Thursday, July 20, 2023

Small Baits, Bite Detection and the Short Rod Crusade


New Z-Man® Drew’s Ultimate Ned Rig Rods blend primo rod-crafting with whispers of retro finesse

Ladson, SC (July 3, 2023) – Before and after local fishing forays, circa the 1960s, a cadre of exceptional Midwestern anglers gathered to shoot the breeze down at Ray Fincke’s old Kansas City tackle shop. Fincke’s resembled a lot of other family-owned baitshops of the time—truckloads of lures, rods, livebait and other angling essentials all crammed into a cozy little space. Imagine the good-natured razzing, the exchange of breakthrough angling ideas that must have passed, as Ned Kehde, Chuck Woods, Guido Hibdon, Drew Reese and other architects of Midwest finesse (aka Ned rig fishing) sipped coffee and spent hard-earned dollars on the latest and greatest tackle.

A generation later, the legendary Ned and Drew have been joined by thousands of their closest friends—successful Ned rig fans from all over the planet. To this day, they continue innovating fish-catching products (Reese was co-creator of Z-Man’s celebrated Finesse TRD™, TRD TicklerZ™ and Finesse ShroomZ™.) And now, in concert with Z-Man, Reese has perfected Drew’s Ultimate Ned Rig Rods—the first true-to-technique tools built with the highest-grade blanks, components and rod-building wizardry available.   

Fist bumps to the original heroes of Midwest finesse style angling—and in celebration of its longtime friendship with these great anglers— Z-Man has merged the past and future of Ned rigging into a singular series of light-line, finesse lure spinning rods. Designed by Reese himself, Drew’s Ultimate Ned Rig Rods merge the original art of Midwest finesse with impeccable rod-building brilliance.

Tennessee handles reduce weight, while allowing anglers to customize the rod's balance point and reel position.

Two medium-light power / fast action models include a 5’4” (4- to 8-pound test) and 5’10” (4- to 10-pound test) rod, each epitomizing an emerging trend toward shorter, lighter, ultra-precise spinning rods. The quill-like rods weigh a mere 1.75-ounces and 2.2-ounces, respectively.

“There’s an undeniable joy in fishing shorter, feather-light, super-efficient spinning tackle,” notes Reese, among the first anglers to tap the power ElaZtech® baits for bass. “I think we’re already seeing a renaissance in true light-line, finesse bait style fishing. As fishing pressure intensifies—and folks discover they just want to detect more bites and keep catching fish— this movement will only grow. It’s why, in part, we built these sweet little rods to bring out all the best advantages of Ned rigging for bass and a host of other species.”

Founded on elite-grade carbon fiber blanks, Drew’s Ultimate Ned Rig Rods integrate Toray 12K High Modulus Fibers with a modulus value of 50 million, resulting in superlative tensile strength exceeding 640 Ksi. Skeletal, super lightweight SSR guides with stainless steel frames and double swaged stainless-steel inserts enhance line flow, while bolstering strength and durability. A premium cork Tennessee handle greatly reduces rod weight, increases sensitivity and allows for user-customized reel placement to optimize rod balance.

“Anglers who see a Tennessee handle today might scratch their heads,” admits Reese. “But experiencing a rod’s true performance can’t be fully realized until you’ve found the precise balance point, or fulcrum, between rod and reel. We chose a cork Tennessee handle because it’s many times lighter and ten times more sensitive than traditional reel seats. The rod’s handle allows each angler to maximize comfort and sensitivity by customizing reel placement on the sweet spot. For me, it’s a 2000 size Daiwa, positioned just forward from the handle’s center. Couple strips of electrical tape work nicely, providing a secure, low-profile grip that fits comfortably in your hand.

“In order to achieve the same balance with a 7-foot rod, by contrast, you’d need to extend the butt section by two feet, and that adds extra, unnecessary weight to the rod.”

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