Q. When did you find out that Z-man wanted to sponsor you and what was your reaction?
Q. Why do you prefer using Z-man products compared to others?
Heinen: Simple, their baits are just better. The baits I have thrown for several years now are just improving daily. Their baits can catch 50 to 75 fish and still be usable. I know some people catch 100-plus per bait before they have to get a new one. This ElaZtech technology is just crazy. Other baits, you know, can catch one to five fish per bait, if lucky. But not on the ElaZtech plastics, these plastics are just insanely good.
Heinen: This question is kinda tough, only because I throw so many. I throw many of their products at different times. So far, my favorite baits by Z-Man are the Finesse TRD, ZinkerZ, Finesse ShadZ and ChatterbaitZ. These baits are the ones I throw more often. I throw most of their plastics quite frequently, but these are my main fish catchers.
Q. How do you work those products to produce the best bite?
Heinen: You know, there are variety of different ways to throw these ElaZtech plastics. The Finesse TRD has six main retrieves. My favorite way to throw them is “drag n’ stick,” “dead stick” and “drag n’ shake.” The “drag n’ stick” is simply dragging your bait back and pausing so often. This makes the TRD look like a roaming crawfish, and fish just go crazy. The second one is “dead stick” — this simply means do nothing. The TRD got its nickname “the do-nothin’ bait” simply for this reason. The “dead stick” can fire up a school of smallmouth. The bait looks like a crawfish resting on a rock — talk about a fish frenzy. My third retrieve is the “drag n’ shake.” This “drag n’ shake” gives the bait a hopping presentation in the water. This retrieve is one legend Ned Kehdeloves to throw. I learned how to throw this retrieve by him. Fishing with Ned was just an honor. You learn so much fishing with the man. He showed me that retrieve, and now it’s one of my favorite ways to throw a bait. This retrieve is just extremely effective.
Q. Do you change your approach much based on conditions?
Heinen: Yes. You know, if the fishing is active, I will give my bait a more active look. They seem to want a more active bait when the fishing is good, but when the fishing is slow and bites occur every so often, that’s when I do the slower retrieves. When I’m looking for a reaction strike, I will throw the chatterbait. This is a moving bait that vibrates when retrieved. The bait has a blade on the jig that moves and vibrates through the water. This bait is very effective in dirty water because of the sounds and vibration it gives off. This bait is great for any water conditions, also.
Q. What color schemes work best in Kansas waters?
Heinen: Well, I throw tons of colors in different conditions. When I look at the water, I look at visibility. How far down you can see can determine what color to throw. If the water is very dirty, you know, like after a rain or something, my favorite color is black and blue. The reason is because you want to make the bait visible for the bass. If they can’t see it very well, you won’t get the bites you want. Now, when the lake is clear or “normal” color, I will throw green pumpkin. Yes, there are tons of different colors on the market, and most of them have their own reason. For instance, the color “molting craw” by Z-Man is an orange-and-black-sided bait. The color represents a molting stage in crawfish. So this can catch more fish than any other color in certain conditions.
Q. What sort of setup do you recommend (rod, reel, line)?
Heinen: There are different setups to throw. When I throw the Finesse TRD, I spool my spinning reel with 10- to 12-pound braid by YO-ZURI fishing line. Then I tie on a 3- to 5-foot leader at the end of the braid, with 10- to 12-pound fluorocarbon line by YO-ZURI. You can throw the whole spool of line with just 10- to 12-pound fluorocarbon, but you can save more line using the braid.
Q. Does Zman offer any hard lures like crank baits?
Heinen: Z-Man does not make any crankbaits, but they do have hardbaits. They have the chatterbait, which is very effective. They offer 10 different types of chatterbaits. They are made for their own types of conditions and scenarios. I throw all different kinds of chatterbaits on the market. My favorite chatterbait is the Original Chatterbait Elite in the green pumpkin coloring with a split-tail trailerZ in Hot Chartreuse as a trailer. This bait is great to throw in most Kansas waters.
Q. Anything else you’d like to add?
Heinen: I am just very fortunate to have this company behind my back. I have thrown their baits for years and now I am working with them. This opportunity doesn’t come to many, so I am grateful for everything that has happened. I am excited to start the new season with great people. We just finished up our adult club tournaments for the year and I was fortunate to be Non-Boater of the Year again, with this being my second year fishing it. I couldn’t have done it without Z-Man Fishing Products. Their baits have come to play with every tournament this season. You really just can’t put down their baits.