Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, is one of the pioneers of Midwest finesse fishing, stretching back into the 1960s.
He was also a veteran at wielding a three-inch tube affixed to a jig, which used to be one of the standard-bearers in the repertoire of scores of Midwest finesse anglers. In fact, Reese was such an ardent tube angler that he wore out 600 tubes during one summer.
But after he discovered the effectiveness of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig in 2011, he stopped using tubes, and he also spent some time refining this customized soft-plastic stickbait and creating a different mushroom-style jig.
In 2012, Z-Man began manufacturing the Hula-StickZ, which is Reese's creation. In essence, it is a four-inch stickbait that is embellished with four tentacles. Reese describes it as part tube and part ZinkerZ.
And in 2014, Z-Man started manufacturing the Finesse ShroomZ jig, which Reese helped to design, and Z-Man is on the verge of introducing a Finesse ShroomZ jig with a weedguard.
For many summers on end, Reese has tangled with untold numbers of smallmouth bass that inhabit the Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada, and during the past three summers, he has found that the Hula StickZ affixed to a Finesse ShroomZ-style jig is the most effective bait that he has ever used in Canada. And when he returns to Kansas at summer's end and fishes Kansas waterways from late September into early May, he has found that this combo is the most effective largemouth bass bait that he has ever used in his five decades of employing a variety of Midwest finesse baits in these Kansas waterways.
Not only is the Hula StickZ and Finesse ShroomZ his creations, he is a potent apostle about this combo's effectiveness. And he conducted one of his apostolic missions on April 29 and 30 and May 1, where he fished with a friend at a 25,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir in western Missouri.
Here is a revised and edited rendition of a brief that he filed on the Finesse News Network:
A friend that I have fished with for more than 40 years lives on this reservoir, and I have been telling him about the magical effect of the Hula StickZ and other Z-Man lures have on fish all across the U.S. and Canada. He said he had tried them, but they were not nearly as effective as a Zoom Bait Company's Shakey Head Worm affixed to a shaky-head jig.
I needed to check my boat out before I leave for Canada on May 19. So, we set up the Hula StickZ versus the Shakey Head Worm competition, which began on April 29.
We fished during the afternoon of April 29, all day on April 30, and during the morning on May 1.
On April 29, area thermometers ranged from a low temperature of 39 degrees to a high temperature of 70 degrees. It was sunny. The wind was mild mannered and angled out of the north by northwest. The surface temperature was in the upper 50s. The cool water temperature had stymied the spawning rites for most of this reservoir's largemouth bass. What's more, the fishing was extremely difficult, and none of my friend's best pre-spawn areas, which were along bluff on the main-body of the reservoir, were very productive. So, we began to fish other areas. He used the Shakey Head Worm on a 1/8-ounce shaky-head jig, and I fished with a California Craw Hula StickZ on a 1/10-ounce unpainted Finesse ShroomZ jig. Even though the fishing was extremely trying, the Hula StickZ rig had the wherewithal to catch 30 largemouth bass, and his Shakey Head Worm managed to inveigle only two largemouth bass. We caught those 32 largemouth bass on secondary points inside several coves. To elicit a strike, I had to execute a painstakingly slow drag-and-deadstick presentation, which was occasionally punctuated with a subtle shake or two.
After that 30-to-two knockout on April 29, our contest ended, and my friend humbly said he wanted to spend April 30 and May l learning how to use the Hula StickZ on a 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
On April 30, area thermometers ranged from a low temperature of 44 degrees to a high temperature of 73 degrees. It was sunny. The wind angled out of the north at 7 to 13 mph and out of the northeast at 5 to 7 mph.
On May 1, area thermometers ranged from a low temperature of 42 degrees to a high temperature of 74 degrees. It was sunny. The wind angled out of the southeast at 7 to 13 mph and out of the east at 5 mph, and there were times when the wind was calm and variable. The reservoir's surface temperature hit 65 degrees, and some of the largemouth bass were exhibiting hints that the spawning season was about to unfold, and if it did begin, it would parallel the full moon on May 3.
On our April 29 and May 1 outings, my friend fished with the California Craw Hula StickZ on a 1/10-ounce unpainted Finesse ShroomZ jig. I used it, too, and I also used Z-Man's California Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a 1/10-ounce unpainted Finesse ShroomZ. The fishing remained difficult, but we were able to muster 107 largemouth bass and nine smallmouth bass. The bulk of these fish were caught along shorelines inside coves that had a 40- to 45-degree slope, and where the boat floated in eight to 16 feet of water.
Across the one full day, one afternoon, and one morning that we fished, we caught 148 black bass, as well as some crappie, freshwater drum, and walleye. And as it has been on most of my outings, the Hula StickZ was more effective than the T.R.D. or the old-fashioned 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ.
Before I headed home to Kansas, I gave him enough Hula StickZs for him to make it through the weekend. And he said that he was planning to buy some more of them when he goes back to work in Springfield, Missouri, on May 4.
(1) On May 5, Drew Reese filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about how his friend and his friend's wife fared on May 2 by employing three Midwest finesse lures that Z-Man manufactures.
At one spot where they were catching a lot of black bass, a tournament boat pulled in front of them. Instead of moving to another shoreline, Reese's friend and wife merely followed behind the tournament boat. And they continued to catch a lot of black bass, including a five-pound, four-ounce largemouth bass, while the tournament anglers caught only one dink.
His friend was using Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a 1/10-ounce Z-Man's unpainted Finesse ShroomZ jig, and his friend's wife was using Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a 1/10-ounce unpainted Finesse ShroomZ jig, which is now her favorite bait.
That evening his friend went fishing again, and right before dark and after he had caught several black bass, he decided to fish for walleye. Reese had been telling him about how effective the Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ on a Finesse ShroomZ jig is for walleye in Canada. So, his friend tried it on a 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, and he caught eight walleye.
Reese's friend has become Hula StickZ devotee. On May 4, he went to the Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri, and bought all of the Finesse ShroomZ jigs they had in stock, which was 160. They had only one package of Z-Man's Canadian Craw Hula StickZs. So, he ordered 10 packages from Z-Man's online store.
(Reese did not report that his friend purchased some Finesse T.R.D.s for his wife, but we suspect that he purchased a few of them and some Finesse ShadZs, too. And if not, we suspect that he will be purchasing them in the near future.)
(2) For more information about Drew Reese, Z-Man's Hula StickZ, and Midwest finesse fishing, please examine these stories:
https://www.in-fisherman.com/gear-accessories/lures-gear-accessories/midwest-finesse-z-man-saga-canada/. (Drew Reese is not named in this story, but it is about him.)
https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/z-man-goes-canada/ . (Drew Reese is not named in this story, but he was the host for this adventure and one of Daniel Nussbaum's guides.)