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Z-Man's TroutTrick

Z-Man's TroutTrick


I am 75 years old, and since the late 1940s, I have seen and used a plethora of hard-plastic, soft-plastic, hair, feather, fur, pork, and wood baits. A few of them have caught myriads of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. But a goodly number of them have been ineffective.

Because I have seen so many new baits come and go, I rarely get excited nowadays when I first see and examine a new one. But I must confess that I became a tad excited when I first laid my eyes on and then touched Z-Man Fishing Products' TroutTrick. I have yet to execute a cast and a retrieve with a TroutTrick, but at this moment it looks and feels as if it could become one of the stellar soft-plastic baits in the world of Midwest finesse fishing.

As its name indicates, it was not created for Midwest finesse anglers to use to catch largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Instead, it is hailed as the preeminent bait for inveigling spotted seatrout, and it is especially effective when the spotted seatrout are lethargic or unresponsive. Besides its gift for waylaying spotted seatrout, it has exhibited the ability to allure scores of other saltwater species that inhabit inshore milieus.

The Trout Trick is the creation of Bob Sanders of Memphis, Tennessee.  Until he was afflicted with health woes a few years ago, he resided  in Walterboro, South Carolina, and  competed in the bass tournament world. He was also a noted saltwater guide, who chased saltwater denizens from South Carolina to Florida. He also manufactured the TroutTrick from 2008 until Z-Man acquired it in 2015.

Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina, is Z-Man Fishing Products' general manager and executive vice president, and in a Dec. 30, 2015, email, he wrote that Sanders based the TroutTrick design on a soft-plastic bait that he used in his bass tournament pursuits. Nussbaum said he did not know the exact details about the bait or who manufactured it. But when it was no longer manufactured, Sanders made the molds for the TroutTrick and manufactured it.  He also spread the word about its effectiveness for inveigling seatrout, as well as how, when, and where to use it to catch them.  Nussbaum noted that it is ironic that it was originally designed as a black bass bait, but Sanders and other anglers found it to be more effective for seatrout than black bass. (But of course, it is unlikely that Sanders employed  Midwest finesse tactics when he wielded it for black bass.)

It is a five-inch bait.

Its back is flat from the tip of its head to the tip of its tail. The flat back is endowed with a shallow 1 3/4-inch-long hook slot. The hook slot is situated 1 1/4 inches from the tip of its head and three inches from the tip of its tail.

Its belly possesses a convex shape, and 3 1/2 inches of its belly is adorned with 24 ribs. The ribs are prominent. The circumference of the middle two inches of its belly and back is larger than the first inch and last two inches.

It is the same length as Z-Man's Finesse WormZ, which is one of the dominate baits in most Midwest finesse anglers' repertoire. We normally trim three-quarters of an inch or more off the head of a Finesse WormZ before we affix it to a lightweight mushroom-style jig, and most Midwest finesse anglers will do that to the Trout Trick.

At the top of this photograph is a Z-Man's Black Neon Finesse WormZ , and at the bottom is a Z-Man's Mood Ring TroutTrick. Neither one has been shortened.

We have been searching for a soft-plastic bait like the TroutTrick since April 1, 2006, which was when we spent the day watching Shin Fukae of Osaka, Japan, and Palestine, Texas, employ a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' green-pumpkin Shad Shaped Worm that was affixed Texas-style to a red 3/32-ounce jig at Beaver Lake, Arkansas. In our eyes, it was an impressive exhibition. Then on April 5, 6, 7, and 8, Fukae used that Shad Shape Worm rig to garner the first-place trophy and win $200,000 at the 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour's Wal-Mart Open at Beaver Lake.


On top of this photograph is a shortened Z-Man's Mood Ring TroutTrick affixed to a 1/20-ounce  Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShroomZ jig. On the bottom is a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' green-pumpkin Shad Shape Worm affixed to a 1/20-0unce Z-Man's green-pumpkin ShroomZ jig.

One of the problems Midwest finesse anglers have with Yamamoto's Shad Shape Worm is that it is too fragile, which is a significant problem for Midwest Finesse anglers who are known to catch from nine to 25 largemouth bass an hour Another problem is that it is impregnated with too much salt, which adversely affects its buoyancy and durability.

Now, thanks to Bob Sanders and Z-Man, we think we have found the soft-plastic bait we have been searching for. And in a Jan. 5 email, Daniel Nussbaum addressed the durability factor by exclaiming that a friend of his caught 200 seatrout and redfish on the same TroutTrick.

The TroutTrick is available in the following colors: Bad Shad, Fried Chicken, Green Latern, Mood Ring, Opening Night, Pearl Blue Glimmer, Plum/Chartreuse Tail, Pumpkin/Chartreuse Tail, Ralph's Shad, Redbone, Rootbeer/Chartreuse Tail, Sexy Mullet, Shrimp Po' Boy, and Strawberry/White Tail.

It is not impregnated with salt, and it is extremely buoyant, which is an attribute that Midwest finesse anglers relish.

The price for a package of six TroutTricks ranges from $4.99 to $5.99.


(1) Daniel Nussbaum sent us an email on Dec. 24, 2015, noting that several black bass anglers have been catching their quarries by employing the TroutTrick in the Bad Shad, Mood Ring, and Ralph's Shad hues on drop-shot rigs, which is a tactic that very few Midwest finesse anglers employ.

(2) Nussbaum is aware that Midwest finesse anglers are inveterate customizers, and in his Dec. 24, 2016, email he wondered if we would shorten and radically customize the TroutTrick before we affix them to a mushroom-shaped jig. We responded by saying that most Midwest finesse anglers will shorten it, and some of them will even radically customize it, creating either a 2 1/2-inch stickbait with its head or crafting several tentacles and making a 2 1/2-inch solid-body tube out of its head. Its tail section will be a 2 1/2-inch TroutTrick.

Here is a TroutTrick that is cut in half, making a 2 1/2-inch stickbait and a 2 1/2-inch TroutTrick. These sections are affixed to the jig so that the convexed sides are their backs and the flat sides are their bellies.

(3) Besides shortening and customizing it, some Midwest finesse anglers will rig it on a mushroom-style jig so that its flat side will be its belly and its convexed side will be its back. We think this rigging will allow it to glide more effectively when a Midwest finesse angler employs the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

This is the way Midwest finesse anglers will occasionally rig the TroutTrick. Its flat side becomes  its belly and its convexed side becomes its back. This rigging should accentuate the gliding element when it is retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

(4) To the chagrin of scores of Midwest finesse anglers, their three most effective colors -- green-pumpkin, Junebug, and PB&J -- are not available. Nussbaum said the reason for that is Z-Man didn't think that the TroutTrick would catch the fancy of the black bass anglers. But he wrote: "If the demand is there, we could possibly make some bass colors." He didn't say how Z-Man could determine if there is a demand for them.

(5) Travis Myers of  Paw Paw, West Virginia, is a regular contributor to the Finesse News Network and our monthly guides to Midwest Finesse, and since the spring of 2015, he has used the TroutTrick to catch an impressive array of smallmouth bass. And before he affixes a Trout Trick to a 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jig, Myer radically shortens it.

 Please see the comments posted below.

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