May 20, 2019
By Ned Kehde
Pete Wenners of Galena, Missouri, has been a Midwest finesse devotee since 2011. During this spell, he suspects that he has used nearly every mushroom-style jig known to mankind, as well as scores of other styles of finesse jigs. He has used these many jigs to employ one of the standard Midwest finesse rigs, which is a 2 1/2- to three-inch soft-plastic stick-style bait. To create this rig, he primarily uses a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Zero, which is five inches long, and he creates two of them by cutting the Zero in half.
Wenners is a renowned fishing guide at Table Rock Lake, which lies along the Arkansas and Missouri border. He also competes in regional bass tournaments.
During his formative years as a Midwest finesse angler, he never found a jighead that he liked.
The underwater terrain of Table Rock Lake consists of quagmires of rocks, boulders, and submerged trees, which the black bass abide around many days of the year. Wenners and the anglers he guides struggled mightily to keep their Midwest finesse rigs from becoming snagged in the crevices of the rocks and boulders and in the limbs of the submerged trees.
This perpetual and perplexing dilemma persisted until Wenners, with the guidance and insights of Brian Snowden of Reeds Spring, Missouri, and Bobby Albert of Springfield, Missouri, created the Five Fish Lures’ Ultimate Ned Jig.
During a telephone conversation on May 14, Wenners noted that history has shown that a Texas-rigged plastic worm adorned with a somewhat pyramid-shaped slip sinker is the most snag-free rig to employ at Table Rock Lake. And for about three years, Wenners, Snowden, and Albert worked on creating a jig that would replicate the snagless features of the slip-sinker rig.
Therefore, the head of the Ultimate Ned Jig is somewhat pyramid shaped. It is manufactured for Five Fish Lures by KG Enterprises of Midway, Arkansas. KG Enterprises also manufactures Jewel Baits, which have been a standard-bearer for black bass anglers in the Ozarks for decades.
The Ultimate Ned Jig is manufactured in three sizes: 1/8-, 3/16-, and 1/4-ounce models.
Wenners is hoping that a 1/16-ounce model will be in the offing. From his nine years of employing Midwest finesse tactics, he realizes that a 1/16-ounce Ultimate Ned Jig will allow Midwest finesse anglers to more easily execute the critical no-feel element that lies at the heart of their six standard retrieves and slight variations of those retrieves. But he notes that most anglers want to feel their rigs all the time; in fact, they absolutely cannot tolerate the no-feel presentation.
According to Wenners, one of the unique features of the Ultimate Ned Jig is that it spirals as it plummets towards the bottom when it is affixed to a 2 1/2-inch Zero, and this spiraling action seems to catch the attention of the black bass more readily than the way that a 2 1/2-inch Zero and a mushroom-jig plummets to the bottom. Wenners readily admits, however, that he did not design it to have this spiral; he described as being a twist of fate.
The head and its collar is affixed to a black-nickel 1/0 Mustad 32786 with a 60-degree bend and a flat eye. (It is interesting to note that Wenners dreams about finding a hook with a 30-degree bend.) The size of the 1/0 hook is larger than the ones that Midwest finesse anglers have traditionally used. One of the reasons for this change stems from the fact that more and more power anglers are occasionally employing Midwest finesse methods, and they are psychologically uncomfortable using the small and light-wire hooks that adorned the old-fashioned mushroom-style jig.
From the tip of its head to the bend of the hook, the Ultimate Ned Jig is about 1 1/4 inches long.
The head of the 1/8-ounce Ultimate Ned Jig is a quarter of an inch long. The back of the head, near its junction with its collar, is about five-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/8 inches. The tip of the head has a width of about one-eighth of an inch and circumference of about seven-eighths of an inch.
On the top of the head, the eye of the hook emerges about five-sixteenths of an inch from the back of the head. A soft-wire weed guard is situated about a quarter of an inch behind the eye of the hook.
This weed guard is about seven-eighths of an inch long. Wenners notes that this wire weed guard will not unravel, which is a problem that afflicts many wire weed guards. What’s more, it can be easily removed by employing diagonal cutting pliers, and those pliers can be used to shorten it a tad. For years, Wenners never used a weed guard on the standard Midwest finesse rig, but nowadays he is using it more often than he used to use it.
The Ultimate Ned Jig's collar is a quarter of an inch long, and it is graced with a cone-shaped bait keeper. When Wenners affixes a soft-plastic bait that is made with a substance called ElaZtech, such as the 2 1/2-inch Zero or Z-Man Fishing Products’ 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, he will affix those baits to the jig’s collar by using a drop of super-style glue, and those baits will stay affixed on the Ultimate Ned Jig for a day or two and scores of donnybrooks with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. If he is working a soft-plastic bait that is made with plastisol, he does not use glue to affix it to the jig. Once the plastisol bait becomes tattered and torn, which can occur after catching one or two black bass, he quickly affixes a new one onto the jig.
Wenner says that he has a Midwest finesse rig at the ready on every outing he makes from January 1 to December 31. He works with it on a spinning rod and reel spooled with six-pound-test monofilament line. The 1/8-ounce Ultimate Ned Jig will allow him to ply lairs that are situated in 20 feet of water. If he has to ply deeper lairs, he will opt for either the 3/16- or 1/4-ounce models.
Like most Midwest finesse anglers, Wenners has expanded his repertoire beyond just a 2 1/2-inch soft-plastic stick-style bait, such as the Zero or ZinkerZ. For instance, he and Snowden are frequently affixing a typical drop-shot-size soft-plastic worm, such as a four-inch ring worm, to the Ultimate Ned Jig rather than a drop-shot rig when they are plying submerged trees in deep water to inveigle Table Rock Lake’s black bass. In addition to a finesse worm, he also works with finesse-size curly-tailed grubs, swimbaits, crayfishes, and creature baits.
The Ultimate Ned Jig is gradually replacing the shaky-head jig in Wenners’ cache of tactics for inveigling black bass.
The head and collar of the jig are painted with a hue that Wenners describes as crustacean brown.
A package of eight 1/8-ounce Ultimate Ned Jigs costs $9.49. They can be purchased by calling Sportsman Factory Outlet in Springfield, Missouri, at 417-881-1635.
(1) Here are links to Pete Wenners’ website and Facebook pages: https://www.hookedonbass.com/; https://www.facebook.com/pete.wenners.
(2) Here are links to Five Fish Lures’ website: https://5fishlures.com/ultimate-ned-head/
(3) Wenners is an advocate of a no-feel retrieve. Here is the link to the Midwest Finesse column that explains how Midwest finesse anglers integrate the no-feel retrieve with the six standard retrieves: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/153946.
(4) Wenners’ Ultimate Ned Jig is a jig for the new generation of Midwest finesse anglers. The photograph below is a sample of the various rigs that these newcomers can use with Wenners’ jig. The rig on the left is a 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin Zero it is Wenners’ favorite. The second one is a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ. The third one is Lunker City Fishing’s green-pumpkin Pudgie. The fourth one is a Z-Man’s green pumpkin TRD BugZ. The fifth one is a Missile Baits’ green-pumpkin-flash Ned Bomb. The sixth one is a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ. The seventh one is a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ. The eighth one is a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ.
Besides these eight rigs, Midwest finesse anglers can affix the Ultimate Ned Jig to a 2.8-inch Keitech’s FAT Swing Impact or a three-inch Z-Man’s Slim SwimZ. What’s more, there are scores of other soft-plastic finesse baits that can be used. For more information about those baits, please examine the archives section of our Midwest Finesse column at https://www.in-fisherman.com/listing/learn-midwest-finesse/83225