February 21, 2020
At the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in Orlando, Florida, on July 9-12, 2019, Strike King Lure Company enlivened the hearts of veterans and newcomers to the piscatorial world of Midwest finesse fishing. They accomplished this task by creating the Ned Ocho, Rage Ned Bug, Rage Ned Cut-R Worm, and Tour Grade Ned Jig Head.
In August of 2019, we talked with Crispin Powley of Camden, Tennessee, who is Director of Product Development, about these four finesse tools. And he indicated that the design, testing, and manufacturing of the Tour Grade Ned Jig Head proved to be an arduous one. Their challenging quest was to create a jig that would allow most soft-plastic baits to stand in an upright position or perpendicular to the bottom of a lake or stream.
Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a member of Strike King’s pro staff and a veteran professional bass tournament angler who regularly uses Midwest finesse rigs. And in a YouTube feature about the Tour Grade Ned Jig Head, he exclaimed that it is the state-of-the-art Midwest finesse jig.
Most Midwest finesse anglers would describe it as a mushroom-style jig. Some observers might say it replicated the shape of an aspirin. But Upshaw calls it a flat-head jig.
Mark Copley of Collierville, Tennessee, who is Strike King’s Marketing Relationship Manager, sent us several of the 1/16-ounce Tour Grade Ned Jig Heads to examine, describe, and use.
Here is what we discovered about it.
It is endowed with a 2/0 premium black-nickel and sickle-style hook that is manufactured by Eagle Claw.
Along the bottom of the hook’s shank, there is a bait keeper, and the bend of the keeper lies seven-eighths of an inch from the back of the flat lead head. The length and position of the bend of the bait keeper are designed to keep a soft-plastic bait securely affixed to the hook.
Its lead head is round and flat. Its diameter is seven-sixteenths of an inch. It is one-eighth of an inch thick. The circumference is about 1 5/16 inches.
The Tour Grade Ned Jig Head was designed from the perspectives of the top-of-the-line tournament anglers. Consequently, the size of the hook is larger than the hook that recreational Midwest finesse anglers traditionally have used. From the tip of the head of the Tour Grade Ned Jig Head to the apex of the bend of the hook, it is 1 7/16 inches long.
The Ned Ocho is a 2 3/4-inch long stick-style bait, and when it is affixed to the Tour Grade Ned Jig Head, 1 1/8 inches of the Ned Ocho’s anterior section is affixed to the hook’s shank.
The Rage Ned Bug is a creature-style bait that is 2 5/8 inches long, and when it is affixed to the Tour Grade Ned Jig Head, about 1 1/8 inches of its torso is affixed to the hook’s shank.
The Rage Ned Cut-R Worm is a stick-style bait that is embellished with what Strike King calls a Rage Tail. It is 3 1/8 inches long. And when 1 1/8 inches of the shank of the Tour Grade Ned Jig Head’s hook is affixed to the Rage Ned Cut-R Worm, all of its anterior and clitellum sections and one-eighth of an inch of its posterior section are affixed to the hook’s shank.
A package of three Tour Grade Ned Jig Heads costs $4.99. It is also available in an 1/8-ounce and 3/16-ounce size.
They are manufactured in two colors: black and green pumpkin. Midwest finesse anglers are inveterate customizers, and they will gladly customize those colors with a few brushstrokes of fingernail polish.
- Here is a link to Strike King Lure Company’s website: https://www.strikeking.com/products/116-oz-tour-grade-ned-rig-head.
- Here are the links to the Midwest Finesse gear guides about the Ned Ocho, Rage Ned Bug, and Rage Ned Cut-R Worm:
- The Tour Grade Ned Jig Head was designed to facilitate retrieves that anglers employ along the bottom. And as an angler drags or hops or deadsticks it and a soft-plastic finesse bait along the bottom, most soft-plastic baits will be virtually perpendicular to the bottom. In many anglers’ eyes and minds, this perpendicular posture replicates the defense posture of a crayfish. But when veteran Midwest finesse anglers affix a soft-plastic finesse bait to a 1/16-ounce Tour Grade Ned Jig Head, they can employ all six of the standard Midwest finesse presentations. Here is a link to a Midwest Finesse column that explains how to execute those six retrieves: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/153946. And often the most effective retrieve is not a bottom-oriented presentation that replicates a crayfish’s antics. Instead, it is what we call the swim-glide-and-shake presentation.