A Short History of the Chartreuse and Red Midwest Finesse Jigs

Z-Man Fishing Products' 1/15-ounce chartreuse and red Finesse ShroomZ jigs.

Before April 1, 2006, I and most Midwest finesse anglers affixed unpainted jigs to all of our soft-plastic finesse worms, grubs, tubes, and stickbaits. It was on that April Fools' Day at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, when Shin Fukae of Osaka, Japan, Palestine, Texas, and FLW fame showed us how, when, where, and why he painted the heads on his jigs red with his wife's fingernail polish. (Besides painting the heads of his jigs red, he used Miya Fukae's red fingernail polish to paint a number of small red dots on his jerkbaits, crankbaits, and topwater baits.)

As we watched Fukae practice for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour's Wal-Mart Open tourney at Beaver Lake, we were impressed with the way he fished and tangled with an array of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass by employing a spinning outfit that sported a red 3/32-ounce jig affixed to a four-inch green-pumpkin shad-shaped worm. In addition to his impressive practice performance on April 1, Fukae won that tournament by using a red jig and four-inch green-pumpkin shad-shaped worm.

After Fukae's performance, I and several Midwest finesse anglers began painting the heads of our jigs red.

We made another change in the color of the heads of our jigs shortly after Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Bassmaster fame introduced us to the five-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin Zero in late September of 2006. For Midwest finesse applications, the five-inch Zero was too big. So, we customized it by cutting it in half, which created a 2 1/2-inch stickbait. On our maiden outing with the 2 1/2-inch Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig on Oct. 12, 2006, we caught 109 largemouth bass.

Back in those days we occasionally dipped a short portion of the tails of some of our soft-plastic finesse baits into a chartreuse dye, but we were unable to dye the tip of the Zero's tail chartreuse. To compensate for that loss, we began painting some of our mushroom-style jigs chartreuse, and from that moment on, we have never dipped the tip of the tail of a soft-plastic bait into a bottle of chartreuse dye.

We have not been able to create a scientific method that explains why the red and chartreuse mushroom-style jigs are so effective. But we do know that once we started using only red and chartreuse mushroom-style jigs, the number of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass we caught increased rather significantly. For example, my partners and I fished for black bass 63 times in northeastern Kansas during 2005, and we caught 2208 largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass, which equals 34.9 per outing. Then in 2010, we fished 127 times and caught 5570, which equals 43.8 per outing. What's more, our outings in 2005 consumed many more hours of fishing than our outings in 2010. Consequently, our rate of catch per hour escalated from seven largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass an hour in 2005 to 10.9 per hour in 2010.

Z-Man Fishing Products recently began selling a new jig, which they call the Finesse ShroomZ. It is a mushroom-style jig that was created by Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, who is one of the early pioneers of Midwest finesse fishing. Z-Man manufactures it in four colors: black, chartreuse, green pumpkin, and red.

But to the dismay of scores of Midwest finesse anglers, who want to use the chartreuse and red Finesse ShroomZ jigs, these jigs can't be readily purchased, and that is because most retailers sell only the black and green-pumpkin ones. And Daniel Nussbaum, who is the general manager and executive vice president of Z-Man, said in a Nov. 19 email: "The vast majority of our sales are the green-pumpkin heads. We have sold a few black heads, but very few red and chartreuse ones. People definitely seem to shy away from colors other than really dark ones, but the chartreuse and red ones obviously work well, even better under certain conditions."

One way that anglers can surmount this merchandizing problem that the retailers have created is to purchase the chartreuse and red Finesse ShroomZ jigs from Z-Man at this link: http://zmanfishing.com/store/categories/jigsspinners/finesse_shroomz.


(1) After we watched Shin Fukae at Beaver Lake, he told us that he uses a red jig during the prespawn, spawn, and post-spawn periods. Then he usually opts for a green-pumpkin one. But we have found that a red one works for us year around, as does the chartreuse one. But there are spells, especially during the cold-water times, when the chartreuse one is more effective than the red one. At times, however, we have periodically experimented with blue, green-pumpkin, orange, purple, and a few other colors, but day in and day out, we use the chartreuse and red ones.

(2) Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, is one of the early practitioners of Midwest finesse fishing. In fact, back in the 1960s, Bosley fished regularly with the late Chuck Woods of Kansas City. And to this day, Bosley still prefers unpainted jigs. In fact, in a log that he recently posted on the Finesse News Network, he wrote: "I've never been much of a fan of painted jig heads. I know that painted jigs sometimes help, but day in and day out, I prefer the neutrality of unpainted lead."

We would also be interested in reading other comments from anglers who prefer unpainted jigs.

We would also like to know why some anglers are wary about affixing chartreuse and red jigs to affix to their soft-plastic finesse baits. Please post those insights below.

(3) For more information about Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ, please see http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/z-mans-shroomz/.

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