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My Spotted Bass Solution

This season, I tried a new bait, and caught a fish on my first cast. How could I argue with that?

Throughout the year, I used it more and more, and found it to be unbeatable on guide trips. It practically replaced a wacky worm for me in tournaments, and turned out to be one of the best sight fishing baits I've ever used, especially for cruising bass. Oh, and did I mention, I almost never lose a fish hooked on my new favorite?

Yep, it's all true.

The lure I'm referring to is the Z-Man TRD TicklerZ, rigged on a Ned LockZ HD Jighead. First, it should be noted that I originally tried this lure as a way to solve a problem. Here on Lake Lanier, where I guide, spotted bass are the primary specie. And, while spots are a blast to catch, they can be equally frustrating for their habit of picking up the tail of a soft bait, and carrying it off. Time after time, myself and clients would miss piles of fish each day, especially around the spawning season.

In an attempt to scale down my lure size, and give those fish a bait they would eat in one gulp, I began using the TRD TicklerZ last spring. Boy, am I glad I did.  At first glance, the TRD TicklerZ looks like a cross between a worm and a micro-tube. Really, it's the best of both worlds. It's a squat, thick little bait, so the TRD TicklerZ casts really well, despite it's small profile. And, because it's relatively short, I can rig the TRD TicklerZ perfectly each time on the jighead; it stays real straight, and snugs up against the collar of the jig.

The bait is made of ElaZtech - a winning scenario when it comes to durability - allowing the tail to stand up when the lure touches down. That tail of the TRD TicklerZ is really the key; and it's a lot more advanced than what it looks.

The TRD TicklerZ tail features small tentacles cut at a 45-degree angle. That's very important, because those tentacles can't stick together by design, so they always flare out and quiver when the lure hits bottom. Often, when I cast to a visible fish, I don't have to move the rod at all - natural water flow is enough to shake the tail and trigger a strike.That's where the TRD TicklerZ shines for me: visible, cruising fish. I just lead them a little with my cast, the lure comes in quiet because of its small size, and the fish darts in and eats it, without hesitation.

In the case of a fish locked down on a bed, the quivering tail does the trick, as the TRD TicklerZ perfectly mimics a small bluegill nosing around the bed, getting too close for comfort. Spawning bass kill it.

I guess that sums it up: to catch fish on the TRD TicklerZ, an angler doesn't have to do much at all, really. I've seen that so many times on my guide trips. I'll rig up a client, regardless of skill level, with a TicklerZ on a Ned Rig and, at least a couple times each day, that client will catch a fish without even trying. I'll just hear "Oh, I got one" from the back of the boat.

I think the reason behind that is the way the TicklerZ falls, and swims, on the Ned LockZ jighead. It kind of roams around a bit, gliding near the bottom. The bait's extremely subtle, but very lifelike. Most times, I choose a 1/6 ounce head, but occasionally adjust up and down for wind and depth.

Spotted bass are tough fighters, and notorious for hard surges near the boat. And, here on Lanier, we have big spots; I've caught several over four pounds on the TRD TicklerZ. For that reason, I only use the Ned LockZ HD jighead when targeting these bruisers. The HD stands for "heavy duty" hook; it's a Mustad Ultra-Point that's 2X strong, and it's sharp as a needle.

The TRD TicklerZ comes in a bunch of colors, but I've got my favorites. Hot Snakes is a natural green with a flash of chartreuse, and it's great when the water has a little stain. The Deal is my color choice to mimic small bluegills, and Canada Craw is always a winner.

Want a new bait to catch fish anywhere? Try the TRD TicklerZ on a Ned LockZ HD jighead. Who knows - you may catch one on your first cast.

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