To the delight of scores of Midwest finesse anglers, Z-Man Fishing Products has added a new bait to their repertoire.
It is the Hula StickZ.
In the eyes of several Midwest finesse anglers who have seen and worked with a prototype of the Hula StickZ, they say that it is destined to become significant lynch pin in finesse anglers' repertoire everywhere, as well as for all anglers who employ soft-plastic Senko- or stick-style baits.
Drew Reese, who was tutored by the late and great Chuck Woods of Kansas City in the 1960s, helped Z-Man design this new ElaZtech bait. Reese's motivation stemmed from his desire to add another dimension or two to Z-Man's five-inch ZinkerZ, which Midwest finesse anglers cut in half and create a 2 1/2-inch soft-plastic stick bait that they always affixed to a jig.
Reese calls the Hula StickZ a three-inch ZinkerZ that is adorned with four one-inch tentacles, which makes it a four-inch bait. But it isn't as heavily impregnated with salt as the ZinkerZ. Its salt content is 15 percent; the salt content of the ZinkerZ is 45 percent. Therefore, it is a touch more buoyant than the ZinkerZ, and according to numerous Midwest finesse anglers, the buoyancy factor is one reason why ElaZtech baits are the best finesse baits in the angling world. (To make the salt-impregnated ZinkerZ more buoyant and alluring, many Midwest finesse anglers soak them in water, which dissolves the salt and makes them more buoyant and flexible. )
The Hula StickZ is also an extremely durable bait. For example, I have been working with six prototypes since Jan. 24, and I am still using four of them. I lost one when it became snagged in a man-made brushpile, and I lost another one that was snagged in maze of underwater boulders. To my chagrin, I failed to tabulate the exact number of largemouth and smallmouth bass that these six prototypes betwitched and are still bewitching, but they have tangled with scores and scores bass and other species.
Reese and Z-Man designed the Hula StickZ so that it can be easily customized. For instance, the four tentacles can be trimmed off, which will convert it to a three-inch stick bait. Or it can be shortened by trimming an inch or more off its head, which converts it to hard-body tube bait. An example of one of the customized prototypes is featured in the photograph below. This one has an inch taken off its head, and this particular bait has allured at least 60 largemouth and smallmouth bass, and it looks as if it possesses the wherewithal to allure at least 60 more.
The Hula StickZ can also be affixed to the jig so that the four tentacles surround the collar of the jig. Reese doesn't rig it that way, but I have found it to be an effective option on a number of outings. That rigging is exhibited in the photograph below.
Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, is one of the forefathers of the Midwest finesse fishing, but it wasn't until April 30, 2011, that he discovered the manifold virtues of some of Z-Man's finesse bait. Then once he began wielding the Finesse ShadZ, 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, 3.75-inch StreakZ and Hula StickZ, they have become the only soft-plastic baits that he employs.
Nowadays, Reese chases smallmouth bass in Canadian waterways from mid-May to mid-September.
Reese affixes the Hula StickZ to a mushroom-style jig, which he makes, and the hook is always exposed His jig repertoire consist of 1/32-, 1/16-, 3/32- and 1/8-ounce models. Day in, day out, however, he prefers to use a 3/32-ounce jig in Canadian waterways. He finds that a 3/32- ounce jig allows him to cover more water, make longer casts, and feel what the lure is doing.
In contrast to Reese's Canadian tactics for smallmouth bass, the Midwest finesse anglers who ply the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas prefer to use 1/32- and 1/16-ounce jigs. They like to make short casts and not feel what their bait is doing. It is a tactic that they call no-feel fishing. Yet there are short spells throughout the year when a 3/32-ounce jig is the most effective one in northeastern Kansas waterways -- especially when the largemouth and smallmouth bass are foraging upon invertebrates on the bottom or the wind is howling. But day in, day out, they have found that the largemouth and smallmouth bass that abide in the relatively stained flatland reservoirs of Kansas are rarely allured by a soft-plastic bait that falls at a quick pace.
Reese presents the Hula StickZ by executing a long cast, and his retrieve consist of three segments. The first part of the retrieve replicates a frightened crayfish, the second part resembles a crayfish that is milling about across the bottom, and the third part duplicates the way a crayfish roots around on the bottom.into shallow water.
Reese glues his Hula StickZ and other Z-Man finesse baits to the jig, and he prefers to use an unpainted jig. But in crystal clear waters, he will match the color of the jig to the color of the Hula StickZ. He also notes that jigs painted watermelon red or watermelon black seem to be a little better than unpainted jigs on sunny days.
On July 8, Reese relished a sample of the Hula StickZ's abilities to bewitch Canadian smallmouth bass. In four hours, a watermelon-red and a green-pumpkin Hula StickZ inveigled 44 smallmouth bass. Two of those weighed more than three pounds, and another weighed four pounds, two ounces, which executed four spectacular aerobic jumps.
Other finesse anglers can employ it on Neko rigs, split-shot rigs and drop-shot rigs, and power anglers can wield it on Carolina rigs and a variety of Texas rigs.
According to the folks at Z-Man, anglers will be able acquire Hula StickZ around Sept. l. It will be available in eight colors. The suggested retail price for a package of six baits is $4.49