For several years, we have been singing about the manifold virtues of Z-Man's Fishing Products' 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and Strike King Lure Company's Zero. Both are five-inch Senko-style baits that Z-Man manufactures, and we cut them in half, making them 2 1/2-inches long and affix them to a jig, such as a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.
We began using this combo for largemouth bass on Oct. 12, 2006, and since that outing, it has been one of the primary largemouth and smallmouth bass baits in our Midwest finesse repertoire.
Then its virtues were discovered by anglers who pursued species other than black bass. For instance, we noted in a blog on Oct. 20, 2011, that anglers, such as Dave Schmidtlein of Topeka, Kansas, have found it to be an effective crappie bait. Schmidtlein affixes the 2 1/1-inch ZinkerZ to either an 1/8- or 1/4-ounce homemade jig. On one of the ends of the ZinkerZ, he cuts four tentacles, and when he attaches it to the jig, the tentacles are positioned on the jig's collar and adjacent to the head of the jig. According to Schmidtlein, this rigging allows the bait to fall more slowly and alluringly, making it virtually snag-free around rock-laden lairs. When he is probing brush piles, he affixes the tip of one of the tentacles to the point of the jig's hook, making it into a weed guard. (Since the summer of 2012, Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri, has used Z-Man's new Hula StickZ , which is a ZinkerZ with four factory-made tentacles, to catch astronomical numbers of crappie that abide in the Ozark reservoirs that he regularly fishes. Ward trims two inches off the head of the Hula StickZ and affixes it on a jig with the tentacles extending from the end of the jig rather than affixed to the jig's collar as Schmidtlein does.)
In addition to alluring crappie, the jig and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ combo is what Midwest finesse anglers use when they bass fish for trout in March and bass fish for channel catfish in May.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="This is one of many rainbow trout that Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and other Midwest finesse anglers catch on a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. This trout that Desch inveigled has a ZinkerZ lodged in the corner of its mouth."][/caption]
From fall of 2006 through the fall of 2011, Midwest finesse anglers inadvertently caught white bass and wipers on a 2 1/2-inch while they were largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing, but they never considered it to be the best bait to allure temperate bass. But during the fall of 2012, the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ became Dave Weroha of Kansas City and Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, most productive white bass bait.
Holscher is a multispecies guide, and throughout the fall of 2012, 19 guide trips of his guide trips were focused on catching white bass. On these outings, his clients caught 1,117 white bass, and their most effective bait was the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig. The two best ZinkerZ colors for Holscher and his clients were either pearl or hot chartreuse.
Weroha fished 11 times. He and his partners tangled with 788 white bass, and Weroha's most productive bait was a watermelon/white 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
According to Holscher and Weroha, a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ will play a significant role in their fall white bass repertoire from now on. Moreover, Holscher is eager to test the ZinkerZ during the white bass spawning run in the spring of 2013, and if it works, we will post another ZinkerZ update.