The Manifold Virtues of Tiny Jigs
July 14, 2016
In order to execute the no-feel phenomenon that lies at the heart of all six of the Midwest finesse retrieves, it is necessary to employ a lightweight jig. Midwest finesse anglers accomplish that feat by using a 1/32-, 1/20-, 1/15-, and 1/16-ounce jig.
But lightweight jigs and no-feel retrieves are an anathema to most anglers — even those who use spinning rods and reels that are spooled with light line.
Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, has been a Finesse News Network member and contributor for several years. But he has had a difficult time getting the hang of lightweight jigs and the no-feel retrieve when he is plying the creeks, rivers, and reservoirs that stipple the Ozark region where he fishes.
For instance, when Croom works with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' ZinkerZ, which is a Midwest finesse standard-bearer, he affixes it to a 1/8-ounce Prescription Plastics' Ozark Finesse Head jig. There have been occasions, however, when he will employ a 1/16-ounce Ozark Finesse Head -- especially when he is using a swimming retrieve with a Z-Man's Slim SwimZ.
A 1/32-ounce jig has not been part of Coom's repertoire, but that might be changing because of Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia.
Since July of 2015, Croom has been reading the reports filed on the Finesse News Network by Myers, who is a master at wielding a light jig for smallmouth bass in the streams and rivers that flow through the Appalachian Mountains near where he lives. Most of the time Myers uses a 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig, which he affixes to a variety of Z-Man's soft-plastic baits.
On July 9, Croom emailed Myers, saying that he is curious why Myers always uses a 1/32-ounce jig. He wondered if it was to keep the Midwest finesse rig in the middle of the water column or almost suspended. He ended his email by saying that he was going to start tinkering with a 1/32-ounce jig on a Z-Man's CrusteaZ.
Myers answered Croom's questions on July 10, saying that a well-worn four-inch Z-Man's Finesse WormZ, or a well-worn Z-Man's FattyZ tail attached to a 1/32-Gopher jig will suspend. A well-worn and virtually salt-free 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig will float on the surface. After using a Z-Man's Finesse T.R.D. for an hour, it will suspend.
When these baits become tattered and worn, the salt that is impregnated in them dissipates. When they are nearly salt-free, they become extremely buoyant. (Myers accelerates that phenomenon by soaking the Finesse T.R.D.s, ZinkerZs, FattyZs, Hula StickZ, and Finesse WormZs in water before he uses them; for more information about this process, see endnote No.1.)
Therefore, to counteract that buoyancy factor, Myers shortens the worn and salt-free Finesse T.R.D. a touch, which allows it to sink on a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. He also uses a 2 1/4-inch ZinkerZ rather than the standard 2 1/2-incher. He shortens the Finesse WormZ to 3 1/4 inches and Hula StickZ to three inches.
What's more, he applies a thick application of his customized formula of a Pro-Cure's Super Gel on the shortened Finesse T.R.D., FattyZ, Hula StickZ, Finesse WormZ, and ZinkerZ. The Super Gel will add enough weight so that a Finesse T.R.D., Finesse WormZ, and ZinkerZ will sink almost to the bottom of the river when they are rigged on a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.
The Finesse ShadZ is not impregnated with salt, and when it is affixed to a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, Myers says, it is a preeminent no-feel-retrieve rig. And from Myers' sharp perspective, a heavier jig hinders his abilities to make a Finesse ShadZ exhibit what he calls a "delightful action." Occasionally, he also uses Z-Man's Scented LeechZ, which is not impregnated with salt.
Myers says another reason why he opts for a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig is "that my rivers will absolutely eat heavy jigs that are tiptoed along the bottom. This, of course, is unproductive, time consuming and costly." In addition, the No. 6 hook on the 1/32-ounce Gopher jig is situated close to the body of the Finesse T.R.D., Finesse WormZ, ZinkerZ, FattyZ , and Finesse ShadZ , which keeps it from becoming readily snagged.
He said he does occasionally use a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. But that occurs very early in the spring when he is contending with high-water conditions and very late in the year when the smallmouth bass are primarily looking down. When they are looking down, he employs a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a Hula StickZ with a lot of deadstick retrieves.
He concluded his July 10 email by saying: "In essence the small hook, slow drop rate and a no-feel retrieve all combine as to why I use the 1/32-ouncer as much as I do."
In a second July 10 email, Myers wrote that he has been asked many times by ardent and knowledgeable river anglers why he uses a 1/32-ounce jig. "My stance regarding a 1/32-ounce jig," he says, "is not a popular one with river anglers until they fish with me." Nowadays, the word about its effectiveness has spread by those who have fished with him, and there are not as many doubters and naysayers as their used to be.
Nevertheless, east-coast-river smallmouth bass anglers are what he calls "over tackled." Their "lines are ridiculously too heavy" and their baits are too big. They possess what he describes as "the Bassmaster mentality."
(1) For more information about how Travis Myers uses Z-Man's Finesse T.R.D. and ZinkerZ, please see the Midwest Finesse column at this link: https://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/z-mans-finesse-t-r-d-and-2-12-inch-zinkerz-an-update/.
(2) To read about how, where, and when Myers uses a 1/32-ounce jig, see the monthly guides to Midwest Finesse Fishing. Here is a link to one of the monthly guides: https://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/midwest-finesse-fishing-september-2015/.