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Honey I Shrunk the Creature Bait!

Z-Man has become the undisputed authority on finesse fishing for one big—actually, little— reason," says professional bass man, Mark Daniels, Jr.

"This is a company of perceptive anglers who recognized and dialed into the fact bass of all sizes—including great big ones—rely on small forage throughout their entire lifecycle," adds Daniels. "Runt crayfish, young-of-the year baitfish and insect larvae all get eaten by bass, every day. It's one reason anglers often go out and boat over a hundred bass a day on baits like the new TRD BugZ."

Daniels, who won the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Oahe, South Dakota by casting TRD-Series softbaits, speaks energetically about Z-Man's newest "creature," the TRD BugZ. "This shape and profile are absolutely natural," he says. "Like other TRD baits, the BugZ is subtle and non-threatening, yet has a bunch of little goodies built into its 2-3/4-inch body."

Equally allured by ElaZtech baits, smallmouth bass fanatic and fellow Major League Fishing Tour angler, Luke Clausen was the first to suggest the idea of a downsized creature bait. "Big smallmouths love to eat small stuff—invertebrates like little one- and two-inch crayfish," Clausen asserts. "Z-Man's new TRD BugZ leans on an incredibly productive bass bait profile and downsizes it to Ned Rig proportions. It looks like a craw, acts like a craw, but with a slowed down drop-speed and awesome back-and-forth spiral on the drop."

Smartly crafted with a wealth of fish-catching attributes, the TRD BugZ exhibits a slightly pear-shaped, flattened silhouette, highlighted with deep-cut ribs across its torso. Riddled with crustacean-like bumps, a primary flapper tail extends an inch from the torso, and can be split into two claw-like sections, or left intact. On each side of the tail is a secondary, leaf-shaped "flipper," each one molded to lie perpendicular to the torso and tail, producing offsetting action and faint pulsing vibrations.

With appendages waving enticingly throughout the retrieve, the bait's highly buoyant ElaZtech composition further accentuates its slow-gliding action. At rest on the bottom, the TRD BugZ tilts up and sits in that familiar defensive posture that makes bass bite it.

Further amplifying its bite-and-hold appeal to bass, the TRD BugZ' ribbed body, super-soft texture and 15-percent salt impregnation compel fish to eat and retain it longer than comparable softbaits. Ironically, the bait's soft ElaZtech structure also means it's outlandishly durable, capable of dozens of fish catches per bait.

"This is the dream-bait I've wanted for casting to clear water smallmouths for a long time," adds Clausen. "I feel like it's almost equally attractive to smallmouths as a hair jig. The bait's that good. And after catching a bunch of largemouths on it in North Carolina this year, I'm starting to discover the BugZ works in dirty water, too."

TRD BugZ with Pro ShroomZ™ jighead

TRD BugZ with Finesse BulletZ™ Weedless jighead

TRD BugZ with NedlockZ™ HD jighead

While the TRD BugZ works well as a finesse jig trailer, Clausen and Daniels both prefer to put the bait on a NedlockZ™ HD or Pro ShroomZ jighead. For sliding through grass and brush, the TRD BugZ is a perfect fit for the Finesse BulletZ™ weedless jighead.

"I fish it a little more aggressively than other TRD style baits," says Clausen. "Hop it off bottom; keep it up where fish can see it. A 90-degree head like the Pro ShroomZ™ really helps it spiral in big circles and create more action on the fall."

"Heck, I like to nose-hook the BugZ and dropshot it, too" adds Daniels. "The bait's got a sweet little profile, and mad action that screams bass food! — plain and simple."

Ned Kehde, godfather of Midwest Finesse, adds: "For over a decade, old-school Midwest finesse anglers have been in search of their ideal miniature creature-style bait that possesses an appendage they call a beaver-style tail. In our eyes, Z-Man's TRD BugZ looks to be an ideal one."

Available in July, the new Z-Man TRD BugZ expands your arsenal of finesse-sized Ned Rig baits. TRD BugZ 6-packs sit in a state-of-the-art bait tray, available in 16 radical Z-Man colors. For more information visit www.zmanfishing.com or drop by Z-Man booth #5118 at ICAST 2019.

Andrew Cox with a good one caught on a Bama Bug-pattern TRD BugZ, while fishing with his grandfather, Ned Kehde

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