January 08, 2014
By Ned Kehde
A finesse worm has been a part of Midwest finesse fishing since that day more than a half of a century ago whenthe late Chuck Woods of Kansas City rigged one on a jig. Back in those days, Woods used a worm that Nick and Cosma Creme of Akron, Ohio, manufactured, and at times, Woods did a lot of trimming and customizing of the worms that he used.
He used a Magic Marker to alter the color of his worms, and Woods also used a tattered Creme worm to create the first Beetle. In our eyes, the Beetle on a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce jig was the first Senko-style bait. (It is also important to note that Woods was infatuated with jig spinners. And he, of course, added a jig spinner to his jig-and-Beetle combo, creating the celebrated Beetle Spin.) Hence, the Midwest finesse anglers' passion for customizing plastic worms stretches back many decades.
Thanks to Z-Man Fishing Products' 10X Tough ElaZtech soft plastics, Midwest finesse anglers wield finesse worms nowadays that would astonish and impress Woods. Not only is Z-Man's Finesse WormZ the most durable soft-plastic worm ever made, it is the most alluring one that Midwest finesse anglers have ever affixed to a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce jig, such as Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jigs.
In regard to its durablity and alluringness, I fished for a total of five hours at a heavily fished 195-acre community reservoir in northeastern Kansas on Mar. 26 and 27, 2012. Across those five hours, I use only one four-inch Finesse WormZ, which was rigged on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and that one alluring and durable worm inveigled 102 largemouth bass, seven crappie, one bluegill and about 24 bass that did not make it into the boat. (For more information, please see these two blogs: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/04/04/the-super-finesse-worm/ and http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/05/03/the-super-finesse-worm-an-update/.)
At the 2013 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades in Las Vegas on July 9-12, Z-Man introduced two new Finesse WormZ colors: Bloodworm, which some Midwest finesse anglers have described as a pumpkin hue highlighted with green flakes, and Morningwood, which a few anglers describe as being a combination of Z-Man's Bubble Gum, Menthiolate, and Neon Pink hues with blue flakes.
Some Midwest finesse anglers might be reluctant to wield a Morningwood Finesse WormZ, saying it is too gaudy and contending that they prefer subdued hues, such as green pumpkin or the new Blood Worm. But these hesitant anglers should be aware that a pair of Midwest finesse anglers bewitched an impressive array of northeastern Kansas smallmouth bass on one of Z-Man's Bubble Gum baits during the fall of 2013, and during the spring of 2013, some Midwest finesse anglers inveigled a goodly number of largemouth bass by employing one Z-Man's Bama Craw baits and Green Pumpkin/Orange baits, and the orange hues in both of those colors are extremely intense. What's more, Al Lindner of Brainerd, Minnesota, and In-Fisherman cofounder, has often been a devotee of using bright and gaudy colors -- especially for smallmouth bass. Daniel Nussbaum, who is Z-Man's general manager, said: "We got a lot of requests from anglers (such as our pro staff and anglers we've met on the road) for our Finesse WormZ in a translucent pink color with some blue highlights in it. This has been a very popular color for anglers who use drop-shot rigs in deep, clear waterways on West coast and the Southeast. For instance, at Lake Lanier Georgia, this color is popular in the summer when anglers target spotted bass with drop-shot rigs around brushpiles in 20 to 30 feet of water. I don't know how useful it will be for shallow-water finesse techniques, but that the pink-blue combination has been a hot color in certain fisheries."
As 2014 unfolds, we will attempt to spent more time working with exotic colors, and we hope to post some updates about the effectiveness of the Morningwood hue, as well as some of Z-Man's orange combinations. And throughout these days to come, we will take some hints from Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, who is fond of using what he calls a mango-colored finesse worm and customized Senko-style bait that he affixes to a tiny jig.
Z-Man manufactures the Finesse WormZ in two sizes.
The favorite one in Midwest finesse circles is the four-inch one, which actually is 4 3/4-inches long. Consequently, Midwest finesse anglers trim three-quarters of an inch off of its head before they affix it to a Gopher jig.
The second one is a seven-incher, which is about 6 1/2-inches long, and Midwest finesse anglers usually trim 2 1/2 inches off of its head, making it a four-inch worm. The 2 1/2-inch segment of is head is used as if it were Senko-style bait on a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It is severed immediately below the clitellum or egg sack, and when an angler affixes it to a Gopher jig, the clitellum becomes the head and is affixed to the collar of the Gopher jig. The four-inch tail section is used as a worm, and this tail section is fatter or bulkier than the 4 3/4-inch Finesse WormZ. That bulkiness gives it a different profile and action than its skinner sibling. At times, some Midwest finesse anglers trim three inches off the head of the seven-inch Finesse WormZ, and they use that three-inch segment as a skinny Senko-style bait, calling it their replacement for Z-Man's Rain MinnowZ, which Z-Man stopped manufacturing in 2012.
A package of 10 four-inch Morningwood or Bloodworm Finesse WormZs can be purchased from Z-Man's website for $5.49, and a package of eight seven-inchers can be acquired for $5.49. Use this link for store access: zmanfishing.com/store/categories/elaztech/finesse_wormz.