February 24, 2017
By Ned Kehde
On Oct. 22, 2016, we spent five hours and 33 minutes watching Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Oklahoma, employ his much heralded bottom-bugging tactics with a big soft-plastic creature bait affixed to a big swinging-head jig.
Since then, we have been pondering about how, when, and where Midwest Finesse anglers can adopt and modify Biffle's power tactics and make them suitable to use with our spinning outfits and finesse tactics. During this spell, we have been searching for relatively small soft-plastic creature baits that we can affix to a small mushroom-style jig. And we recently crossed paths with Z-Man Fishing Products' Boar HogZ.
As 2017 unfolds, we are hoping to spend a lot of time developing a Midwest Finesse version of Biffle's bottom-bugging ways, and one of the soft-plastic baits that we will work with is the four-inch Boar HogZ.
Its tail is cylinder-shaped and a quarter of an inch long. Some anglers might call its tail the head, but in our eyes it is somewhat crayfish-like, and when we fish with a soft-plastic crayfish, we affix the hook of the mushroom-style jig into its tail.
Its torso is 1 3/4-inches long, and it is encircled with 27 delicate ribs. Four appendages radiate from each side of its torso. Three of the appendages are a half of an inch long, and they abstractly replicate the swimmerets that adorn the anatomy of a crayfish's abdomen. The other appendage is about three-quarters of an inch long, and it is shaped somewhat like a pectoral fin of a small fish. These two fin-like appendages are situated along the side of the torso about a quarter of an inch from the junction of the Boar HogZ's pointed and cone-shaped head.
The top and bottom of its head is embossed with 20 tiny pimple-like protrusions.
An abstract claw branches out from each side of its head. Each claw is curled. In its curled format, the claw is 1 1/2 inches long, and when it is uncurled and relatively strait, it becomes 2 3/4 inches long. The claws are thin and flat, and the top and bottom of each claw is engraved with a series of minute ribs.
If and when the claws are fully extended, the Boar HogZ becomes about 5 1/4 inches long.
Across the years that we have been describing the soft-plastic baits that Midwest finesse anglers have been using since the 1950s, we have explained that these anglers have been inveterate customizers. And it is likely that a goodly number of Midwest finesse anglers who employ the Boar HogZ will perform some slight alternations by shortening it a touch before they affix it to a mushroom-style jig.
After we watched Biffle execute his bottom-bugging tactics along scores of flat, shallow, rock-laden points and shorelines, we wrote and published a Midwest Finesse column about it. And here is a description of how he does it: He makes an extremely long cast. And as soon as his rig touched the surface of the water, he starts to retrieve it. He turns the reel handle as quickly as he can while allowing his rig to have almost constant contact with the bottom. If he cannot feel it, he will slow down the pace of the retrieve until he can feel his rig ricocheting off of the rocks. In the past, some anglers described this kind of retrieve as polishing the rocks. During each retrieve, he never made a pause as he rotated the reel handle. The pace of his retrieve is similar to the speed that a lipless crankbait is retrieved around and across similar flat, shallow, and rocky terrains.
The Midwest finesse anglers that ply the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas have many acres of flat, shallow, rock-laden points and shorelines that they can try to execute a finesse version of Biffle's bottom-bugging method. To do this, these anglers will affix a Boar HogZ to a jig like a 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ, and some anglers might even employ a 1/6-ounce Finesse ShroomZ.
And when these Midwest finesse anglers are not bottom bugging, they can rig the Boar HogZ on a smaller mushroom-style jig, such as a 1/20- or a 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ. When it is affixed to the smaller jigs, it can be used on all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves.
The folks at Z-Man say the rigging options with the Boar HogZ are nearly limitless, and they manufacture it in the following colors: Black Blue Flake, Bama Bug, California Craw, Canada Craw, Green Pumpkin, Junebug, Molting Craw, Mudbug, Watermelon, and Watermelon Red.
It is not impregnated with salt, which enhances its buoyancy and underwater gyrations. And because it is manufactured from a material that is called ElaZtech, it is extremely durable, which allows an angler to catch scores and scores of black bass before it is too tattered and torn to remain affixed to the jig.
Anglers can purchase a package of five for $4.99.
We suspect that a package of five should endure donnybrooks with at least 200 black bass. In the months to come, we hope to write an update to this gear guide, and we will make a note or two about the durability of the Boar HogZ.
(1) For a mega-Midwest finesse approach to bottom bugging, anglers might try wielding a customized Z-Man's Palmetto BugZ affixed to a 1/6-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. See the photograph below.
(2) For an ultra-Midwest finesse method of bottom bugging, anglers can try working with a Z-Man's BatwingZ affixed to a 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig. See the photograph below.
Here is a link to a gear guide that we published about the BatwingZ: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/z-man-fishing-products-batwingz/.
(3) Z-Man is currently working on a finesse version of the BoarHogZ, and one field-tester has found the prototype to be a very effective Midwest finesse bait when it is rigged on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. In the eyes of some old-time Midwest finesse anglers, it is reminiscent of the late Chuck Woods' great Puddle Jumper. Here is a photograph of the Puddle Jumper, which is at the top, and the prototype that is one the bottom.