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MDJ: My Favorite ZinkerZ Rigs

When the going gets tough, nothing beats a stickworm. For several years now, these no-frills baits have been a staple in my arsenal, especially during the pre-spawn and spawning periods, when bass hit the bank.

Like any other bass fisherman, I tried a variety of stickworms before settling on a favorite: the Z-Man ZinkerZ. This is what I like to refer to as a "mutli-faceted" lure, because I rig it a variety of ways to best match the conditions.

First, let's discuss the lure itself. A ZinkerZ isn't like any other stickworm in the world. It's made from ElaZtech - so it's incredibly tough and buoyant - but the chemical recipe of the bait is loaded with salt. That heavy salt adds density to the lure and creates a slow, tantalizing fall, allowing the bait to wiggle all the way to the bottom.

I often simply rig the bait on a weedless hook; casting, pitching and skipping it to shallow targets. There's something about that thin, pencil shape in the springtime that bass seem to really like and, with a ZinkerZ, I don't have to worry about the bait ripping or tearing when I put it in heavy cover, or skip it repeatedly under docks. For weightless fishing, I rig the stickbait on wide-gap hook and 20-lb fluorocarbon, and stick to natural, subtle colors.

Another great rigging technique for the ZinkerZ is on a Neko rig. Recently, Z-Man introduced the best Neko rigging system ever: the Neko ShroomZ head. It's got a centering pin build in to ensure the weight is perfect each time, and keeper barbs to guarantee it won't come out. Again, with the ZinkerZ being made of ElaZtech, I can catch dozens of fish with it, even on a wacky, Neko-style hook, and continue to use the same bait over and over. When pre-spawn fish make their first stop on shallow dock posts and laydowns, especially in clear water, a Neko rig cleans up.

Last spring, while competing in Florida, I found another cool little rig, custom built for the ZinkerZ. The TRD SpinZ tail-spinner inserts in the rear of the lure, adding a little extra flash to the bait.

This combo makes a great winding bait - it's like a buzzworm that's so popular in Florida - but it's scaled back a little, and offers the fish something they haven't seen. With my ZinkerZ Texas-rigged, I peg a 3/16 ounce weight in front, and just cover water up shallow, winding and dropping the little tail-spinner around likely looking places where bass may be spawning. Here, I still count on 20-lb fluorocarbon, fished on a 7'2" medium-heavy Favorite Fishing casting rod. Fluoro actually helps me catch more fish over braid, as I slow down a bit on my hooksets, allowing the fish to really get the bait. When it comes to lure colors, especially in Florida, I mix in Black and Blue Laminate, as well as Junebug, to gain maximum flash in the dark, tannic water.

One more pointer on fishing the ZinkerZ that comes from the inside track: I've found that, after prolonged use and repeated fish catches, my worm may start to gain a bit of buoyancy as salt continues to be released. At times, this can make for the most delicate presentations, and actually increase my number of bites. However, if it's a faster fall I'm after, I switch to a new bait.

The possibilities are endless when rigging and fishing a ZinkerZ. Try a few of my off-the-wall methods this spring, and you're sure to add more bass to your totals.

Mark Daniels Jr.

Z-Man Fishing Pro Staff

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