Stretching across many decades, Midwest finesse anglers have customized untold number of soft-plastic baits.
The late Chuck Woods of Kansas City created the two most notable ones: the Beetle and Puddle Jumper. He crafted the first Beetle from a well-worn Creme Scoundrel Worm. He used the tail of an Ensley Reaper to create the first Puddle Jumper.
Nowadays, many Midwest finesse anglers use and customize several of the soft-plastic baits that Z-Man Fishing Products manufactures. These baits are made from a material that Z-Man calls ElaZtech, which is incredibly durable. In fact, several Midwest finesse anglers have reported that these ElaZtech baits are so durable that they have caught more than 100 largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ or four-inch Finesse WormZ or Finesse ShadZ before it disintegrated.
In addition, scores of Midwest finesse anglers proclaim that the ElaZtech baits in their bass-fishing repertoire are the most beguiling soft-plastic baits that they have ever used in their pursuits of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass On the best of days, some of these anglers tangle with as many as 25 largemouth bass an hour. On average, they catch about nine largemouth bass an hour. And more than 90 percent of those black bass are caught on a Z-Man's ElaZtech bait.
Several of the ElaZtech baits that the Midwest finesse anglers employ are customized. For instance, about three-quarters of an inch is usually cut off the head of the Finesse WormZ. The five-inch ZinkerZ is cut in half, making it into a 2 1/2-inch Senko-style bait. Two inches are removed from the head of the Saw Tail WormZ, and the curl is removed from its tail, which makes it a three-inch cut-tail worm (see footnote No. 2 below for a photograph of a customized Saw Tail WormZ). The five-inch FattyZ is cut in half, and a six-tentacle tube is created out of the top segment of the FattyZ. The tail portion of the FattyZ becomes a Senko-style bait, and it is employed on a jig and fished the same way the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ is fished, but it has a different contour than the ZinkerZ, which causes it to undulate differently than the ZinkerZ does during the retrieve. At times, three-quarters of an inch is removed from the head of the Hula StickZ
On Feb. 12, Daniel Nussbaum of Z-Man and Ladson, South Carolina, reported on the Finesse News Network that he had created a three-inch FattyZ by removing the torso of the five-inch FattyZ. Then he used Loctite's Super Glue Gel Professional to affix the head and tail of the FattyZ. He affixes this three-inch rendition to a jig and uses it to catch red fish and sea trout.
Nussbaum's Super-Glue revelations has spawned a new customizing motif among some Midwest finesse anglers. This new phase epitomized with the ZinkerZ tactics of Dave Weroha of Kansas City. The two photographs below display some of the handiwork that Weroha has recently accomplished with a pair of scissors and some Loctite's Super Glue Gel Professional. After Weroha clips and assembles the ZinkerZ, he affixes them on a Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head.
Jolee Myers, who is the Operations Manager at Z-Mans, noted in a Mar. 20 e-mail that
"watermelon and green-pumpkin solid colors will bleed yellow onto pearl-colored Z-Man baits. On some color combinations anglers won't be able to tell if the second part is dark enough, but it will still bleed. Because of the nature of the pigmentation we use to make these colors, there is nothing that can be done to prevent this from happening."
As 2013 continues to unfold, we will post more details about this new phenomenon, and about its effectiveness for inveigling largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.
(1) For more information on the FattyZ and customization see:
(2) The photograph below is the Saw Tail WormZ that Dave Weroha customizes.
(3) During the last week of March, the Finesse News Network has featured the insights of various finesse anglers about the color of soft-plastic baits, and debating if color is an important element in finesse presentations. Perhaps in the weeks to come, we will transcribe and edit many of those insights and comments and post them on this blog site. Until then, we would like readers of this blog to post their observations about how color affects finesse presentations. We would also like to know readers' ideas about the effectiveness of glitter and flakes in soft-plastic baits.