So what are they, and how do you fish them?
The Mag Lip Finesse 2.5 and 3.0 are a series of lures based on the popular Mag Lip lures from Yakima, but made for finesse bass fishing rather than the trout, salmon and walleye typically targeted by Northern anglers using the original Mag Lips. Rather than being fished like a crankbait, the lures are suspended using lead strips and fished slowly, with fish often caught on the pause during the retrieve.
“It’s going to be difficult for fishin’ folks not to look and fish the Mag-Lip Finesse as a crankbait,” Holscher said of the familiar design of the lure. “These are something totally different in finesse presentations. It’s all about the skip-beat-pause actions and patterns that make these baits so productive and unique.”
Lawrence resident Ned Kehde, a longtime outdoors writer and fishing legend who is the namesake of the iconic Ned Rig lure used by Midwest Finesse anglers, said that the Mag Lip Finesse lures likely will prove to be an important new addition to the finesse lineup as one of the first finesse hardbaits.
“I was with Clyde and we kind of field tested it,” Kehde said. “Essentially, it’s a jerk bait. It’s like an old Rapala or a Rogue or any kind of a new type of jerkbait, essentially, but it looks like the old-fashioned Flatfish or the old-fashioned Lazy Ike.
“One of the things where it’s different than the old-fashioned Lazy Ike and the Flatfish is that you can actually deadstick it, you know, just jerk-jerk-jerk and just let it suspend. That’s really one of the great attributes of it. Really, Midwest Finesse, we don’t have any hardbaits in our repertoire, so this is taking Midwest Finesse to a new dimension.”
Kehde said he saw the addition of a finesse hardbait as something that would continue to grow the legacy of the Midwest Finesse style of fishing. The style dates back 60 years or more, but has surged in popularity in recent years because of his advocacy for it.
“Midwest Finesse has really grown in the past, I would say, 10 to 12 years, just the amount of different baits that we have available to us,” Kehde said. “This is one more attribute to it. And it’s going to continue to grow, I would imagine. I’m getting to be an old man — I’m 78 — so I don’t have too many more years to implement ’em, but this is a new one and I’m sure there will be a few more as time goes on, and the art of this thing will be expanding.”
Kehde says he always keeps about five baits ready to throw every time he goes fishing. He’ll work one for five to 10 minutes, and if that doesn’t work he’ll switch to another. A lure’s effectiveness can change just as quickly as a bass’ mood, and he said a lure that works extremely well for an hour may all of a sudden stop working and he’ll need to switch again.
“Clyde’s bait is one of those baits you just have to tie it on and just check it,” Kehde said. “Some days it’ll be fantastic, some hours it’ll be fantastic and some weeks, from week to week or even for a month it might be fantastic. And then we’ll go through spells where it’s just an OK bait or it might even be a lackluster one, but that’s just the way fishing baits are. People think the (Z-Man) TRD or the ZinkerZ is the Midwest Finesse bait, but in my boat I have about 18 Midwest Finesse baits I can use — different ones, you know. So this adds just one more element to our repertoire.”
In the Midwest Finesse application, Kehde agreed with Holscher that it wasn’t the type of lure you can just take out of the box and throw without making adjustments, although you can most likely still catch numbers of fish running it like a crankbait out of the box thanks to its design.
“When I was with Clyde working with it, we were down in Coffey (County) the winter before last, and the water temperature was about 41 degrees and it worked pretty well,” Kehde said. “I like the way you could jerk-jerk and deadstick it and it would remain completely suspended, it wouldn’t go up or go down. And if you would add just a little bit of weight, you know, some little Suspendots on it, you could actually let it drop very, very slowly.”
Aside from figuring out how to manipulate them to fish the correct way for bass, Holscher also reworked the Mag Lip’s color schemes for the Mag Lip Finesse to match some of the best color patterns Holscher and Kehde had noted from fishing with Z-Man’s finesse plastics. Holscher ended up producing eight initial color choices with the blessing of Z-Man Fishing Products president Daniel Nussbaum: California Craw, Canada Craw, Coppertreuse, Green Pumpkin Goby, Mud Minnow, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Purple Haze and Sprayed Glass.
A fishing friendship
Ned and Clyde have been good fishing buddies throughout the years and have bounced many ideas of each other when it comes to finesse fishing for black bass. They first bonded over fishing, however, when seeking out white bass in 1990 at Perry Lake. He said Clyde was working for Southwestern Bell and was just beginning his career as a guide when he took him out for the first time to fish.
“Back in those days, our lakes were U.S. Army Corps of Engineer lakes and had just absolutely fantastic white bass populations, and we could catch them in August on shorelines, just fishing shorelines,” Kehde said. “We got a lot of boat traffic in Perry and it would create a lot of wave action on some of these shorelines, main lake points and main lake shorelines, and we would go up and down those things with either a marabou jig, kind of a gray or white/chartreuse marabou jig, or a Rat-L-Trap type of bait.
“We went there in an August evening and the three of us fished I’m guessing about three hours and we had 125 white bass. We had 75 off of one area. It was a main lake point and its adjacent shorelines. So that was my first introduction to fishing with Clyde. I just met him up there and we went fishing, and we’ve been friends ever since.”
There has been a positive early reception for the lure among finesse anglers. Former Kansas State bass angler Ethan Dhuyvetter, who now runs the YouTube channel Online Outdoorsman, tried out the bait from a kayak in one of his recent videos and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked when fishing over rocks. Thomas Heinen, a Washburn student who fishes competitively and is a disciple of Kehde’s, has fished the lure a couple times so far and shares his mentor’s optimism for the new setup’s potential.
“I think the bait will be a great type of bait to fish in rough conditions,” Heinen said. “I haven’t fished it much but can’t wait to try it more to work it up in my arsenal. I think it will be very effective.”