Tiny jigs and small soft-plastic baits lie at the heart of Midwest finesse fishing. It has been that way for more than six decades, which began with the creation of the Beetle and Beetle Spin by Chuck Woods of Kansas City and several other baits that he created.
Across those many years, we often had to customize many of the soft-plastic baits (as well as pork eels and chunks) we used in order to diminish their size and weight. The reason that we had to do that was because most of the tackle manufacturers -- except for some of the jigs and soft-plastic baits made by Bass Buster Lure Company of Amsterdam, Missouri, and Mar-Lynn Lure Company of Blue Springs, Missouri -- did not cater to our needs.
But about four years after a Midwest finesse angler cut a Strike King Lure Company's five-inch Zero, making it into a 2 1/2-inch stickbait, and affixed it onto a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig on Oct. 12, 2006, a slight transformation began to take place in the tackle trade. A few folks in the trade became aware of the needs of Midwest finesse anglers and the effectiveness of their tiny jigs and small soft-plastic baits. Z-Man Fishing Products of Ladson, South Carolina, was been in the forefront of this trend.
Z-Man's involvement stems from the fact they manufacture the Zero for Strike King, and they also manufacture the Zero's identical twin, which is called the ZinkerZ and sold under Z-Man's trademark. And since 2006, the Zero and ZinkerZ affixed to either a 1/16- or a 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig has been one of the cornerstone bait in Midwest finesse anglers' repertoire, as has Strike King's four-inch Super Finesse Worm and its identical twin, which is Z-Man's four-inch Finesse WormZ.
Consequently, Z-Man has made concerted efforts since 2010 to create soft-plastic baits that cater to the needs of Midwest finesse anglers. For instance, they created the Finesse ShadZ, Finesse T.R.D., Hula StickZ, and 3 1/2-inch GrubZ.
Besides developing and manufacturing finesse-sized soft-plastic baits, Z-Man worked on developing a mushroom-style jig on which Midwest anglers can affix a Finesse ShadZ, Finesse T.R.D., four-inch Finesse WormZ, Hula StickZ, and 3 1/2-inch GrubZ.
On Oct. 27, 2014, we published a gear guide about Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ, which is the mushroom-style jig that they created for Midwest finesse anglers and introduced to the angling world on July 15 at the 2014 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in Orlando, Florida.
In that gear guide, we noted Z-Man was in the process of creating a 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ, and that statement garnered a lot of applause from Midwest finesse anglers who ply flatland reservoirs and focus on shallow-water lairs. These anglers have found that a critical element in their approach to retrieving a jig and soft-plastic bait is to execute what they call a no-feel retrieve, and to accomplish that feat around shallow-water lairs, it must be done with a lightweight jig, such as a 1/20-ounce one.
Guido Hibdon of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, is one of the pioneers of Midwest finesse fishing, and years ago, he began preaching that most bass anglers "use too much weight. And, with too much weight the baits don't work right." Likewise, Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, who plies the rivers in eastern West Virginia for smallmouth bass, says the most effective way to catch vast numbers of riverine smallmouth bass throughout the year is to use a tiny jig that is dressed with a small Z-Man's soft-plastic bait.
At the 2015 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in Orlando, Florida, Z-Man introduce its 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ.
It possesses a nifty welded wire baitkeeper on the shank of a razor-sharp black nickel No. 2 hook.
It is available in black, green-pumpkin, and pearl. Anglers can acquire a package of five for $4.99.
(1) For anglers who ply deep-water lairs, Z-Man also introduced the 1/5-ounce Finesse ShroomZ at the 2015 ICAST show. And it is available in black, green pumpkin, and pearl. Anglers can acquire a package of five for $4.99.
(2) At the 2015 ICAST show, Z-Man also introduced the Finesse ShroomZ Weedless jig. It is endowed with a V-shaped, wire hook guard, as well as the wire keeper on the shank of the jig's hook.
It is available in three sizes: 1/10-, 1/6-, and 1/5-ounce, which is useful for anglers who ply deep-water lairs that are infested with snags. It is available in two colors: black and green pumpkin. A package of five cost $5.99. Of course, the Midwest finesse anglers who spend their days afloat plying shallow-water lairs in flatland reservoirs and eutrophic natural lakes hope that there are some 1/15-ounce and lighter Finesse ShroomZ Weedless jigs in the offing.
(3) Here is the link to the Oct. 27, 2014 gear guide about the Finesse ShroomZ: https://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/z-mans-shroomz/. It includes a significant amount of history about the jigs that Midwest finesse anglers have employed since the 1950s. It also features Drew Reese's work in helping Z-Man develop the Finesse ShroomZ. Reese is from Rantoul, Kansas, and Sioux Narrows, Ontario, and he is one of the forefathers of Midwest finesse fishing, which he calls light-line fishing rather than Midwest finesse fishing. (Others call it Midwest finesse fishing because it is different than the light-line and finesse tactics that the Japanese and West Coast anglers employ.)
(4) Here is a link to a column that examines the retrieves that Midwest finesse anglers employ with a soft-plastic-bait-and-jig combo: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/.