The classic winning bait gets a little brother

‘Greatest of all time’ Z-Man® Scented Jerk ShadZ™ adds a refined 3.5” version

A cool half million and a shelf full of trophy shiny bass is not a bad haul for a single unassuming soft lure. “Over the last six or seven years, the 4-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ has produced some great tournament wins, from 150 boat races around my home waters in Ontario to the Tennessee River,” notes Z-Man pro Jeff “ Gussy Gustafson, who sailed each of his 2023 Bassmaster Classic winning basses with the same exceptional soft lure. “It’s crazy to consider that I’ve now made over half a million dollars on Jerk ShadZ alone.”

But overshadowed by Gussy’s “greatest bait ever” chatter, whispers of a little secret have gradually leaked out. “During the 2023 Classic, when the biting got tough, I reduced the size to a slightly shorter bait to give the bass a smaller profile, less than 4 inches,” he divulged. “Over the years, this modded Jerk ShadZ has fooled a lot of loudmouth critics and certainly helped me secure victory in the Classic. Actually, anytime the conditions get tough, a reduced bait can make a world of difference.”

So when Z-Man recently put a new 3.5-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ in Gussy’s hands, he was understandably excited.

“Really happy to add the new fry-sized Jerk ShadZ to my bag of tricks,” he admitted. “Many times, a small adjustment in bait size can cause a large increase in bites. During cold fronts or heavy fishing pressure, just a small adjustment can go a long way. Sometimes bass that are hesitant to bite into a larger offering will completely inhale a slightly smaller bait. It’s like changing focus from a year class of baitfish to a smaller or younger one; it works because it is a better match for the predominantly natural forage.

The new scented 3.5″ Jerk ShadZ from Z-Man: Blue Glimmer by Gussy.

“I should also mention that walleye really like a bit smaller bait. Mounted on a jighead, the new Jerk ShadZ will be a natural visual producer, wherever you cast it.”

On the surface, a half inch haircut may not seem significant. But shrink and rescale the entire head, torso, and tail proportionately and you’re immediately throwing out a beautiful little baitball snack. Decidedly smaller than its 4-inch brethren, the new 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ appeals to predators focused on young shad, oysters, smelt, and other minnow species.

An optimal match for interactive fishing with live sonar, Gussy believes the newer, more subtle Jerk ShadZ will see extended playtime and an increasing role in the upcoming season, from the vertical “finesse” on a jighead to the dropshot rig for working without weeding or throwing. springs with a 2/0 weedless hook.

Gussy says the new, smaller Scented Jerk ShadZ will see extended playtime for walleye and bass.

For saltwater anglers following the trend toward Ned-rig sized inshore baits, the 3.5” Jerk ShadZ offers an intriguing offering. “Particularly in the spring, or after cold fronts, the new, small-sized Jerk ShadZ offers a bite-sized snack to fool redfish, hard bass and selective trout,” notes Capt CA Richardson of Z-Man pro and FlatsClass TV. “Set it Weedless or Texposed on a ChinlockZ SWS™ 2/0 hook or a free-swing Texas Eye™ Finesse Jighead for two different looks and actions.

“With the ChinlockZ, you get a nice horizontal drop and then a cool sub-surface walking action when you move it and let go,” Richardson explains. “It also works great for dock jumping for snook. For a smaller smooth jerkbait, the 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ just has some killer moves, including a tail that never stops kicking and shaking, even at rest.”

The new 3.5″ Scented Jerk ShadZ (below) offers demanding bass players a slightly smaller bite.

To celebrate its maiden dive, the 3.5-inch Z-Man Jerk ShadZ will sport two stunning new color patterns to match the forage (also available on the 4-inch and 5-inch Jerk ShadZ). one of Gustafson’s all-time favorite patterns, Gussy Glitter Blue hums with a subtle shimmer and shine. “For smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass almost everywhere I’ve fished, this is a superlative color,” she reveals. “The Jerk ShadZ’ ElaZtech® composition really adds shine to this pattern. He is just one of those fishermen that gives me confidence. Also in lightly tinted or tannic colored water, Glimmer Blue emits a pleasant underwater glow that is constantly eaten.”

Another dazzling, electric shad is a proven pattern making its debut as an ElaZtech bait. “This is a color that has proven itself on many of the best swimbaits,” says Gussy. “It’s a great natural addition to the family, one of nearly 40 colors of Jerk ShadZ bait.”

A smooth and lively yet inconceivably durable jerkbait, the new 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ adds a small baitfish profile to the ever-popular ElaZtech series, which currently consists of 4-, 5-, and 7-inch sizes. Molded with a high action split tail and belly hook slot for easy weedless rigging and solid hooks. Packed with two layers of powerful aroma and flavor, the 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ is infused with salt and marinated with a 100% natural Pro-Cure Super Gel attractant. Scheduled for release in October, the Scented Jerk ShadZ is made in the USA. For more information, visit

“Z-Man’s Jerk ShadZ has rewarded me with a lot of money in tournaments. Without a doubt, he will go down as my personal best bait of all time.”

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 10X Tough ElaZtech® soft baits, among the most sought-after baits in freshwater and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest growing lure brands in the world.