|Bait Mods on Ice|
To create his favorite hardwater crappie concoction, Bruce trims the tail off a Smelt or Meat Dog pattern Z-Man Finesse ShadZ. The remaining razor-thin 1-1/2- to 2-inch tail section is threaded onto a compact mushroom jighead or tungsten VMC Tubby Jig. He applies one drop of superglue to the hook-shank or jig neck before securing the bait almost permanently in place.
“You can do the same thing with baits like the Hula StickZ, TRD TicklerZ or even the TRD TubeZ,” Bruce explains. “Or slice off one leg off a TRD HogZ, to make a more flattened, leech style bait. All these little tail sections are super-thin, soft and kick like crazy when you jig.”
Bruce suggests a nice, sharp pair of mini scissors for easily cutting through the resilient ElaZtech material. “All you want to do is snip a single tentacle off some of these baits, leaving a thicker chunk of material for a head, which makes it easier to secure to a jighead. Give it a nice big stretch to shed any salt, add bait buoyancy and soften up the material, which frees it up for even more lively movement.
“I like to drop the bait down, so it hovers just a foot above the crappies, and let them chase as you give it little tail-twitches with your rodtip. When a fish starts reacting, you’ll want to slowly elevate the bait, making the fish hunt it down. Watching the whole drama on a sonar or LiveScope screen really adds to the excitement. And other than a wayward pike, you never have to worry about the bait getting its tail chewed off.”