Finesse News Networks' Gear Guide: a hook guard update

On May 4, we posted a blog entitled "Finesse News Networks' Gear Guide: Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard for Weedless Lures."  It featured a hook guard that Midwest finesse anglers could use on Gopher Tackle's 1/16-ounce Mushroom Head Jig.

In that blog, we noted that Gopher Tackle's 1/16-ounce jig with a No.4 hook  is the standard-bearer in our finesse tactics, and we have learned to use it without a hook guard. But as the Finesse News Network has grown, more and more finesse anglers say that they are fishing waterways where a weed guard is essential.

Thus, for the past several days we have been thinking about hook guards for finesse jigs.

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri, and Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, have crafted some effective hook guards on their homemade mushroom style jigs. Their creative handiwork has solved their hook guard woes.

But not every Midwest finesse angler has the time and skill to spend on handcrafting jigs with hook guards. Therefore, we suggested that these anglers could work with Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard for Weedless Lures.  And here is another alternative when Midwest finesse anglers use Z-Man Fishing Products' Hula StickZ.

The Hula StickZ, which was designed by Drew Reese in 2011, is affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig so that its tentacles are on the collar of the jig, and one of its tentacles is employed as a hook guard.  This combo is 3 1/8-inches long, and it can be shortened by trimming a half of an inch or so off of its tail.

For several years, Dave Schmidltein of Topeka, Kansas, who is a stellar crappie angler, has been customizing a tube from Z-Man's ZinkerZ.  After he shortens the ZinkerZ by cutting it into halves or thirds. And before he affixes it to a crappie jig, he creates several tentacles in one end of the ZinkerZ. After tentacles are created, he affixes the ZinkerZ to the jig with the tentacles on the collar, and he uses one of the tentacles as a hook guard. This tactic allows him to probe man-made brush piles and flooded timber without becoming snagged. What's more, the hook guard does not inhibit the hook from penetrating the flesh of a crappie's mouth.

In addition, tentacles can be sliced or cut on both ends of the ZinkerZ, as well as on the other end of the Hula StickZ.

Lure customization lies at the heart of Midwest finesse fishing. For example, the late and great Chuck Woods of Kansas, who was the father of Midwest finesse fishing, spent countless hours customizing lures, which is how he created the Beetle, Beetle Spin Puddle Jumper and scores of other lures. We would like to read about how other finesse anglers customized their lures. So, please post your methods in the comment section below.

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