One of my favourite styles of fishing is casting finesse plastics on light gear in shallow water and it always surprises me the mix of species and quality of fish that this technique produces.
There’s an old saying in fishing that big lures catch big fish, while small lures catch all fish.
So, for anglers getting into plastics fishing, downsizing will often see you getting more action from more species more consistently.
My obsession started with the arrival of the Z-Man 2.5” Slim SwimZ – a tiny 10X Tough paddle tail that has landed some of my largest bream and flathead, along with a mixed bag of other species in both the fresh and salt.
The recent addition of the Z-Man Micro Finesse BaitZ range of plastics saw me downsizing even further to 2” and 1.75” plastics, and the results have been awesome.
Take note of the bait on your local flats, concentrated around structure such as jetties and pontoons or holding in the mouths of drains – it’s often tiny and you will see it spraying out of the water as predators attack.
In this article, I want to give you an overview of three of the Micro BaitZ that I have been fishing with and where and how I have been fishing them.
First, when it comes to jig heads to suit these tiny plastics, you are limited to hook sizes that fit them appropriately.
I have been fishing light spin combinations – 7’ 1-3kg paired with 1000 size reels, 6lb braid and running 10lb leader in case of a flathead or tailor.
You could downsize your leader as required if the water’s clear or the bite tough.
My jig head of choice is the size 2 in a TT Fishing HeadlockZ Finesse, which is a fine wire hook for maximum penetration.
However, the size 4 in a TT Fishing HeadlockZ HD is an excellent option if you want a heavier wire hook for extracting fish from structure.
When fishing these micro finesse plastics, I run jig head weights from 1/20oz to 1/8oz to cover extreme shallows and pontoon fishing to deeper flats and drop-offs.
Z-Man 1.75” Shad FryZ
This little baitfish profile has a segmented tail wrist to a paddle tail, which gives it a lot of action and micro vibration when retrieved.
The built-in action allows it to be slow rolled, hopped or shaken on the retrieve and it makes a great presentation for prospecting the flats.
The first time I rigged it, I thought there was no way the fish were even going to see it.
But within a few casts I was hooked to a 45cm giant trevally, followed by a 55cm model along with bream and grunter.
In the sessions since, it has produced bream, grunter, whiting, flathead, tailor, trevally and more.
Z-Man 2” StingerZ
For easy jig head rigging, the 2” StingerZ has the same little bulky body as the Shad FryZ and a unique segmented tail section with a bulbous cross on the end.
The minimal built-in action of this little jerkbait lends itself to a hopping or shaking retrieve as it darts erratically in the water.
This will be a deadly plastic fished vertically around structure and among schooled fish because any movement causes resistance on the end of the tail, allowing you to shake it on the spot.
I used this technique to land trevally, bream and yellowtail pike around pontoons before casting it and twitching it in the mouth of a large drain for flathead and bream.
Again, I wasn’t sure how it would go, before hooking a nice bream a few casts into the session and plenty more bream and flathead after that.
Z-Man 1.75” Tiny TicklerZ
The Tiny TicklerZ is a little more out there in terms of its design, however the solid tube-style body rigs well on a jig head and the four small appendages at the end dance with any movement.
Its versatility comes in the ability to twitch and shake it like a jerkbait, then allow it to fall to the bottom where it can be hopped and shaken like a creature bait fished tight to structure or the bottom.
The first time I fished this plastic, I had one of the hottest bream sessions I’ve had in ages, casting it over a weed flat on the high tide, twitching and shaking it over the weed, then allowing it to drop once it reached the weed edge.
Once on the bottom, I then hopped and twitched it back.
The fish ate the Tiny TicklerZ with gusto and I landed a couple of dozen bream in quick time.
Fish don’t have hands and the only way that they can investigate something interesting is to look at it or eat it, before spitting it out if it’s not food.
The micro size of these plastics means that when fish eat them, they eat them!
The plastic is tiny and the jig head light, so the take is often brutal and the whole plastic is in the mouth of the fish, minimising tail grabs and increasing your hook-up rate.
Colour-wise, I run with the old three colour theory of a light – natural colour for clear water and bright days, a dark silhouette colour for dark days, dirty water and fishing in weed, and a fluoro or ultra-violet reactive colour in case the other two don’t fire.
In the Micro Finesse BaitZ this transfers to a Smelt, Blue Glimmer Sparkle or Pearl as a light natural colour, Bumblebee – black top and chartreuse belly – as a go-to silhouette colour, and then there’s the Space Guppy, Hot Snakes and Firetreuse as something a bit more out there.
I also matched the colours up with TT Fishing HeadlockZ Finesse UV jig heads, with the Black pairing beautifully with the Bumblebee and the Orange pairing with Firetreuse to make a really bright presentation that I’ve nicknamed ‘the beacon’.
Make sure you cover water with a long cast and mix up the retrieve from slow and subtle to more aggressive and erratic, until you find what the fish want on the day.
I like to have three combos rigged – one with each of my three colours, so that I can switch things up, especially if the fish shut down on a particular colour or are following the plastic and not eating it.
A change of colour or retrieve may also trigger a different species to feed, so don’t forget to mix things up and you may discover a technique or colour that triggers a feeding response from a more prized species.
Finally, add a smear of Pro-Cure Super Gel Scent if you’re fishing slow or the bite is tough.
I am constantly impressed by the variety and quality of fish that these tiny plastics continue to attract.
They excel in shallow water, on bright days, rubbish tides and other tough bites, so I would recommend them for everyone – from someone getting into plastics to the hardcore tournament angler who is looking for something different to show the fish on a pressured bite.
As the saying goes, big fish eat big lures and all fish eat small lures – no matter how big or how full we are, we can’t resist a jellybean.
See you on the water…