Case Officer: John Cheyne
Name: TRD TicklerZ
Lure Type: Worms, grubs and senkos
Size: 7cm (2.75″)
Price: £5.49 for pack of 8
Since TRD’s first hit these shores a few years ago, they have taken the perch fishing world in particular by storm. Originally designed for Largemouth Bass in the states at first glance they look pretty uninspiring, a slightly tapered little sausage at best and at worst, especially in brown colour schemes, they look exactly like their TRD name suggests, a turd (yes we know TRD actually stands for The Real Deal). But as European anglers were soon to find out, perch and zander absolutely love them. Maybe it’s the way these buoyant baits sit up and beg to be slurped, maybe it’s because they look like everything and nothing or maybe it’s the subtle vibrations and wobbles that they produce even when seemingly left stationary. One things for sure, TRD’s fished Ned rig style catch lots and lots of fish, particularly lots of and lots of big perch. So when Zman brought out a cool looking new version of the TRD called TRD TicklerZ, we just knew we needed to test them out.
The TicklerZ come packed in the classic Zman resealable bag which contain 8 lures. Although they are the same size as a standard TRD at 7cm they have a different body profile, with a flat slightly wider ‘head’ which tapers back for about 4.5cm where the body splits into four slim 2.5cm long tenticles. The lures are made of Zman’s famous Elaztech material, which is highly buoyant, super stretchy and very durable. Basically they are a flat nosed TRD with frilly bits ! As with all Zman baits the finish and colours on the baits are fantastic. The lures are heavily impregnated with salt and as with all standard unscented Elaztech lures they have virtually no smell at all. The colour we decided to try for our tests was Bubblegut, which is a dark pink/brown combination.
The TicklerZ rigged on an Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Finesse Jig Head
You only have to look at the TicklerZ and if you have fished with TRD’s you just kind of know they are going to catch fish, the question we really wanted to ask is “can they possibly be as effective as the standard and legendary Finesse TRD ?” The only way to find out was to fish with them, so that’s what we did. First venue was a canal stretch that we have had a fair bit of success with decent perch in the past. We fished the TicklerZ on a standard Ned rig set up using 3.5g Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp (LNJ18) Finesse jigs and 6lb Fluoro.
A TicklerZ photgraphed next to a standard finesse TRD for comparison.
It was a pretty cold day when we fished and to be fair we weren’t exactly expecting the perch to be chasing around after food, but it wasn’t until we slowed the lure right down and let it sit stationary for a good 10-20 seconds between movements that we started to get the fish interested. This is one of the occasions when a Ned Rig style bait really works as even when you leave the bait static, you just know that the currents underwater will be subtly moving the bait for you, especially with the TicklerZ and it’s slim fronds. We managed a couple of really nice perch up to 38cm which sucked the lure straight off the bottom while it was stationary.
This lovely stripey inhaled the TicklerZ straight off the bottom. If you look really carefully you just might see the lure next to the net, mounted on a chartreuse Finesse Jig.
Having had some success with the lure on a canal venue, I was keen to see what some river perch thought of it, but with the rivers all high and unfishable with all the heavy rain it looked like the season was going to finish before I had a chance to give it a go. However with just a couple of days to spare, the rain stopped and the river dropped and I managed to head to a lovely looking swim on the Wye. There was a big back eddy and an overhanging tree that just screamed perch. I’ll be honest, I didn’t put the TicklerZ on straight away and instead tried to find a stripey with a selection of shads and spinnerbaits with no success. The fishiest feature was that tree, but it was tough to get a lure underneath it. The river still had a fair old bit of flow on, so I popped a TicklerZ onto a 5.3g weedless Finesse jig and cast it upstream of the tree. By lifting gently and bouncing the lure down and round with the flow I was able to get it right under the tree, “Let it just sit there for ten seconds” I said to myself, trying to be patient and not move the lure too much. I had counted to six when the rod tip thumped and I instinctively struck. The rod bent round hard and something very solid was trying to get into the roots of the tree. “Big Chub.” I thought, “That feels too heavy for a perch.” I didn’t want to let the fish snag me so I bullied it out, thumbing the spool to stop the drag working. The fish headed out into the flow and gave me a fair old tussle, but eventually I had it coming to the surface, at which point I realised it wasn’t a chub it was a big, big perch. Thankfully, I managed to keep my head long enough to get the fish to the net and scrambled up the bank. It wasn’t until I laid the net down that I realised just what a cracker the TicklerZ had tempted. I’ve had a few 4lb + fish from reservoirs and gravel pits, but my river perch PB is 3lb 7oz so I held my breath as I weighed the fish on my Reuben Heaton Flyweights. Result ! 3lb 14oz a new river perch PB. Thank you Zman TicklerZ.
3lb 14oz of River Wye Stripey !
Tips and Tricks
One thing that we have found with all the Zman Elaztech baits, is that you can change both their action and their colour by pre-stretching them before use. It’s not always necessary or even desirable, but sometimes it can really give you the edge. Pre-stretched elaztech is softer and more pliable and therefore has more action. With the ned baits, this means that they will shiver and quiver even more when left static, which seems to be such a key tactic when fishing these baits. Pro-Guide and LureTour reviewer Gary Palmer shows us how to do this pre-stretching below.
One thing you will notice, and it’s worth being aware of this, is that the colour of the lure will become quite a bit more muted when you have pre-stretched it. I actually like this with some colours, but be prepared for changes. The surface becomes quite a bit more pitted and rough when you stretch them too, and we believe that this allows scents and attractants to adhere to the lures much more easily, which again is a bonus. The key thing though is that the lure becomes softer and more pliable, we are convinced this can lead to a little bit more action, which can catch you more fish !
A standard TicklerZ next to a pre-stretched one. As you can see the stretched one is longer and the colours have become lighter/more muted. You may even get the odd little split if you are too rough, but it will only be in the surface.
I think it’s fair to say that we definitely like the TicklerZ. It has all the attributes of the classic TRD and a little more besides. The fronds are a huge addition and they definitely add more movement and give the bait a slightly different profile. So far it has fished really well for us and we are at a stage with the bait that we are just hugely confident in it’s ability to attract big fish. The lures work out at a little under £0.70 each and when you consider how long Elaztech baits last, that is very good value for money. We absolutely love the “bubblegut” colour scheme, but after the success we have had, we will certainly be looking to add some more colours to our armoury.
Build Quality: Zman lures are produced to a very high standard
Value For Money: Great price and these baits last a long time
Performance: They proved themselves by catching the fish !
Overall: A more mobile alternative to a standard TRD’s, these baits are going to catch lots of fish.
The Zman TicklerZ has been awarded the Luretour Gold award.
You can find out more information about Zman lures at: Zmanfishing.com
We bought our lures from predatortackle.co.uk