October 22, 2016
Z-Man Fishing Products introduced its 1/8-ounce ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig to the angling world at the International Convention of Allied Sportsfishing Trades show at Orlando, Florida, on July 12-15.
During the past decade, Z-Man has created a number of baits that have become an integral part of Midwest finesse tactics, and perhaps their ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig will spawn a rebirth of the skirted jig and trailer in various provinces of Midwest finesse fishing.
Back in the early days of Midwest finesse fishing, which stretch back into the 1960s, a tiny jig embellished with either a bucktail or a marabou skirt played a pivotal role in many of our outings. Invariably, the color of our jigs was black. Some of them were 1/16-ounce jigs and others were 1/8-ouncers.
To our jigs, we attached a tiny piece of a black pork rind, which we called an eel.
Pedigo and Uncle Josh manufactured the eels that we used. They were six inches long. Therefore, we had to customize, trim, and sculpt them to make them 2 1/2 to three inches long.
From the get go, Midwest finesse anglers have had to be customizers. The reason for that was because the manufacturers did not make the baits we needed. Not only did we shorten the eels, some of us forked the tips of their tails. What's more, some anglers made multiple incisions in the tips of the tails of their eels, creating several tentacles, and although many of these tentacles were rather crudely cut, they were somewhat similar to the tentacles of a tube, such as the late Bobby Garland's Gitzit, which was the first tube that we used.
And when Uncle Josh began manufacturing their No. 101 Spinning Frog, we customized it a tad and affixed it onto the hook of either a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce skirted jig.
These rigs were affectionately called a jig and pig.
Ultimately, the pork was replaced by a soft-plastic trailer, such as Guido Hibdon's Guido Bug, which replicated a crayfish. And the marabou or bucktail skirts became either rubber or silicone.
After the turn of the millennium, the skirted jig and trailer for some unknown reason became a seldom used tool in the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers. But perhaps the ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig will spawn a rebirth of the skirted jig and trailer with Midwest finesse anglers.
Z-Man's new finesse jig is adorned with a 100-percent silicone skirt. The skirt is affixed to the head of the mushroom-style jig with a rubber skirt collar. Some of the skirt's silicone strands are two inches long, and the others are about 1 1/2 inches long. Many Midwest finesse anglers will shorten the length of the skirt a touch by trimming it with a pair of scissors. But Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, who is a veteran Midwest finesse angler and has wielded a skirted jig and trailer since the early jig-and-pig days, does not shorten it, saying in his eyes its length is perfect.
Radiating from the top and back of the head are two wire weed or hook guards, which are in the shape of a V. The guards are stiff, and anglers will need to widen the V, and push them downward so that the wires are slightly below the tip of the point of the hook.
Along the bottom of the shank of the hook, a bait keeper extends from the collar of the head of the jig.
The jig's mushroom-style head is affixed to a black-nickel hook. The size of the hook is a No. 1.
The folks at Z-Man have successfully used several kinds of trailers on the ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig, such as Z-Man's Finesse T.R.D. and Z-Man's CrusteaZ, on it.
But Midwest finesse anglers say they will dress it with a variety of Z-Man's ElaZtech baits, such as a Scented Leech, a shortened Z-Man's Finesse WormZ, a BatwingZ, a shortened Big T.R.D., and a T.R.D. TubeZ. Several veteran Midwest finesse anglers said that the first trailer that they will test on it is the two-inch Strike Lure Company's Denny Brauer Bitsy Chunk, which Z-Man manufactures for Strike King, and in these anglers' eyes, the Bitsy Chunk is the traditional trailer for a silicone-skirted jig.
In addition to the 1/8-ounce one, Z-Man makes a 3/16-ounce ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig. They are made in the following colors: Black Blue, Candy Craw, Green Pumpkin, Moccasin Craw, PB&J, and Pond Scum.
Anglers can purchase a package of two for $4.99.
(1) In our Sept. 5 Midwest Finesse column, we featured a report from the Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada, by Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina, and president of Z-Man Fishing Products. He noted that the 1/8-ounce ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig with a Finesse T.R.D. as a trailer caught bigger smallmouth bass than the other Midwest finesse rigs that he and Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, used. Here is the link to that column: http://www.in-fisherman.com/gear-accessories/z-man-goes-to-canadaagain.
In a Sept. 9 email, Nussbaum wrote: "I initially thought the weedguards may be too stiff until I actually fished the jigs. Once I fished them a bit, I found that they really didn't reduce the hookup ratio at all. I spread them apart at about a 45- degree angle from each other (maybe a bit more) and bend them so they're just barely forward of the hook point. I feel that that this allows the weedguards to deflect off snags from the sides but also allows for easy hooksets because the weedguards don't have to be pushed down much to expose the hook point. I honestly have had no problems whatsoever hooking fish on these jigs. If anglers feel the weedguards are too stiff, they can easily trim off on or both of the weedguards, but again, this hasn't been an issue so far."
(2) Here is a link to a hair-jig column that we published on Nov. 15, 2014: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/winter-hair-jig-time/.
(3) Here are two links to two Midwest Finesse columns that feature how and where Brian Waldman uses his hair jigs in Indiana:
Photographs of the ShroomZ Micro Finesse Jig with different trailers