Voracious, angry, and brimming with pent-up energy, the pitbull striped bass has a habit of pulverizing most soft plastic imitation fish to pieces. Throw saw-jawed bluefish into the mix and mounds of dismembered and destroyed soft lures start piling up in all corners of the boat. That is, unless the bait hanging from the rod tip is composed of some super plastic.
As saltwater anglers up and down the East Coast continue to discover, Z-Man’s ElaZtech® baits are hiding some surprising tricks. For streak specialists, those tricks lead to hookups and high-fives. “I started fishing for striped bass with Z-Man ElaZtech baits several years ago during a TV session in Boston Harbor,” says Kevin Blinkoff, editor of On The Water magazine and expert ray fisherman.
“We were on some big stripers and bluefish, which had locked up a big school of pogies (aka bunkers),” recalls Blinkoff. “But the fish were laser-focused on live baits and hard to fool. One lure that was lively enough to draw your attention away from the real thing was a 10-inch HeroZ. Not only was the action of the lure fantastic, but the way it withstood repeated hits from stingrays and occasional attacks from bluefish made me believe in this unique bait formulation.
“How was it possible that a soft plastic bait could resist the same blue fish that was cutting the live menhaden in half with a sharp-toothed bite?” Blinkoff reflected. The answer lay in the bait’s unique combination of properties: ten times more durable than traditional soft plastics; exceptionally smooth and able to swim like a living thing; buoyant enough to make the bait float in a natural baiting posture; Completely non-toxic within the aquatic environment, and designed and manufactured in the USA.
Ahead of the fall stingray migration, Blinkoff recently reviewed his top five soft plastics, each offering distinct advantages during critical fishing situations.
#5 – DarterZ™ – With its refined eel and baitfish silhouette, the segmented, cutting DarterZ excels in delicate stingray situations such as coastal flats, backwaters, or anywhere you need to cast and present bait quietly without scaring fish.
The slim profile and streamlined head of the bait tapers towards the tail and is met by two fine swim segments that articulate when the water plays off the rear flank of the DarterZ. The tail itself is oriented horizontally, like a dolphin, rather than a fish, to slow the bait down and add extra slip between rod shakes. The bait’s buoyant ElaZtech construction enhances its tendency to slowly rise or sink, depending on the added weight of a jig or hook. Retrieve the app-named DarterZ with short, quick jerks of the rod tip or more aggressive rips, depending on fish attitude and activity level.
High on stealth and seductive swimming moves, the 6-inch DarterZ shines when mounted on a 4/0 ChinlockZ™ SWS Hook. It is also an imitation of a sleeping eel.
#4 – 4″ DieZel MinnowZ™: The classic DieZel MinnowZ, a swimbait for school-sized stripers, delivers a bite-sized bite that looks and swims like many of the skinny, flat-sided bait fish that stripers eat. When the spring school run is underway, anglers often catch 30 or more stripers on a single bait, right off the beach. mounted on a light jig head or a free swing Texas Eye Jighead™, the DieZel MinnowZ moves with accentuated action and back kick.
#3 – Hercules™ Pre-rigged Swimbait: Highly detailed baitfish sculpting and a cleverly designed curved paddle tail give the HerculeZ Swimbait a naturalistic appearance and vibrant, rhythmic swimming action. Cast around 3/8 ounce (4″) or 5/8 ounce (5″) zinc weights, the HerculeZ Swimbait launches over the horizon and sinks at optimum speed for a variety of performances.
Particularly when fishing around blue fish and other lure destroyers, the HerculeZ’
ElaZtech’s composition ensures tear-resistant longevity and the smoothness to move like a live baitfish. This exceptional pre-assembled swimbait offers the best of all worlds. Consider the texture and pliable baiting action of the lure reinforced by the guarantee of durability similar to that of a hard lure and you will quickly understand the popularity of the HerculeZ.
#two – 8” Mag SwimZ™: Blinkoff’s secret search bait for identifying roaming striped bass in vast expanses of water, the 8-inch SwimZ Mag pairs perfectly with a 10/0 weighted ChinlockZ hook. Armed with an active paddle tail and a long, muscular torso, the full-figured baitfish rattles the sidelines with vibrant underwater cues. The weighted hook is offset by Mag SwimZ’s floating ElaZtech body, allowing it to function as a surface or near surface hook, flicking its tail and drawing stripers right into its vulnerable V-wake.
#1 – 10” heroZ™ – The best stingray bait when large sight-feeding bulls are caught on live menhaden, pogies, or other bait fish near the surface. The 10-inch HeroZ offers stripers a substantial bite of food, empowering anglers with its tapered, easy-to-activate bait body and thin, forked tail. Mounted on an 8/0 HeadlockZ HD jighead, the HeroZ can be aggressively ripped, jigged, or swum into a straight retrieve. Or, on a ChinlockZ 10/0 weighted hook, the floating HeroZ can be slowly moved, walked, or caused to float and slowly “die”, enticing even heavy picky bass to bite.
While very few artificial lures capture the attention of live-bait-focused predators, the natural-acting HeroZ may be the exception. “This lure has such a natural baiting action,” says Blinkoff. “It’s the lure I’ve tied myself to every time I go out looking for predators. The HeroZ is the best bait for large dog rays.”
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 and imitated baits in fresh and saltwater. Z-Man among the fastest growing lure brands worldwide.