July 23, 2019
By Ned Kehde
When Z-Man Fishing Products announced to the angling world that it created the TRD BugZ, several old-time Midwest finesse anglers became smitten with it immediately.
For a decade or so, these old guys have been in search of their ideal miniature creature-style bait that possesses an appendage that they call a beaver-style tail. And in their eyes, Z-Man’s TRD BugZ looks to be an ideal one.
Daniel Nussbaum of Charleston, South Carolina, who is the president of Z-Man, sent us some samples to use and examine.
As we used and examined them, we exchanged several emails with Nussbaum about the TRD BugZ.
Here is what we discovered about it:
It is a miniaturized version of Z-Man’s Palmetto BugZ, and it is the brainchild of Z-Man pro staffer and Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour angler Luke Clausen of the Spokane Valley, Washington. In his eyes and from his vast experiences, he knew it would be an excellent addition to Z-Man’s Midwest finesse lure lineup, equaling the effectiveness and popularity of its bigger sibling.
It is 2 11/16 inches long.
Its head is minute and somewhat dome shaped, possessing a width of one-quarter of an inch and a height of about three-sixteenths of an inch. This is where Midwest finesse anglers will insert the hook and collar of a mushroom-style jig.
Its torso is 1 9/16 inches long with 17 ribs, and it is what some folks describe as a pear-shaped body. The ribs encircle 1 5/16 inches of the torso. The four-sixteenths of an inch of the torso that is devoid of the ribs is situated at the end of its posterior section, and its epidermis is smooth. At the first rib, the torso is five-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about fifteen-sixteenths of an inch. The largest portion of the torso is situated near the tenth rib and about fifteen-sixteenths of an inch from the tip of the head, and it is nine-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 5/8 inches. At the seventeenth rib, the torso is three-eighths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/4 inches. The ventral portion of the torso is indented or concaved with what Nussbaum described as a hook slot, which is about 1 1/4 inches long and about one-eighth of an inch wide at its widest spot. Its dorsal area is slightly convexed.
A small appendage radiates from each side of the seventeenth rib. Some folks describe the shape of these two appendages as leaf like, and others call it kite shaped. These appendages are flat like a kite and a leaf. They are three-quarter of an inch long, one-half of an inch wide at its widest spot, and one-sixteenth of an inch thick. Each side or edge of the appendage is adorned with four leaf-like teeth. Each of the flat sides are adorned with tiny veins like a leaf’s veins.
A major appendage radiates from the end of the torso’s posterior section. It is thin and flat. In essence, it is two appendages that are linked together at their tips by a small bubble of ElaZtech, which allows them to simulate the profile of a beaver’s tail. When that ElaZtech bubble is severed, the beaver-style tail is split in half, and these twin-tail appendages create a scissor-like movement in the water rather than the subtle fluttering, thumbing, flapping, and gliding movement of the beaver-style tail. It is 1 1/4 inches long. When it is not split in half, it is one-half of an inch wide at its widest spot, and when it is split, each appendage is one-quarter of an inch wide at its widest spot. It is about one-sixteenth of an inch thick at its thickest spot. Each outside edge is adorned with 15 saw-tooth-like features. The inside edges of the twin-tail appendages are smooth. The epidermis of the dorsal and ventral areas is identical, and they are embossed with scores of tiny pimples.
It is manufactured in the following hues: Bama Bug, Black/Blue, California Craw, Canada Craw, The Deal, Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin/Orange, Hot Craw, Hot Snakes, Junebug, Mudbug, and Sprayed Grass.
It is impregnated with salt, and 15 percent of its body weight consists of salt. And it is exceptionally buoyant.
It is packaged in a state-of-the-art system, and the suggested retail price for a package of six is $4.49.
They are extremely durable, and we suspect that a package of them will allow a Midwest finesse angler to enjoy about 600 donnybrooks with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or spotted bass before he has to purchase another package of six.
They are a frugal angler’s dream come true.
In our repertoire, we have 27 soft-plastic baits that we periodical affixed to our small mushroom-style jigs. Each one has its day. Sometimes, its effectiveness reigns for consecutive days, and there have been spells when it has reigned for weeks on end. But for some unknown reasons, there will be days and even weeks and months when a particular Midwest finesse bait will not be effective. And that is why, we keep elaborate logs. These logs provide us with historical details about when these baits are effective. To supplement the logs, we usually have six (and sometimes more) of the 27 soft-plastic baits at the ready during each outing, and we test them.
In other words, it is unlikely that the TRD BugZ will inveigle vast numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass every day of the year. But it looks as if it will have its days, weeks, and perhaps months as being one of our most effective Midwest finesse rigs.
When Midwest finesse anglers affix a mushroom-style jig, such as Z-Man’s 1/20- or 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, to the TRD BugZ, they will be able to employ all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves and slight variations of those retrieves.
The concaved ventral area of the TRD BugZ’s torso, its flat beaver-style tail, and its buoyancy will accentuate its ability to slowly glide as Midwest finesse anglers execute their various retrieves.
(1) Here is the link to the Midwest Finesse column that describes how to employ the six Midwest finesse retrieves: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/153946.
(2) In the months to come, anglers can discover how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers used the TRD BugZ by reading the logs that are published in our monthly guides to Midwest finesse fishing. Here is the link to that Internet site: https://www.in-fisherman.com/listing/learn-midwest-finesse/83225.
(3) Here is a link to Z-Man’s website: https://zmanfishing.com/cms/elaztech-plastics.
(4) Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, is a member and contributor to the Finesse News Network.
He employs a variety of Midwest finesse tactics to inveigle the hundreds and hundreds of smallmouth bass that he pursues in the streams that grace the landscape of northeastern West Virginia.
He is an inveterate customizer of the soft-plastic baits that he affixes to the small jigs that he employs.
And in a June 4 email, he described how he will customize the TRD BugZ.
He will use a pair of Fiskars scissors to cut the head and the anterior and posterior sections of the torso in half by following the line of the hook slot.
Then he will remove both of the small appendages that radiate from the seventeenth rib of the torso.
After he removes those two appendages, he severs that small bubble of ElaZtech that holds the tip of the TRD BugZ’s flat tail together.
From one TRD BugZ, he has created two baits, which placates his frugal nature.
He calls this customized TRD BugZ a pint-sized grub.
When he affixes the customized TRD BugZ to a jig, the former side of the torso will become the dorsal area, and the jig’s hook will radiate from it.
The cut portion of the torso, which is flat, will become its ventral area.
The tail will be vertical rather than horizontal, replicating the profile of a small fish rather than the aquatic-creature profile of the TRD BugZ.