Competitive kayak angler and musician Abby Abbondanza joins the influential Z-Team
It is true that Abby Abbondanza is a great name for a musician. So maybe it’s a more appropriate moniker for a heavy metal rock star than a country singer. On the other hand, country intersects with rock, pop and other genres; Perfectly fitting for a songwriter, professional fisherman, and salt-of-the-earth gentleman who has reinvented himself as a successful kayak fishing competitor.
When he’s not shooting chatterbaiyouyes® or soft plastics ElaZtech®, new Z-Man pro-staffer Chris “Abby” Abbondanza it still plays a terrifyingly impressive six strings. The original leader of country music singers PovertyNeck Hillbillies, Abbondanza and his bandmates have produced three acclaimed studio albums, including the 2006 single “Mr. Right Now”, which was ranked #2 on the GAC Video Chart for fifteen weeks in a row.
Eventually, the group disbanded, but Abby never stopped writing, playing, and releasing solo albums, and she certainly never stopped fishing. Today, she continues to perform her own brand of country music for audiences throughout the Northeast. But she asks her what is more important, singing or fishing, and her answer speaks for itself. “Put it this way. I schedule my concert calendar around the dates of the fishing tournaments, not the other way around,” Abby says with a welcoming smile. Three years ago, Abbondanza, a Pennsylvania native who lives a few hours from Lake Erie, sold his bass boat to take on competitive kayak fishing full-time.
“Several years ago, my friend Adam Milstead, who is a former UFC fighter and a big guy like me, got me in the kayak,” he recalls. “At first, I thought someone my height (Abby is 6’4”) would have trouble in a kayak. It’s actually quite the opposite, and right now, a kayak is my favorite way to hunt bass. The stealthy, human-powered parts of the sport only add to the appeal. And the folks on tracks like the Hobie BOS, including my good friend and fellow Z-Man pro Jody Queen, make for an amazing fishing community. We are a friendly bunch who like to share each other’s successes and just have a good time. Sometimes Jody and I sit down and just play our guitars for a while. Fishing and music are good for the soul, man.
As Abundance became the sport he loved ever since watching Bill Dance on TV as a kid, he finally discovered Z-Man ElaZtech baits. He knew that the baits were different, better in many ways than the traditional soft plastic ones. For a light angler, he too found the longevity and strength of ElaZtech baits to be a perfect match in kayaking heaven. “Simply packing a few soft plastic bags for a full day of fishing, instead of mountains of traditional baits, is a big plus and a huge time saver,” he points out. “Imagine fishing an entire tournament with just a few packs of baits. Crazy, but perfectly possible with ElaZtech.”
Right away, Abby knew he wanted to meet and connect with the people behind his new bass baits. So, several years ago, she traveled from Pennsylvania to Florida and to the annual ICAST show, hoping to develop friendships and perhaps a new sponsor.
“We liked Abby right away,” recalls Z-Man promotions manager Joey Prochazka. “She is a nice and charismatic guy, and a great fisherman, without a doubt. Everyone here loves his positive energy and his enthusiasm for fishing. However, he is also a laid back and approachable guy who likes to talk about fishing. Abby’s combined talents for music and bass catching make him an interesting human being and we are delighted to welcome him to Team Z.”
In his early years on the Hobie BOS circuit, Abbondanza quickly moved up the leaderboards and qualified for the Tournament of Champions in 2022. “We fished a wide variety of bodies of water, from lakes in Florida and Texas to West Virginia rivers. and the Midwest,” he says. “Wherever I have been, ElaZtech attracts like the baby goat™, Bang StickZ™ and Mag FattyZ™ continue to fish well.”
Among her most intriguing bass tricks, Abby likes to do a nose hook. delicacy TRD™ on a dropshot rig – a clear departure from Ned’s traditional rig. “You can lightly hook a TRD on a dropshot and he’ll stay put, not pull off the hook like other baits,” he points out. “Some days, you can fish all day with just one TRD. The material just doesn’t break, even after being eaten by a group of largemouths.
“I’ll fish it in 25 to 30 feet of water in Lake Erie all the time, and the smallmouth doesn’t get tired. ElaZtech’s floating material floats and lifts the TRD up and stays suspended in place. You don’t really have to do much with it, almost like it’s live bait. Just move it slowly back, pause, and leave it in place and you’ll pick up a lot of bass.”
When strapped into a Ned rig, Abbondanza’s style once again deviates from convention. “I never put a Baby GOAT, TRD or Bang Stick Z on an exposed hook jighead, except when I’m fishing a wobbly head. I prefer to go weedless with my Ned baits, and the NedlockZ™ EWGs is an impressive and underrated finesse template. Amazing fish hooker. But it also allows me to handle small baits without weeds, so I can fish cleanly through rocks, and through grass and brush, with no problem.”
Underscoring Z-Man’s commitment to the burgeoning sport of kayak fishing and his cast of fascinating characters, Z-Man’s Prochazka adds perspective: “Like Drew Gregory, Jody Queen, and Ryan Lambert, Abby has a backstory. super interesting and an exciting future ahead. When he or any of our pros win or discover an innovative way to catch more fish, everyone shares in the rewards.”
Abbondanza sets the final letter:
“I have a thousand bass to chase and only one pack of bait to catch. . .”
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, quickly becoming the most sought after baits in freshwater and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest growing lure brands in the world.