July in the northeast, especially New England can be feast or famine. Factor in abnormal weather changes running temperature gauges to peaks and valleys anglers often get exhausted changing baits in attempts to trigger a bite. The reason is simple…most of the bass population are in a Post Spawn transition, and too exhausted from their annual spawning ritual.
Post spawn can become roadblocks for many anglers. In fact the most common statement on the water heard…‘The bite is Slow!” However, savvy anglers such as Z-Man’s Bassmaster Elite Pro David Walker have discovered detours leading to some outstanding days on the water.
Under tough conditions like this Walker turns to Z-Man’s 2.5” Slim SwimZ. Excellent Crappie baits the Slim SwimZ mimics smaller forage making it the perfect bait of choice during post spawn periods and postfrontal conditions under bluebird skies. A small perfectly balanced paddle tail sends out minute vibrations as the slender baitfish profile entices an easy meal.
Z-Man Pro David Walker details his techniques and tactics in the following Slim SwimZ video:
Several key factors standout within David Walker’s video; Besides the small baitfish profile of the Slim SwimZ, its natural baitfish swimming action and fish catching ability for enticing multi-species is key. Walker mentions the importance of balance tackle. Aka … spinning rod and light-line!
Over-powering the 2.5” Slim SwimZ or any Z-Man Crappie size bait with a large heavy jighead, heavy line and a stiff spinning rod totally defeats their finesse design features. Spinning tackle allows for precise accurate on target casting. Line weight in the 4-6-8 lb. range reeled unto wide spinning reel spools enhances longer casts, less line twist and more line pick-up per revolution. I have found it imperative to spool quality line on my reels. Seaguar 4-6 lb Tatsu Fluorocarbon or the New 5.2 or 6.2 lb. Seaguar Finesse Fluorocarbon lines are my choice. (www.Seaguar.com)
When it comes to spinning rods St. Croix’s 6’8” Med. Lt. and Med. Legend Tournament Bass Rod Series is my first choice. Note: When targeting crappie and pan fish I highly recommend St. Croix 6’9” Ultra-Light Pan Fish Series rod. Designed for specific ultra light techniques utilizing 2-6 lb. test line. (www.stcroixrods.com)
Z-Man Pro Staffer David Walker favors rigging his Slim SwimZ unto Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ (Open Hook or Weedless design) with its 90-degree angled line tie and ElaZtech® keeper. All Z-Man jigheads are designed to secure Z-Man’s ElaZtech plastic baits.
Unlike most plastic baits, ElaZtech will not tear off when fish pull on the tail sections, especially the small Crappie-size baits eliminate constantly changing baits due to missing tail sections! Thus, enters the importance of an ElaZtech friendly bait keeper, to avoid the bait from sliding on the hook shaft!
ElaZtech is extremely soft, pliable, nick, cut and tear resistant. Factor in stretching and high natural buoyant features and you can see why ordinary bait keepers do not cut it for ElaZtech plastic! Keepers must be able to pierce or cut through ElaZtech to secure Z-Man baits. However, a drop of super glue on the hook shaft near the jig head on products such as Road Runner under-spin heads, Pro Crappie jigheads etc. will permanently adhere your Z-Man ElaZtech plastic.
As bass slowly recover from their spawning activities the shallows warm from the July sun. Newly hatched multi-specie fry begin to populate healthy green vegetation, attracting a wide variety of predators. This is the time to ‘Match the Hatch’ and as David Walker suggested catch a bunch of fish!
Z-Man’s 2” GrubZ rigged on small Crappie jigheads like the Finesse ShroomZ with sharp ultra-light hooks, make for the perfect combination. With it’s extremely thin curly tail the 2” GrubZ starts gyrating the second it hits the water. Emitting a subtle baitfish swimming vibration slightly different than the Slim SwimZ. Working the Z-Man Slim SwimZ and GrubZ with alternating horizontal presentations is an excellent way to entice bites.
Catching multiple fish species is indeed entertaining, but more so it is an educational learning curve that will propel average anglers into outstanding anglers! There is a major advantage to utilizing ultra-light tackle that most bass anglers overlook. No doubt making long cast with 4-6 lb. line tied to an ultra-light thin wire hook scares many a bass angler …………. “What if I hook into the bass of a lifetime? I’ll surely lose, and have nightmares for the rest of life!”
A major advantage in this technique is the fact several species will be eating your bait. This is when paying attention to how each species attacks or eats your bait will clue you in to what you catch before you actually see the fish! And, this includes bass.
Balanced tackle, presetting a smooth drag on your spinning reel based on both line and hook sizes will help tremendously! However, you must develop confidence in your equipment coupled with patience to land larger fish. As for that ultra-light wire hook you are so afraid of breaking or not getting a good hook-set? Let me just say this, drop-shot anglers use the same type small hooks and land huge smallmouth bass. Why? Because these tiny ultra-sharp hooks penetrate the soft tissue and do not rip out!
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