries by employ all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves. Here is the link to the Midwest Finesse column that explains how to execute these retrieves: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/153946.