Of barn doors and soft baits that smell good

hard teeth matadorZ™ baits last longer than Alaskan halibut

“Everyone thinks that halibut just sit on the bottom like a doormat, sulking and waiting for a swim meal,” says Z-Man pro fisherman Miles “Sonar” Burghoff. “But when you see them on an underwater camera, you quickly discover that these eccentric fish are anything but bottom eaters. In fact, they are one of the coolest predators you will ever come across, and if you want to experience an incredible bite from the halibut, broaden your focus with the multi-faceted ElaZtech® baits.”

Recently, during his 18th Alaska fishing expedition, which includes many years as a fishing guide, the Tennessee-based bass ace employed a rapid-fire halibut harvesting program that took advantage of the species’ little-known affinity for hunting in open sea.

“We put an underwater camera there, and all we saw was a halibut sailing along, actively swimming high above the ocean floor,” Burghoff recalled. “It made me realize that these fish are much more predatory than sedentary bottom feeders. We catch them all the time while salmon fishing. I believe they feed by sight first, although they certainly rely on smell to find prey as well. Heck, we’ve had a large halibut swim up to 100 feet just to catch a trolling lure.”

Drifting over the ground from deep-sea halibut, Burghoff noted that most anglers, including those in his own fishing group, typically field cut herring and squid. “But I think it’s much more fun, and efficient, to actively dance with a matadorZ™ – a super soft and lively, yet exceptionally durable ElaZtech bait designed specifically for large halibut and flounder,” he believes. “The big crooked tail of the bait never stops beating, beating; even a bit of tidal current can activate the tail of the bait, which also helps distribute its powerful scent.”

Infused with concentrated Pro-Cure Flounder Pounder Super Gel, DoormatadorZ tickles every sense of a halibut’s brain: action, vibration, color, and flavor. “There’s no question that natural, live baits attract a lot of ‘barn door’ sized halibut, but on this trip, given the efficiency and durability of the DoormatadorZ, we easily outperformed cutbait at least three to one.”

Rigged with 3 ounces Headlock Z HD™ and a brightly colored 6-inch DoormatadorZ, Burghoff quickly dropped the bite into 170 to 230 feet of crystal clear, halibut-rich water. He keyed in the latest times of outgoing tides and the earliest times of incoming tides to target the most active predators. “Release the bait and let it bottom out in free fall,” Burghoff instructs. “Halibut are really curious fish, and I think the sound the heavy HeadlockZ jig makes when it hits the bottom helps attract fish to your lure.”

From there, Burghoff performs a series of subtle jigging motions, bouncing the lure up and down to activate the smooth, curly tail. Gradually he raises the lure in the water column, several feet at a time, to float seductively in front of active, suspended fish.

“It’s amazing how aggressively they bite brightly colored baits,” he observes. “In just a few hours one day, I caught eleven halibut on the same bait. Those patterns of brightness demonstrate how much halibut feed by sight. Pink glow is great. But Nuked Chicken Glow is another fantastic pattern that I also think closely mimics the crustaceans they eat.”

Speaking of sustenance, Burghoff typically catches only a few smaller fish for dinner, releasing most of his larger halibut. “Those smaller 20 and 30 pound ones are perfect for my favorite recipe: macadamia nut encrusted halibut fillets made nice and crispy in the air fryer. Awesome.”

Which also describes the amazing durability of such a soft bait. The fish can chew them all they want. What really sets these ElaZtech baits Aside from other soft plastics, and it’s a big deal when repeatedly dropping the lure in hundreds of feet of water, there’s the durability factor. You have so many rock minnows and other hummingbirds down there; Halibut also have some pretty serious teeth. But you never have to worry that something has ripped your tail off, nor do you need to constantly go back to check, because ElaZtech is just stupidly tough.

“I finished my 18th trip to Alaska on the same DoormatadorZ, with at least fifteen halibut to its credit, and counting when we return next year. Try that with any other soft plastic bait and see what happens.”

About Z-Man Fishing Products: A dynamic company based in Charleston, South Carolina, Z-Man Fishing Products has been fusing cutting-edge fishing tackle with technology for nearly three decades. Z-Man has long been one of the industry’s largest suppliers of silicone skirt material used in jigs, spinnerbaits, and other lures. Creator of the original ChatterBait®, Z-Man is also the renowned innovator of ElaZtech 10X Tough soft baits, quickly becoming the most coveted baits in fresh and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest growing lure brands in the world.