Finesse bass fishing seems to become more popular every year. I got introduced to bass fishing at the time when power fishing was still the main deal, some 30-plus years ago; shallow-water specialists like Denny Brauer and Tommy Biffle ruled the waters. Plain old 2D sonar was ground breaking technology at the time and the most popular finesse technique was a Carolina rig. I can still remember a time when the terms “shaky head” and “drop shot” might as well have been German—I wouldn’t have known the difference.
But things change. Advancements in technology accompanied by an ever-increasing number of anglers hitting the water has upped the fishing pressure to an all-time high. And this has put a massive focus on the finesse fishing game. People want to catch fish when they go fishing and it takes a finesse approach to do that quite often now. Shaky heads and drop shots weren’t the first finesse tactics but they represent a pivotal shift in the focus of fishermen as a whole that has lead lure manufactures down the road to technique specific gear for Damiki rigs, wacky rigs, Ned rigs, Neko rigs and more.
Today, we’re going to be reviewing one such product that doesn’t exactly fall into any particular sub-category of finesse fishing, but certainly is a finesse presentation. It’s a pretty cool little piece of terminal tackle that creates a nice niche for itself. So without further delay, let me introduce you to the Z-Man Finesse BulletZ Weedless Jighead.
Not a Ned rig, but close
The first thing I thought when I saw this little nugget was… Ned rig. While I’d say that is the thing it’s most similar to, there are several key differences upon close inspection. For starters, though both are small jigheads, the Finesse BulletZ is built around a No. 1 EWG-style VMC hook versus the common round-bend hook used in Ned rigs. The hook is also intended to be left exposed with all Ned rigs, even the weedless ones with a weed guard. But with the Finesse BulletZ jig head, you want to rig the soft plastic weedless by running the hook point through the bait and then back into the soft plastic similar to how you would a Texas rig.
The shape of the head is also quite different. A Ned rig typically has some flat element to the shape of its head, intended to help the bait stand up on the bottom. This jighead has a bullet-shaped head with the line tie at the tip, so the bait will come through cover better. There’s also a molded weight along the shaft of the hook that doubles as a bait keeper. We’re going to get into the specifics of why all these features were incorporated into this jighead in a bit, but first we’re simply trying to help you see this isn’t just another Ned rig. Instead, the design was very intentional to create a product that could present a Ned-size finesse package to a whole new group of fish.
Head design, belly weight and weedless characteristic
Everything about this product was intentionally designed to help it come through cover, I’d say particularly through vegetation and limbs. This bait is built to be dragged and wormed through cover while maintaining a horizontal orientation with the hook pointed up. The belly weight of the hook naturally hangs down in the water as the bait is pulled or reeled forward. The low-profile eye and the bullet-shaped head sheds grass and slips off wood as the bait is fished along as well. And then the hook point being rigged weedless ensures that this bait isn’t going to hang up very often.
For decades now, we’ve had the Texas rig and shaky head to fish through cover this way. But the majority of the soft plastics used with both of these presentations are twice or triple the size of what you can use with the Finesse BulletZ. Even weedless Ned rigs have a tendency to hang up in fairly thick cover and with their exposed hooks and added weed guards, they don’t have as clean of a look as the Finesse BulletZ. The natural orientation of a Ned rig also puts its head down and hook up, making it less efficient in the type of cover where the Finesse BulletZ shines the brightest. So this little jighead really opens up a whole new arena to finesse fishing fans.
Careful with the rigging
I did run into a couple small issues with this rig, but they’re easy to avoid. For starters, when selecting your soft plastic, be sure you don’t pick one with too thick of a body. There’s only so much room for your soft plastic to escape to on the hookset. The No. 1 size hook is pretty small in the grand scheme of things and the molded weight on the shaft further decreases the area for a soft plastic to go when you set into a fish. The Missile Baits Ned Bomb I have rigged up on the Finesse BulletZ here is about as thick of a bait as I’d feel comfortable fishing with on this setup. But that still gives you plenty of baits to choose from.
Also, when rigging your soft plastic, you’ll want to be sure to lubricate the belly weight before sliding your bait over it. With finesse soft plastics like this, you often don’t have much material to work with and the process of getting the bait up and over the belly weight may tear some baits if you don’t first make it a little slippery. But similar to when cinching down a knot, adding a little saliva to the hook does the trick. It’s likely too that this jighead was designed with Z-Man’s Elaztech material in mind and you wouldn’t even have this issue with baits like their Finesse TRD as the material they’re made of is super stretchy and would slide right over. But rest assured, almost all soft plastics will also work with a little lubrication.
Z-Man has, somehow, come up with a little something different in there Finesse BulletZ Weedless Jighead. In an already crowded and ever-expanding market, this little guy offers a new way to rig finesse soft plastics for fishing around thick cover. With the point of the hook tucked under the skin of your soft plastic, the belly weight down and the pointed bullet style lead head, you’ll find it hard to hang this jighead up. Not impossible mind you, but a challenge compared to how easy a Ned rig would hang up in similar situations.
This jighead is available in black or green pumpkin with 4 sizes ranging from 1/15- to 1/5-ounce. As long as you don’t overpower the Finesse BulletZ Jighead with too big of a soft plastic or rush the rigging and tear the head of your bait, I think you’ll find this is a pretty sweet little edition to your tackle box. But you don’t have to take my word for it, you can pick up a 3 pack for $4.99 and see for yourself.
The Z-Man Finesse BulletZ Weedless Jighead is available at the following retailers: