For years on end, we have written a multitude of words about how a soft-plastic crayfish has played a significant role in the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers. We have noted time and again that it began a couple years after Dion Hibdon of Versailles, Missouri, created a soft-plastic crayfish for his school's science project in 1977.
Dion's creation eventually was named the Guido Bug in honor of his father, the late and great Guido Hibdon. For years on end, the Hibdons handmade thousands of three- and 3 3/4-inch Guido Bugs, and Guido used them often during his stellar career as a tournament angler, a fishing guide, and a recreational angler. Ultimately, Guido taught us how to rig the three-incher on a lightweight jig, wield it on spinning tackle with light line, and inveigle an impressive array of black bass.
Z-Man Fishing Products has created what looks to be a stellar addition to this grand crayfish tradition. It is called the Finesse TRD CrawZ.
Since Dion Hibdon created the first one by submerging a crayfish into a small bowel of plaster of paris, all the soft-plastic crayfish that the computer-aided designers have generated are abstract renditions of a live one. But in the eyes of several Midwest finesse anglers, Z-Man's version does not look as abstract as the scores and scores of soft-plastic crayfish that have preceded it. In fact, when we take a quick glance at the TRD CrawZ, it looks like many of the small crayfish that the Hibdon family used to trap and seine in Gravois Creek and other small Ozarks streams that eventually meander into the Lake of the Ozarks. As fishing guides before the advent of the Guido Bug, the Hibdons impaled many thousands of live crayfish onto a No. 4 claw-style hook. That hook pierced one of the somites near the tip of the abdomen and slightly above the uropods and telson that constitute a crayfish's fan tail. And they employed the crayfish on a split-shot rig.
Midwest finesse anglers will rig Z-Man's new creation onto a mushroom-style jig, such as Z-Man's 1/20- , 1/15-, and 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jigs or TT Lures' 1/15- and 1/10-ounce NedlockZ HD Jigheads.
From the tip of its chelipeds or claws to the end of its abdomen, the TRD CrawZ is 2 1/2-inches long.
Its cephalothorax, which encompasses its head and thorax, is one and one-eighth inches long. The carapace or the dorsal's shell of the cephalothorax possesses a subtle cephalic groove, and it is embellished with the tubercules or small pimples that embellish the carapace of some crayfish. The curvature of the TRD CrawZ's cephalothorax is quite realistic. Except for the tubercules, the entire cephalothorax's dorsal and ventral areas are smooth. The ventral is relatively flat.
Its two front walking legs, which sport the chelipeds or claws, are one and five-sixteenths inches long. Each cheliped is about one inch long and three-eighths of an inch wide at the widest spot. Like the curvature of it cephalothorax, the chelipeds are quite realistic. The front two walking legs extend from each side of the head section of the cephalothorax and below and slightly behind the eyes.
Like a real crayfish, it possesses eight more walking legs, but the TRD CrawZ's eight walking legs are miniaturized. They are a quarter of an inch long, and they are devoid of joints. Four legs extend from each side of the cephalothorax and near the junction of the dorsal and ventral areas. These walking legs are so small that they are apt to be called swimmerets, which are appendages that adorn the ventral section of a real crayfish's abdomen.
Unlike a real crayfish, the TRD CrawZ is adorned with one antennule rather than two, and it is devoid of the two antennae that radiate for the tip of the head of a real crayfish. But its rostrum and two compound eyes, which are quite small, are realistic.
The TRD CrawZ's abdomen is encircled with four somites or segments rather than the five that adorn the abdomen of a real crayfish. Its abdomen is a half of an inch long. It is round shaped, and it has a one-and-one-eighth-inch circumference. The ventral area of the abdomen is devoid of the swimmerets that a real crayfish possesses.
It is devoid of telson, epodities, and endopodites that form a real crayfish's fan tail. The tip of the abdomen is flat, which expedites affixing the TRD CrawZ to the hook and head of a mushroom-style jig. Instead of a fan tail, each side of the last three somites or segments are graced with a small and flat triangle-shaped appendage that exhibits the looks of a crayfish's fan tail when it is folded or tucked under its abdomen. The two triangle-shaped appendages are one-eighth of an inch by a half of an inch by five-sixteenths of an inch. The tip of the abdomen is five-sixteenths of an inch wide, and it has a one-and-one-sixteenth-inch circumference.
Joe Raymond of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who is the proprietor of Susquehanna Smallmouth Guides, and Luke Clausen of Otis Orchards, Washington, who is a talented and successful tournament angler, have field tested the TRD CrawZ and the prototypes of it. And they are impressed with its effectiveness.
It is constructed with a material that Z-Man calls ElaZtech, which is buoyant and incredibly durable. Because it is not impregnated with salt, its buoyancy and durability are enhanced. What's more, it is exceptionally soft and pliable, and when it is affixed to a jig with a small and exposed hook, the cephalothorax section, two front legs, and chelipeds or claws move beguilingly. Daniel Nussbaum of Charleston, South Carolina, who is president of Z-Man, says the TRD CrawZ's buoyancy allows it to descend from the surface to the bottom more slowly than crayfish that are manufactured with plastisol. And across the years, Midwest finesse anglers have found that slow descents are often a critical element in the way we present a soft-plastic bait to largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass.
The two triangle-shaped appendages at the end of the abdomen and the smooth and relatively flat ventral area of the cephalothorax will allow the TRD CrawZ to swim and glide alluringly during a variety of Midwest finesse retrieves.
It is available in 11 colors: Black/Blue, Bloodworm, Canada Craw, Drew's Craw, Greasy Prawn, Green Pumpkin, Molting Craw, Motor Oil, Mudbug, The Deal, and Watermelon Red.
A package of six costs $4.49, and we think that a package of six should have the wherewithal to endure donnybrooks with 300 or more black bass. According to Nussbaum, anglers will be able to buy them in August.
If Guido Hibdon were still alive and fishing, we suspect that the TRD CrawZ would catch his astute and critical eyes, and he would be impressed, saying that it looks amazingly similar to the 2 1/2- and three-inch crayfish that inhabit northern Ozark creeks that he and his family used to traipse about and in.
(1) Here is the link to Z-Man Fishing Products' website: https://www.zmanfishing.com/cms/index.php.
(2) Here is a link to Daniel Nussbaum's report about his trip to the Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada, where he used the TRD CrawZ to beguile an array of smallmouth bass and walleye: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/z-man-goes-to-canada-part-3/.
(3) Here is a link to Cory Schmidt's Traditions Media story about the TRD Craw and Z-Man's Finess BulltetZ Weedless Jighead: http://www.icontact-archive.com/jjiXoF3Cf8NfV-NNtAkNpWY-7ODXPWFe?w=4.