Finesse fishing godfather narrates rich history of the Ned Rig
Not a non-sense story tale. Not a fairy tale. This is the story of something you need to know as a fisherman that wants to catch more fish every day. After learning more about this, I went to Cabela’s in Cheektowaga, NY, and bought one pack of every Z-Man ElaZtech bait they had in stock. I also bought every size of Ned jig head that they had for good reason. Hook up the Z-Man tail and they never come off. They last forever. They are unbreakable in my experience. Lastly, they catch fish like nothing else I have ever used before. Not a tale, a fact, and I’m a simple fisherman.
The fishing world is awash with unsung heroes. From Ladson, South Carolina, last week, we learned so much more.
If you’re a fan of finesse fishing—or just an angling history buff—you owe it to yourself to learn about folks like Chuck Woods, Ned Kehde and Drew Reese.
Reese, who finished 7th at the very first Bassmaster Classic, worked for Bass Buster Lures, the company that developed classic finesse baits such as the Beetle and Beetle Spin. Years later, a fortuitous meeting of minds spawned a modern fishing revolution known today as the Ned Rig.
A Z-Man Fishing TV exclusive, Project Z: ProFileZ takes you on the water with the folks who count on Z-Man Fishing Products daily as tournament anglers, guides, and industry professionals. Take a trip with us to our ProZ’ home waters to learn their stories and how they’ve ended up where they are today—as well as why they rely on Z-Man baits day-in and day-out.
In this episode, Drew Reese recounts the fascinating history behind the baits and the ElaZtech material that drive the Midwest finesse technique. “ElaZtech gives lures the angle that all lure companies have been trying to find since the early 1900s. To get a bait that didn’t lay flat on the bottom, but to rise up and to move like something truly alive.”
About Z-Man Fishing Products: A dynamic Charleston, South Carolina based company, Z-Man Fishing Products has melded leading edge fishing tackle with technology for nearly three decades. Z-Man has long been among the industry’s largest suppliers of silicone skirt material used in jigs, spinnerbaits and other lures. Creator of the Original ChatterBait®, Z-Man is also the renowned innovators of 10X Tough ElaZtech softbaits, fast becoming the most coveted baits in fresh- and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest-growing lure brands worldwide.
About ElaZtech®: Z-Man’s proprietary ElaZtech material is remarkably soft, pliable, and 10X tougher than traditional soft plastics. ElaZtech resists nicks, cuts, and tears better than other softbaits and boasts one of the highest fish-per-bait ratings in the industry, resulting in anglers not having to waste time searching for a new bait when the fish are biting. This unique material is naturally buoyant, creating a more visible, lifelike, and attractive target to gamefish. Unlike most other soft plastic baits, ElaZtech contains no PVC, plastisol or phthalates, and is non-toxic.
And then there were four. The first round of the Bassmaster Classic Bracket tournament on the upper Niagara River is over and half the field is driving back home.
The two Elite Series anglers from Arizona are staying though, as Brett Hite dominated and Dean Rojas performed some last-minute heroics during the first round, stamping their tickets to the semifinals.
Michigan’s Kevin VanDam and Koby Kreiger of Florida round out the semifinalists heading into Thursday’s head-to-head clashes in hopes of winning the lion’s share of the $50,000 purse and a berth into the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.
The unusual format of this derby has generated a lot of excitement from the anglers and fans watching on Bassmaster.com and WatchESPN, as every second of fishing has been streamed live.
The anglers are also getting updates from BASSTrakk to know how much weight their rival has caught, and officials on each boat immediately weighing and releasing the fish once the information is logged.
“I love this format,” said Rojas, who fished against Alabamian Jordan Lee. “We fished for 5 1/2 hours, and I was losing for all but two minutes of the match. When I caught that last fish, fans got to watch in real time the excitement and incredible circumstance that gave me the win.”
Rojas was 5 pounds behind Lee when he hooked a 3-pounder. He had five minutes left when he hooked another big one. It came off. His next cast produced another bite and he swung another 3-pounder into the boat with two minutes left.
“I’m a slow starter, but I finish strong,” Rojas said. Rojas ended with a two-day total weight of 13-9, and Lee with 12-9.
Hite wasn’t sweating a bit. With the second-heaviest limit on Tuesday, he had a 2-pound cushion over Texan Keith Combs, his first round opponent.
“I knew some big ones lived in my spot, and when they bit early, I felt like I was in good shape,” Hite said.
After boating the biggest limit of the event so far (11-2) in the first two hours of competition, Hite was more than 7 pounds ahead of Combs, who ended the day with just 6-12.
“I felt really good with my weight, so I went exploring for the last hour. I found some stuff that should help me tomorrow,” Hite said.
Speaking of help, Kreiger beat Jacob Powroznik with the help of Jacob Powroznik.
The two anglers are roommates on the Elite Series, and Powroznik vowed to help Kreiger make it to the Classic. Winning this tournament is the Florida pro’s only chance to get there.
Kreiger fished for more than 2 1/2 hours without a bite while Powroznik watched, and even coached, from his boat nearby. Kreiger finally got a bite, and the fish jumped off. With 27 minutes left in competition, Kreiger set the hook and boated a 1-7, enough to finally eclipse Powroznik’s Day 1 total.
“Thank the Lord and thank Jacob Powroznik!” Kreiger said. Powroznik ended the first round with 9-15, and Kreiger moves to the next round with a two-day total of 10-4.
VanDam had nearly a 9-pound lead over Florida pro Drew Benton heading into Wednesday’s elimination match and could have slept through the second session and still won. However, that’s not KVD. He went out and caught 10-4 for a two-day total of 20-8. Benton finished with a final total of 5-10.
“I was watching BASSTrakk and knew Drew was having a tough time, so after I boated one pretty good one, I went practicing,” VanDam said. “Based on what I found, I feel really good about my future in the derby.”
Thursday’s semifinal round on July 21 will pit Rojas vs. Hite and VanDam vs. Kreiger. The weights will go back to zero, and all anglers will fish from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. ET.
The winner of those two matches will advance to Friday’s championship round. With weights starting from zero again, the anglers will fish head to head from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for the title.
Bassmaster LIVE will broadcast coverage of the entire tournament Thursday and Friday, from first cast until the fishing stops, with a camera in every boat.
The payout for the bracket event will be distributed as follows: $10,000 and a Classic berth for first place, $8,000 for second place, $6,000 for third and fourth place (eliminated from semifinals) and $5,000 each for fifth through eighth place (eliminated from quarterfinals).
There was no entry fee for the tournament. The local host for this event is I Love New York. This report is courtesy of www.bassmaster.com
2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Toyota, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Berkley, GoPro, Huk, Humminbird, Mercury
2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Phoenix Boats, Power-Pole, Rapala, Shell Rotella, Shimano, Academy Sports + Outdoors, A.R.E. Truck Caps, Carhartt, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.
NOTE: The second group of 4 anglers will be heading back to Anchor Marine on Grand Island, New York. Fans are more than welcome to greet them once they get their rigs out of the launch ramp, so Anchor Marine asks that you give anglers a little space at that time. Since this is a new format, there is not your traditional weigh in at the end of the day. (Anchor Marine, 1501 Ferry Rd, Grand Island, NY 14072, 716-773-7063)
Gear Tips, Rigging Options, New Tackle, New Tactics
The 2016 Bassmaster Classic offered anything but stable weather on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees. When you’re fishing for big bucks and bragging rights, and the angler-field includes proven top-gun anglers such as Kevin Van Dam, Edwin Evers, Mike Iaconelli and a host of other big names, you know to have your gear ready and to be prepared for anything.
When nasty and changing conditions arise, successful anglers know that it helps to keep an open mind and an open tackle box. A professional Rapala field representative professional shared with me, “With the weather conditions, that’s a lesson all of our pro staff was reminded of in this one.”
“On the first day of competition,” Rapala Pro Ott DeFoe shares, “I caught five keepers on five different baits.” When a five-time Bassmaster Classic contender does that, the conditions might be asking for a change on every cast. The five baits that scored for DeFoe were a Terminator(R) Spinnerbait, a #5 and #6 Rapala Shad Rap(R), a Rapala DT(R)-6 and a Terminator(R) Pro Series Jig. How does he fish these baits? There are secrets.
One big item that is key is attaching to the lure. Not many anglers talk about it, but weekend fishermen wonder, do you tie directly on the lure or use a swivel for more wobble? DeFoe does not use snaps on his cranks, he ties direct.
With the Shad Rap, DeFoe uses a 6’9″ medium-weight spinning rod, size 30 spinning reel and 8lb test.
With the DT-6, he switches to a medium-heavy crankbait rod, 7’3”, with a 6.4:1 baitcaster reel and 10lb fluorocarbon line.
One of his other favorite baits is the ½ ounce Terminator Pro Jig, where he uses a medium heavy 7’6” casting rod and a high-speed bait caster (7.9:1) set up with 17lb fluorocarbon test.
Because Grand Lake’s lower end traditionally features lots of clear water, Defoe and another Rapala Pro, Brandon Palaniuk, came to fish with high confidence using one of Rapala’s brand new lures, the Shadow Rap(R) Shad. The new hardbait lure was unveiled for the public right before the Classic, though the Rapala pros had been field-testing and whacking bass on the undulating jerkbait that the lure provides. The innovative new lure features an action that bass have never seen, it works best when the water is clear enough for bass to actually see the staggering wobble action of the lure.
Similar to the original Shadow Rap, released at last year’s Classic, the Shadow Rap Shad is taller in profile than its predecessor, but not as long. Rather than slowly sinking on the pause, like the original Shadow Rap, a Shadow Rap Shad slowly rises when stopped, slightly wobbling and perfectly mimicking an injured shad. It’s deadly.
With the action it’s got, man, I just totally expected this thing to be a big hit there at Grand Lake this year,” DeFoe said in a video recorded before Grand Lake went off limits for pre-fishing. That was before the record rainfall deposited mud and high water in the highly respected waterway during the Christmas holidays.
“I figured there would be some off-colored water this week, but I was not expecting as much cold, off-color water as we had,” DeFoe said. Areas with clear water were few and far between, conditions were better suited for vibration-emitting lures like Terminator spinnerbaits and Rapala crankbaits. Once Grand Lake returns to normal form, DeFoe said, local anglers will be whacking bass on Shadow Rap Shads.
“During the Classic, I had to adjust as I went along,” DeFoe said. That meant scrapping his initial game plan and keeping both his tackle box and his mind open. In a tournament that saw numerous top pros fail to catch a five-bass limit, a last-minute color change resulted in one of DeFoe’s hard-to-come-by keepers.
“I had been fishing primarily craw-colored DT-6s when the water temperature was in the 40s, but something just told me on that second day to tie on a Disco Shad color instead, and then caught my first two keepers in 15 minutes.” DeFoe took home $10,000 for his 25th place finish, in the 55 member field of world class anglers.
For six-time Classic contender Brandon Palaniuk, scrapping game plans developed in practice was also necessary, as well as focusing on the current conditions as they changed rapidly. From practice to the last day of the tournament, water temp’s in many places warmed from 43 to 55 degrees. Quite a swing!
“This week was just all about changing for me,” said Palaniuk, who turned in yet another top-12 finish in the world’s most important fishing tournament. “I changed every day.”
Although known as a crankbait fanatic, Palaniuk fished the conditions and enjoyed his best success with a chartreuse and white half-ounce Terminator Super Stainless Spinnerbait.
“That was my big key this week,” he says. Palaniuk throws the Terminator with a medium-heavy 7’3” bait casting rod, 7.1:1 ratio reel and 15 lb fluorocarbon. Palaniuk took home $14,250 for his 13th place finish.
Whether you’re fishing for bragging rights or in the biggest bass tournament in the world, keep an open mind and an open tackle box to adapt to changing conditions in order to catch more fish.
Most pro anglers share the view that a wide assortment of lures will keep you in the hunt for the top prize, or at least the big fish prize, and you never know just how long it will take to find that magic key to the door of a new record weigh-in. Veteran pro’s will share, “It could happen in 10 minutes of fishing. That fast!”