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Z-Man's Big T.R.D.

Z-Man's Big T.R.D.

Since Oct. 12, 2006, the ancestors and siblings to Z-Man Fishing Products' new Big T.R.D. have played a significant role in the way Midwest finesse anglers fish and catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass.

For six decades, Midwest finesse anglers have trimmed and customized all kinds of soft-plastic baits. For instance, when they acquired their first package of Z-Man's ZinkerZs, which are five-inch stickbaits, they cut them in half, making them 2 1/2-inches long. They also stretched them and soaked them in water to remove the salt that is impregnated in the ElaZtech material from which the ZinkerZ is manufactured. (It needs to be noted that some Midwest finesse anglers cut them and make two-inch baits out of them. Other anglers make 2 1/4-inch ZinkerZs. And a few Midwest finesse anglers cut them and make three-inch or slightly longer ones.)

For years on end, Midwest finesse anglers have been affixing the ZinkerZ to a mushroom-style jig.

These anglers quickly discovered that the ZinkerZ is an incredibly durable soft-plastic bait, allowing some Midwest finesse anglers to tangle with 50 to 100 black bass with the same ZinkerZ. These anglers also learned that the older and more tattered and torn the ZinkerZ became the more effective it was at alluring largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. And to keep a tattered-and-torn ZinkerZ affixed to the collar and head of the jig some of the anglers use super glue, and a few others, who do not like super glue, used 140 denier fly-tying thread and a fly-tying bobbin to make one loop of thread and two half-hitch knots around the part of the ZinkerZ at the lead collar of the mushroom-style jig. (The tattered-and-torn phenomenon is also an important element with the other Z-Man's soft-plastic baits, such as the Finesse WormZ, FattyZ, Finesse T.R.D., and Hula StickZ, that Midwest finesse anglers employ.)

At the behest of anglers outside of the tiny world of Midwest finesse fishing, Z-Man created the Big T.R.D. These anglers wanted a bigger bait that they could wield on a Carolina rig, on a wacky rig, and on a Texas-style slip-sinker rig that can be used to flip and pitch it into various kinds of quagmires that largemouth bass abide in.

Z-Man also created a bigger mushroom-style jig for anglers to affix it on, and it is called the Power Finesse ShroomZ. These jigs sport a 3/0 hook. There are two styles of Power Finesse ShroomZs: one with a weed guard and one without a weed guard.

In essence, the aim of the Big T.R.D. and rationale for creating it revolves around the desire of these anglers to catch bigger black bass than those that Midwest finesse anglers catch on the Finesse T.R.D.

The Big T.R.D. is 4 1/8 inches long. Thus, it is an eighth of an inch longer than the Hula StickZ, 1 7/16 inches longer than the Finesse T.R.D., 1 5/16 inches longer than the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, and 1 3/8 inches longer than the 2 3/4-inch tail of a FattyZ.

Its torso is round, and it is essentially a ballpoint-pen-shaped bait. The tip of its head is flat. The upper portion of its torso is encompassed with scores of minuscule rings; this section is about one and nine-sixteenths of an inch long. The rest of the torso is embellished with scores of tiny bumps or tubercules, which are similar to the ones that are found on parts of a crayfish's exoskeleton. The torso narrows as it approaches the tip of its tail, exhibiting the features of a retractable ballpoint pen with the tip of the pin retracted. The tip of the tail is somewhat dome shaped.

Like all of the ElaZtech baits that Z-Man makes, the Big T.R.D. is extremely durable. For example, my wife, Patty, used the same green-pumpkin-goby Big T.R.D. for six days while we were fishing together during the last week of July in the Northwoods of Minnesota.

She was impressed with not only its durability but with its ability to inveigle largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. It also endured several entanglements with northern pike.

She is not a power angler, and her Midwest finesse instincts provoked her to trim about an inch off of the head portion of its torso. She also stretched and soaked it in water to remove some of the impregnated salt. Then she affixed it to a black 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.


his is the green-pumpkin-goby Big T.R.D. and black 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ that Pat Kehde used in Minnesota.

She used it on a spinning rod and reel that was spooled with 10-pound-test braided line and a six-foot leader made out of 12-pound-test fluorocarbon line. She employed a retrieve that she calls a slow-roll-and-deadstick presentation around laydowns, lily pads, and patches of wild rice, where the water was four to five feet deep.

She accomplished this task by making accurate casts and delicate pitches to strategic spots along the edges and pockets of the laydowns and patches of lily pads and wild rice.

Once her Big T.R.D. rig reached the bottom, she employed a deadstick presentation for four to five seconds. Then she made three slow rotations of the reel handle. After the third rotation, she paused and allowed the Big T.R.D. rig to glide and fall to the bottom, and she deadsticked it again for a few seconds. After the second deadstick presentation, she slowly rotated the reel handle, which allowed the Big T.R.D. to swim and glide six to 10 inches above the bottom, and she did this until the rig was 10 to 15 feet from the spot where she placed her cast. There were also times when she employed the standard Midwest finesse drag-and-deadstick presentation.

ElaZtech is a buoyant material, and when it is stretched and soaked, it becomes even more buoyant. And Patty noted that the Big T.R.D.'s buoyancy allowed the tip of its tail to be pointed up at almost a 90-degree angle from the bottom when she was executing the deadstick part of her retrieve. She was also impressed with the way it glided to the bottom on its drop from the surface after she completed her cast, and she attributed this seductive glide to its buoyant nature.

This is one of the hefty largemouth bass that Pat Kehde caught in Minnesota. Part of the Big T.R.D. and Finesse ShroomZ can been seen on the lips of the bass' mouth.

Even though it was created for the power-fishing fraternity, it looks as if the Big T.R.D. will play a role in the tactics that Midwest finesse anglers employ. Of course, some of them, perhaps many of them, will customize it a touch.

It is impregnated with salt, and 25 percent of its body weight is salt, which many Midwest finesse anglers remove by stretching and soaking the Big T.R.D. in water.

It is available in the following colors: Black/Blue Flake, Blue Claw, California Craw, Canada Craw, Coppertreuse, The Deal, Green Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin Goby, Junebug, Molting Craw, Mudbug, and PB&J.

Anglers can purchase a package of six for $4.49, and one package should catch at least 300 black bass before the last one is torn to smithereens.


(1) On Aug 24, Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina, who is president of Z-Man Fishing Products, sent us an email loaded with details about the Big T.R.D.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his email:

Since we introduced the Finesse T.R.D. two years ago, we have had numerous requests from anglers — both professional and recreational — for a larger size of the same profile to attract larger fish and help weed out some of the bites from smaller fish and non-target species that the Finesse T.R.D. produces. Also, several of our professional anglers have asked for a smaller version of the ZinkerZ for Texas and wacky rigging (but because the Big T.R.D. has a lower salt content than our ZinkerZ, it needs a weighted wacky jig to get it to sink for this style of fishing). This is where the idea for the Big T.R.D.was born.

Along with the Big T.R.D., we also introduced our new Power Finesse ShroomZ, which features a 3/0 hook made from a heavier gauge wire than our Finesse ShroomZ. It is designed to match up perfectly with the four-inch profile of the Big T.R.D. Many anglers rely on a shaky-head-jig-and-worm rig, and the Big T.R.D. paired with the Power Finesse ShroomZ offers anglers an alternative to the traditional shaky-head-jig-and-worm rig. This jig possesses an exposed hook and a bait keeper that holds the Big T.R.D. securely in place. We also have a Power Finesse ShroomZ with a weed guard and an exposed hook. The durability of the Big T.R.D. affixed to a Power Finesse ShroomZ is remarkable.

During testing, I personally found that the Big T.R.D. rigged on either a 1/10-or 1/6-ounce Power Finesse ShroomZ combo skips much better than the Finesse T.R.D. and Finesse ShroomZ rig, so I prefer it for fishing around docks. For whatever reason, I have also found that the larger profile draws more strikes than the smaller bait on some days, and it definitely minimizes the bites from small panfish as well.

(2) One angler reported that he likes to rig the Big T.R.D. as a trailer on Z-Man's new ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig. Here is a photograph of an 1/8-ounce green-pumpkin ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig with a Canada Craw Big T.R.D. as a trailer.


(3) Other anglers describe it as a multifaceted bait, and they note that it is especially effective when it is rigged wacky style with an O-ring.

(4) Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, is a veteran Midwest finesse angler and multispecies guide, and he has been wielding the Big T.R.D. for several weeks. Here is a photograph of a largemouth bass that he caught on Sept. 19 by using The Deal Big T.R.D. affixed to a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.


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