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Mike Poe and the shad-shaped worm

Mike Poe and the shad-shaped worm
Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits green-pumpkin Shad Shape Worm.

On May 30, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his maiden outing with a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' Shad Shape Worm. It took place on the afternoon of May 29.

He wrote: "It seems that every trip lately adds a new chapter to my Midwest finesse adventures. This one began on a whim, when I stopped by my dad's tackle shop and picked up some 031 (blue-pearl-w- silver-flake) and 306 (natural-shad) Shad Shape Worms.

"I have been trailing you Midwest guys in using this type of bait, and I wanted to give it a whirl. I ended up using 17 of the baits, and I lost count of the largemouth bass, bites, and lost fish.

"Some of the largemouth bass were along steep rocky banks, some were on flat rocky points, some were around the riprap and pilings at a bridge, and some were on the outside edge of water willows. These bass ranged in size from three inches to three pounds.

"In order to facilitate my casting and feeling the Shad Shape Worm during the retrieve, my spinning reel was spooled with 10-pound-test Berkley NanoFil line. I also rigged the bait onto a red 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jig.

It was a great three-hour trip, and I will definitely be using the Shad Shape Worm again and again."

He did use it again on June 1. And on that outing, the Shad Shape Worm inveigled 48 largemouth bass, which included a 5 1/2-pounder, but most of them ranged in size from 10 inches to two pounds.

After his second outing, Poe said that the fragility of Yamamoto's Shad Shape Worm concerns him, noting that those 48 largemouth bass annihilated 20 Shad Shape Worms. Since the suggested retail price for a package of 10 is $4.79, using them to catch vast numbers of largemouth bass can become a rather costly undertaking. Nevertheless, Poe wrote in a June 19 e-mail that he liked the way the Shad Shape Worm felt during the retrieve. He also raved about the color selection, which consist of 25 colors.

Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas have always lauded the abilities of Yamamoto's Shad Shape Worm and three-inch Senko to allure scores of largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass. But at the same time, they have lamented incessantly about the fragileness of both baits.

Power anglers, however, rarely complain about the brittle nature of Yamamoto's soft-plastic baits; one reason that might be is because power anglers don't tangle with as many black bass as Midwest finesse anglers deal with on each outing. For example, it is not unusual for a pair of northeastern Kansas Midwest finesse anglers to occasionally catch 25 largemouth bass an hour, and throughout an entire calendar year, a northeastern Kansas Midwest finesse angler can catch an average of 11 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass an hour. To accomplish such a piscatorial task with either the Shad Shape Worm or Senko is not a frugal endeavor.

Since frugality is one of the cardinal virtues of Midwest finesse fishing, there has been an incessant quest to find soft-plastic baits that will be as alluring as Yamamoto's great Senko and Shad Shape Worm but more durable.

Some alternatives might be the three- and four-inch Berkley PowerBait Minnow and the three-inch PowerBait Twitchtail Minnow.

The Berkley Minnow is endowed with a split tail. Its torso is more streamlined and fish shaped than Yamamoto's Shad Shape Worm. It is manufactured in six colors: Black Shad, Chartreuse Shad, Emerald Shad, Pearl White, Rainbow, and Smelt. The suggested retail price of a package of 15 three-inchers and 10 four-inchers is $4.99.

The three-inch Twitchtail Minnow is graced with a thin tail that can undulate and quiver incessantly. Like the PowerBait Minnow, its torso is rather streamlined and fish shaped. It is made in 15 colors: Black Shad, Breen-Clear Chartreuse, Chartreuse Black Fleck-Orange, Chartreuse Shad, Clear Bluegill, Clear Gold-Black Back, Clear Gold Shiner, Clear Silver Shiner, Clear Smelt, Green Pumpkin, Pearl Watermelon Shad, Pearl White, Perch, Pink-Pearl, and Smelt. The suggested retail price for a package of 15 is $4.99.

Bob Gum of Kansas City is a veteran Midwest finesse angler and regular correspondent on the Finesse News Network, and for the past 10 months, he has been working with the three and four-inch Berkley PowerBait Minnow in the smelt-hue, which he affixes to a hot-pink 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. On some of his Finesse News Network reports, he has written that the Berkley PowerBait Minnow has allured a goodly number of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. But in a June 19 e-mail, he wrote: "They don't last long. Sometimes it becomes unusable after it catches a couple of fish. The most durable Midwest finesse baits that I use are Z-Man's Fishing Products' Finesse ShadZ and Finesse WormZ.

None of the Midwest finesse anglers on the Finesse News Network have worked with the three-inch Twitchtail Minnow. Therefore, we can't address its durability and alluring quotients. Therefore, we would appreciate it if anglers who have used it would post their insights about it in the comment section below.

The three-inch Twitchtail Minnow.

Gum's comment about the durability of the Z-Man Finesse ShadZ is on the mark. In fact, some Midwest finesse anglers in Kansas have caught more than 75 largemouth bass on the same Finesse ShadZ. In addition, these Kansas finesse anglers have also found it to be one of the most alluring baits in their repertoire -- especially during the cold- and cool-water times. It is available in nine colors: Blue Steel, Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin Blue, Junebug, Morningwood, Pearl, Pumpkin/Green Flake, Watermelon, and Watermelon Red. A package of eight, which might allow an angler to tangle with as many as 600 largemouth bass, can be purchased for $3.99.

Poe says he has a difficult time casting the Finesse ShadZ, and he doesn't like the way it feels during the retrieve. Poe likes to feel his bait as it moves across the bottom or through a lair during the retrieve process. Unlike the Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm, the Finesse ShadZ is not impregnated with salt. Therefore, it is light and very buoyant, which enhances the vital no-feel element that is an important ingredient in all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves. To enhance the no-feel aspect of the retrieve, some Midwest finesse anglers affix the Finesse ShadZ to a 1/32-ounce jig, which makes it even lighter, tougher to cast, and more confounding to Poe. Besides its featherweight nature, Poe is not enamored with the Finesse ShadZ's color options. Yet, he said in a recent e-mail that he will make an effort to work with it in the months to come, and he hopes by gradually learning about the manifold merits of the Finesse ShadZ that he can add another new chapter to his Midwest finesse adventures. In fact, he wrote in an e-mail on June 23: "I got in my shipment of the Finesse ShadZ, and the blue-steel color is nice."


1. For more information about Gary Yamamoto Custom Bait's Shad Shape Worm, Please sees Shin Fukae introduced us to the virtues of the Shad Shape Worm. He is a wizard at wielding it.

3. For more information about Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ, please see

4. In the upcoming monthly guide to Midwest finesse fishing, Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, has a June 26 log that features his maiden outing with Z-Man's Finesse WormZ. June's monthly guide should be published by July 9.

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