Skip to main content

Ralph Manns and Midwest Finesse Fishing

Ralph Manns and Midwest Finesse Fishing

Ralph Manns with one of the largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on March 30.

Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas, is a knowledgeable black-bass angler and veteran tournament angler. He is also a fisheries biologist and longtime field editor for  In-Fisherman's publications.

For the past year or so, Manns has periodically fished with Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas.  Since August of 2013, Reideler has been a Midwest finesse devotee, and his ability to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass from the extremely problematic and overfished reservoirs that he plies in north-central Texas and within the metroplex of Dallas and Fort Worth has impressed a goodly number of members of the Finesse News Network. Reideler's methods have also impressed Manns.

On March 30, Manns sent an email to Doug Stange of Brainerd, Minnesota, who is the editor in chief at In-Fisherman, and to Steve Reideler. In this email, Manns  included some of his observations about the effectiveness of Midwest finesse tactics. 


Manns expanded his critique of Midwest finesse fishing in an April 2 email to Reideler. In this email, he compared his approach and philosophy of power and finesse fishing to the Midwest finesse tactics that Reideler employs.


Manns said that we could publish his insights in our Midwest Finesse column, and here is an edited and condensed version of both of those emails:

I have now had several trips with Steve Reideler, who only fishes with Midwest finesse gear and lures. I have seen how well it works in conditions where a more traditional bass angler might simply employ power-fishing techniques to cover water and locate bass.

In short, Midwest finesse tactics are deadly once fish are located, and those fish want small lures.

On our latest trip, Steve's combination of a 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jig and a Z-Man Bait Company's Finesse ShadZ far out-fished me. I should admit that out-fishing me is not all that hard to do. Over the years, I have fished with professionals and about four other friends who consistently put me to shame. The only way I could beat my friends in tournaments was to fish separately with a better game plan.


From my perspective, the main downside to Midwest finesse methods seems to be the total reliance on one scheme.

Although Midwest finesse techniques allow some variation in lure presentations, it likely overlooks the times when black bass are focusing on larger plastic lures, or action baits like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, or topwater baits. But it certainly finds fish if the black bass are there.

Midwest finesse also provides the added bonus in that anglers can catch other species as well. During our recent March 30 trip, where I landed a 4 1/2-pound largemouth bass, we caught 10 adult-sized largemouth bass (measuring 12 inches or longer) that weighed up to 4 1/2 pounds. We also caught 24 hybrid striped bass, and 21 of them measured more than 18 inches, which is the Texas minimum size limit. Besides that bounty, we caught three white bass. I experimented with different lures while Steve landed hybrid after hybrid on his 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig attached to a four-inch Z-Man Junebug Finesse ShadZ. But I caught only one hybrid striped bass using an action-type bait, such as a Bill Lewis Lures' floating Rat-L-Trap. The hybrids were tight to the shoreline, and eventually I did land some hybrids when I switched to a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce Bass Pro Shops jig and a spinning outfit.


Long before this latest trip, I bought another spinning rod and reel and loaded it with 10-pound Berkley Fireline and an eight-pound-test fluorocarbon leader, and that is the outfit I used to wield the Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce Bass Pro Shops jig and tangle with the hybrids.

"Learn from example" is a good motto.

In my eyes, it may be time for In-Fisherman to give Midwest finesse another promotion.

I have never been a true power angler. In fact, I have used smaller lures for decades. Even when I fished in tournaments, I used small lures to get a limit of small bass. Once I got a limit, I used some power tactics to catch some larger bass.

Finesse worms have long been a primary fishing tool for me. I have always had at least one spinning rod with me, and it is spooled with 10-pound-test line and leader rather than the lighter lines and leaders that Midwest finesse anglers use. I like tackle stout enough that I can probe woody cover if the opportunity arises, whereas Midwest Finesse anglers will bypass such snag-filled environs.

Moreover, I do not consider my use of a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' weightless Senko a power technique. Basically, it is a finesse tactic that features an extremely slow presentation, and it has waylaid vast numbers of largemouth bass.

I think that the rapid or quick presentation styles that some Midwest finesse anglers employ are as effective of a way to locate concentrations of black bass as the tactics that other anglers employ with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwater baits. Yet, I still see Midwest finesse as a technique that is most suitable for times when the black bass are less than fully active, such as when they are spawning rather than moving about to feed.

I think big black bass are more difficult to locate and catch, and to catch them takes a lot of skill and attention to details. I think Midwest finesse anglers focus too much attention on catching a lot of black bass rather than concentrating on big ones. Therefore, they primarily catch a lot of small ones, which distracts them from pinpointing all of the attention and skill that are necessary for alluring quality-size black bass.

What's more, Midwest anglers focus on catching vast numbers of black bass which also leads them to over-value poorly managed fisheries, which are rank with small black bass and bereft of a significant number of big ones.

Dallas area reservoirs would have properly been called very tough lakes 10 to 20 years ago. Back then, the black bass population was overharvested, and these reservoirs were rank with tiny bass. I think that widespread practice of catching and releasing black bass has raised the level of reservoirs like Ray Hubbard to becoming a very good bass fishery. Hubbard has recently produced catches for professional anglers comparable to those made at some of the best reservoirs on the Bassmaster's tournament circuits. Recently, tournament anglers caught five-bass limits that weighed more than 20 pounds, and the week before that, one competitor caught five largemouth bass that weighed 30 pounds.

Midwest finesse anglers may also be plagued by catching a multitude of species, which is time consuming and fouls their focus. It prevents them from maximizing every cast and retrieve when a maximized catch of one species is desired. But I must confess that too many years of focusing solely on black bass has prevented me from fully appreciating the virtues of multi-species angling. It's a character fault of mine.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

“If that engine starts without my kill switch on, I ain't the one driving it,” Blake Broussard says after ejection video goes viral.

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

The In-Fisherman crew head to Lake Erie to catch smallmouth bass.

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Their fighting ability is far superior to the largemouth bass—more par with muskies.The Case for Super Bass (AKA Snakeheads) Other Fish

The Case for Super Bass (AKA Snakeheads)

Steve Ryan - July 06, 2020

Their fighting ability is far superior to the largemouth bass—more par with muskies.

Folks are increasingly realizing that the beauty of a big bluegill lies in its rarity.Managing for Big Bluegills Panfish

Managing for Big Bluegills

Cory Schmidt - November 24, 2020

Folks are increasingly realizing that the beauty of a big bluegill lies in its rarity.

Patience is key for the Delta blue cat game.Double-Digit Delta Blues Catfish

Double-Digit Delta Blues

David A. Brown - October 16, 2020

Patience is key for the Delta blue cat game.

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Trending Articles

More Midwest Finesse

Its chelipads feature six holes, creating a bubble trail underwater for fish to hone in on.Big Bite Baits 3-inch Kamikaze Craw Midwest Finesse

Big Bite Baits 3-inch Kamikaze Craw

Ned Kehde - October 15, 2020

Its chelipads feature six holes, creating a bubble trail underwater for fish to hone in on.

Ned Kehde breaks down the finer points of the Rabid Baits GobyRabid Baits Goby Midwest Finesse

Rabid Baits Goby

Ned Kehde - October 09, 2020

Ned Kehde breaks down the finer points of the Rabid Baits Goby

The Guard Spin Jig has a teardrop-shaped head.Keitech's TungstenGuard Spin Jig Midwest Finesse

Keitech's TungstenGuard Spin Jig

Ned Kehde - September 29, 2020

The Guard Spin Jig has a teardrop-shaped head.

It is buoyant and enhanced with garlic and salt.Venture Lure's Finesse Worm Midwest Finesse

Venture Lure's Finesse Worm

Ned Kehde - August 25, 2020

It is buoyant and enhanced with garlic and salt.

See More Midwest Finesse

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now