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You Can Never Be Too Soft

Mark Romanack

Northern pike are especially vulnerable to swimbait jigs with paddle-tail grubs. This one fell to the Z-Man PaddlerZ 5 inch size.


When it comes to soft plastics, softer is better. The softer these lures become, the more natural they feel to the fish, the better action they deliver and the more bites they produce.

The problem with most soft plastics is not that they don’t catch fish, it’s that they only catch a fish or two before ripping, tearing or otherwise getting damaged beyond repair.

If you are one of those anglers who routinely fishes soft plastics I’m betting at the end of the day you also have piles of ripped and torn plastics to discard. The cost of these soft lures can become staggering.


THE SOFT AND STRONG TYPE

Until the introduction of ElaZtech from Z-Man, there was no such thing as soft plastics that are both soft and strong. ElaZtech is a unique type of soft plastic that is exceptionally soft and ultra stretchy. This unique combination creates a soft plastic fishing lure that can be used over and over again without tearing or ripping. A bag of ElaZtech plastic will out last several bags of the other brands and even better this stuff catches fish.

Z-Man offers all the popular styles of soft plastics in ElaZtech including worms, grubs, flukes, craws, creatures, paddle tail grubs, split tail minnows, tubes and finesse baits. Even when fishing toothy critters like northern pike, these baits hold up amazingly well.


SCENTED PLASTICS

Some of our favorite Z-Man products are those that come factory impregnated with Pro Cure Super Gel a natural fishing scent made from real baitfish. The PaddlerZ and ShadZ have become staples for jig fishing walleye, smallmouth bass and lake trout.

The natural scent stream these baits create lasts 30 to 40 minutes. The baits themselves last a lot longer than that! We routinely re-apply Pro Cure Super Gel to our Z-Man plastics about every half hour.


The Z-Man Scented PaddlerZ has become a favorite paddle-tail grub with the crew at Fishing 411 TV. For river jigging the four inch size is lights out to walleye.


BASS AND SALTWATER

While it’s obvious that Z-Man markets their products primarily to bass anglers and also near shore saltwater fishermen, these plastics are just as deadly on Great Lakes species including walleye, northern pike, musky, panfish, lake trout, browns and salmon.


Big lake trout love big plastics. The Z-Man Mag SwimZ is an eight inch plastic paddle-tail that works especially well for jigging these denizens of the deep.


FAVORITE PRESENTATIONS

In the last few years we have identified several Z-Man products that have become “regulars” in our bag of tricks. For jigging river walleye the 4 inch PaddlerZ has become one of our “go to” favorites on the Detroit River and also the St. Clair River. This paddle-tail has just the right amount of thump for triggering strikes from active fish.

When the walleye seemingly have lock jaw, we switch to the Jerk ShadZ and it’s game on. The best jigging stroke for the Jerk ShadZ is something we call “tight line jigging” and it involves lifting and dropping the bait so slowly that no slack occurs in the line.

For pitching jigs and swimsuits to summer time walleye, the five and six inch SwimmerZ is perfect when matched up with 1/2, 3/4 and even one ounce jigs. The key is to use heavy jigs that can be fished quickly and in deeper water. Typically we make a long cast, let the jig and grub settle to bottom and then employ a slow and steady retrieve that keeps the bait close to bottom.

For monster lake trout we have taken some amazing fish jigging with Mag SwimZ an eight inch paddle tail that drives trout crazy. This bait works both for vertical jigging and also for making long casts and slowly retrieving back to the boat.

In the spring of the year when pike are up in the shallow weeds, the Scented Jerk Shad in the seven inch size is perfect for fishing Texas rigged with no weight. This set up can be fished in the thickest salad without hang-ups and pike crush these things.

For summer smallmouth we gravitate towards drop shot fishing using the Finesse TRD. This set up puts so many fish in the boat we rarely need to fish anything else.

We have even found a soft plastics that work wonders ice fishing. The Trick ShotZ 3.5 inch and also the Swimmin’ Trout Trick are deadly effective when jigging for whitefish. Both of these plastics do a great job of imitating round goby that make up the majority of the winter diet for whitefish. The trick is to bounce these plastics on the bottom, then dead stick them. The bite is little more than a sensation of weight, but lake whitefish can’t help themselves.


The Z-Man Finesse TRD is a staple for drop shot fishing smallmouth bass. On most days the crew needs little else to catch monster bass like this nice smallmouth.


WRAPPING IT UP

In the world of soft plastics pretty much everyone agrees that softer is better. The problem with most plastics is they are so soft they are easily damaged after just one or two fish. Z-Man’s ElaZtech is different and if you haven’t tried these baits you will be amazed how soft and durable a soft plastic can be.

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