Although I love flipping and pitching a heavy jig into thick cover as much as anyone, there are times when finesse tactics simply outperform power fishing. Both seasonal transitions and weather fronts make me much more apt to reach for a spinning rod, light line and my favorite finesse technique: the Ned rig.
As this technique has exploded onto the scene in recent years, a lot of manufacturers are putting their own spins on small stick baits. I've tried just about every one of them and to be honest, most of them are all the same. How creative can you really get with a 3-inch worm?
I've been tinkering with one stick worm in particular, however, that seems to stand out from the crowd. The X Zone Pro Series Ned Zone has consistently impressed me in several different ways. I'll quickly explain what I like best about this special soft plastic.
The tail has some crazy action
You'll notice that the X Zone Pro Series Ned Zone features a unique bulbous tail. While its shape certainly differentiates it from most other Ned rig worms, the action it produces is the biggest difference maker in my opinion.
With even the slightest bit of water movement, this tail quivers and stands up off the bottom. You really don't even need to impart any additional action into this worm. I've studied it closely in shallow water and it dances and quivers without me even moving my rod tip.
I do, however, like to "slack pop" this bait. As it sits on the bottom, I'll barely pop the slack in my line. I don't move the bait towards me whatsoever. I'll just barely make that line jump and this tail absolutely comes to life.
It flat-out catches 'em
A bait can be the prettiest thing in the world, but if it doesn't catch fish, it doesn't really matter how good it looks. Not only does the X Zone Pro Series Ned Zone look good, but it catches a ton of fish.
I've had a lot of luck skipping this bait underneath docks and dragging it around isolated stumps on points. The weather for the last few months has been insane, so if I'm having trouble getting bit, I'll toss the X Zone Pro Series Ned Zone out there and put a few fish in the boat in short order.
As we discussed, its action is incredible, but it remains subtle enough to coax lethargic bass in tough conditions. A lot of the Ned rig bites I've had in the past are very subtle, but there's no doubt when a bass grabs ahold of this bait. It almost feels like a jig bite, which tells me there's something special about it. It's very rare to get such aggressive bites on a Ned rig.
Because of all the rain we've had lately, our water is pretty nasty. You wouldn't think that a finesse technique would be very productive when the water has almost zero visibility, but that hasn't been the case with the X Zone Pro Series Ned Zone. They're still chewing this thing to pieces and in my opinion, I think it has a lot to do with the prominent ribbed body.
The ribbed body displaces more water, which the bass are able to detect with their lateral lines. So even if they don't get a great look at it, they can "feel" it nearby and find it with ease.
This bait has everything I look for when I'm buying a Ned rig bait. Not only does it have a beautiful action underwater, but it's also a workhorse. It's durable and very rarely slides down the shank of the hook, making it a very efficient option as well. Priced at just $3.99 per pack, you'd be hard pressed to find a better value.