John Crews of Salem, Virginia, is the proprietor of Missile Baits. He has been a professional bass tournament angler since 2002, competing on the top-of-the-line Bassmaster and FLW circuits.
Several years ago, he began to periodically dip into the world of Midwest finesse fishing. And those dips eventually spawned Missile Baits’ first Midwest finesse creation, which was the Ned Bomb that Crews introduced to the angling world in 2019.
A small mushroom-style jig with a small hook is a predominant tool in the repertoire of the recreational anglers in the Midwest finesse world. But in Crews’ hands and his tournament needs, he found the small mushroom-style jig to be inadequate.
Therefore, he and Missile Baits’ staff worked on creating a state-of-the-art jig that would allow them to easily skip cast a Ned Bomb and other finesse-sized soft-plastic baits under overhanging trees, under docks, and around and under other difficult-to-access lairs. They also wanted one that could be dragged and hopped across underwater terrains that are littered with scores of rocks and boulders and not become snagged in the crevices of those rocks and boulders. In addition to those two necessary features, they hoped to design a jig that would accentuate the gliding motif of the Midwest finesse anglers’ swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
Ultimately, they created one, which is called the NedBall Head.
Here is what we discovered about it.
There are three sizes: 1/16-ounce, 1/8-ounce, and 3/16-ounce. They were designed primarily to be used with the Ned Bomb. And, of course, they can be affixed to a variety of finesse-size soft-plastic baits, such as Missile Baits’ The 48 Worm and 4.5-inch Quiver.
This gear guide will focus on the 1/16-ounce NedBall Head.
It is not a traditional ball- or round-headed jig.
The sides and dorsal or top portions of the head are convex. Its ventral or bottom portion is flat. The width of the head is three-sixteenths of an inch. The height of its sides is a quarter of an inch. It has a circumference of about thirteen-sixteenths of an inch. The eye of the hook, which has a 90-degree bend, extends three-sixteenths of an inch above the head’s dorsal.
The head’s collar, which encompasses a short portion of the hook’s shank, is slightly more than five-sixteenths of an inch long. The first three-sixteenths of an inch of this collar has an unusual rectangular shape, and the width of this rectangular collar is one-eighth of an inch. The end of the collar is crowned with a cone-shaped bait keeper that is slightly more than one-eighth of an inch long. At the junction with the flat segment of the collar, the cone-shaped bait keeper is slightly more than one-eighth of an inch wide and high with a circumference of about five-eighths of an inch.
The NedBall Head sports a custom-made 1/0 VMC Techset Hook. The distance from the center of the hook’s eye to the apex of the bend of the hook is 1 7/16 inches. The gap of this hook, which is the distance from the shank to the tip of the point of the hook, is seven-sixteenths of an inch. The gap between the surface of the dorsal area of a Ned Bomb and the point of the hook is about five-sixteenths of an inch. When the NedBall Head is affixed to a Ned Bomb, which is 3 ¼ inches long, 1 3/16 inches of the torso of the Ned Bomb is fettered to the shank of the hook. Crews says “the hook is amazing for having a very high landing rate. The fish don't throw that hook. It is remarkable.”
It is available in three hues black, green pumpkin, and unpainted.
The suggested retail price for a package of three is $4.99.
- Here is a link to Missile Bait’s website: https://missilebaits.store/.
- Here are three links to the Midwest Finesse gear guides about Missile Baits’ Ned Bomb, 4.5-inch Quiver Worm, and The 48 Worm: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/missle-baits-ned-bomb/359207; https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/missile-baits-45inch-quiver/383023; https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/missile-baits-the-48-worm/153430. The NedBall Head can also be affixed to those three baits, as well as to Missile Bait’s Baby D-Bomb.
- Here is the link to our Midwest Finesse column that explains how to employ the NedBall Head affixed to a Ned Bomb and execute the swim-glide-and-shake presentation: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/153946. It also explains how to execute the other five standard retrieves that Midwest finesse anglers use.
We featured the 1/16-ounce NedBall Head in this gear guide because a no-feel presentation is an essential element in all of the six standard Midwest finesse retrieves, and a lightweight jig enhances our abilities to achieve this presentation.
What’s more, decades ago, the late and great Guido Hibdon of the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, who was one of the forefathers of Midwest finesse fishing, taught us that “fishermen tend to use too much weight, And, with too much weight the baits don’t work right.”
On the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas, we fish in water as shallow as one foot and rarely deeper than 12 feet from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. And we have found that the weight of a 1/8- and 3/16-ounce jig interferes with our abilities to execute a no-feel presentation around the shallow-water lairs that we dissect.
Thus, from our many years of working with lightweight jigs and the no-feel retrieves, we think that the best way for newcomers to Midwest finesse fishing to learn about the virtues of the no-feel retrieve and how to execute it should begin by using the 1/16-ounce NedBall Head.