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The Bait from Another Planet
Z-Man® resurrects Ned Rig classic, the TRD MinnowZ™, relays enigmatic bait’s backstory

How exactly does one compute Z-Man Fishing’s captivating, though illogical softbait material, ElaZtech®? For that matter, how to explain the newly-minted TRD MinnowZ™— the bait Ned Kehde of Ned Rig fame calls “incredibly, incredibly, incredibly durable”?

Fueling Kehde’s incredulity is the fact Z-Man’s surprisingly versatile bait actually feels far too malleable to be anywhere near tough enough to withstand the sort of fish-abuse he’s professed.

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“I have never counted the vast numbers of fish a single TRD MinnowZ has caught,” Kehde admits, “but suspect it is in the range of 200 to 300 largemouth bass.” Consider for a moment the possibilities of an 8-pack of baits (8 x 200+ . . .) and you begin to understand how anglers convinced Z-Man to finally resurrect one of its original Ned Rig baits, first released in 2005.

“Based on some pretty strong demand, we’ll be re-releasing the TRD MinnowZ (originally called the Rain MinnowZ) at ICAST,” says Z-Man national sales manager, Glenn Young.

“The TRD MinnowZ moves quite differently in the water than the ZinkerZ™ and the Finesse TRD™,” notes Kehde, referring to his archetypal finesse baits. “It totally lacks salt, making it exceedingly durable, buoyant and very lively underwater. My fellow finesse anglers have caught untold numbers of largemouth bass by rigging a TRD MinnowZ on a mushroom-style jighead, including some 8-pound lunkers.”

Crafted with a slim baitfish profile, the TRD MinnowZ mimics fish fry and other finger-sized fresh- and saltwater forage. The bait’s unassuming shape and subtle movements suggest aquatic life on countless levels, explaining much of its attraction.

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Which points back to the original question: How does one explain a bait that’s so soft, buoyant and lively, yet so virtually indestructible?

“We’re not exactly sure where the TRD MinnowZ came from,” grins Young, at least half serious. “I’m not kidding. The mold to pour this bait just sort of appeared out of nowhere, like, it could be from a different planet. ElaZtech? Well, that’s our little secret.

“We looked at the baits that came out of this mold for a while and realized this could make a cool little inshore saltwater bait for seatrout, and certainly, a sweet dropshot bait. At the same time, we’d just started communicating with Ned, who was using the prototypes of the TRD MinnowZ on a jighead—well before the Ned Rig was even ‘a thing’ in the minds of the public.”

As occasionally happens with discontinued baits, shortly after phasing out the original version, the TRD MinnowZ began to garner a cult-like following. Demand for the bait chiefly came from fans of Ned Kehde’s Finesse News Network. The original MinnowZ also caught on with select saltwater anglers, first along the North Carolina coast, with several independent tackle shops pleading for the bait’s resurrection.

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An exceptionally versatile softbait, the Z-Man TRD MinnowZ can be Ned Rigged for bass, jigged for inshore species and even presented on a dropshot.

“The bait catches fish in so many different scenarios and presents such an array of rigging possibilities, it’s difficult to cover them all,” notes Young.

“In my eyes and from my experiences, the TRD MinnowZ possesses some of the attributes of a reaper, stick-style bait, and worm, all in one,” Kehde observes. “On most outings, I prefer to jig-rig it so the bait lays flat on its side, aligning the tail horizontally. It offends the eyes of some anglers, but the bait fishes beautifully this way.”

Young, who says the MinnowZ excels on a dropshot rig, suggests a 1/0 EWG style or lightwire worm hook to keep the bait aligned horizontally, and to slide through vegetation. Interestingly, Young has also thrown the bait to bass in shallow grass. “Rig it unweighted on a 1/0 EWG hook and you can work it as a topwater-jerkbait combination. Has a sweet little darting action. And the TRD MinnowZ’s extra buoyancy keeps it right up near the surface and over the grass.”

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NED RIG, NEXT GENERATION – The TRD MinnowZ perfectly matches Z-Man’s new Finesse BulletZ jighead for heavy cover finesse apps.

The TRD MinnowZ has seen success in the salt, too, though its true potential remains undiscovered. Z-Man’s Joey Prochazka says the bait has always been an exceptional imitator of anchovies and glass minnows—both highly appetizing forage species for inshore fish—as well as an excellent candlefish clone for salmon anglers on the West Coast.

“Pairing the bait with a Trout Eye™ Finesse jighead has been a really potent presentation for seatrout and redfish,” notes Prochazka. “Interestingly, we’ve also seen a lot of saltwater anglers employing Ned Rig tactics in tidal areas. We think the TRD MinnowZ will become a staple for many light tackle anglers in the salt—especially in winter and spring when baitfish are small and matching the hatch is the key.”

Versatile and intriguing, the 3.5-inch TRD MinnowZ is an undeniable fish-catcher. Ned Rig it. Drop shot it. Jerk it. Swim it. It’s almost impossible to mess it up. Hot off Z-Man’s original molds, the TRD MinnowZ sports ten appealing color patterns, sold in 8-packs for $4.49 each—available in stores in mid-July. For more information, visit zmanfishing.com