Ladson, SC – “We call it the ‘Salty Ned ShrimpZ,'” says inshore saltwater guide and Z-Man pro, Captain C.A. Richardson. “It’s my newest little saltwater nugget for big redfish, snook and seatrout. When the water’s cold or extra clear—or any time fishing pressure is extreme—a Salty Ned can be even better than livebait. And now, rather than borrowing baits from our freshwater boxes, we’ve got a new Ned goody, all to ourselves.”
In recent seasons, as Richardson and other intelligent inshore anglers recognized the parallels between freshwater bass tactics and those for redfish, seatrout and other saltwater species, a renewed approach emerged. “From the first day we experimented with a Ned rig under cold, bluebird skies, our results spoke volumes,” says Richardson, the brains behind Flats Class TV and University. “We’ve followed the evolution of freshwater finesse techniques and the rise of the Ned rig for smallmouth and largemouth bass from day one. So, it made perfect sense that similar methods and baits could excel in saltwater for a lot of reasons. Turns out, the Salty Ned is like a tasty little cocktail shrimp for selective inshore predators.”
A fishing industry first saltwater specific profile designed for the increasingly popular Ned Rig finesse technique, the Salty Ned ShrimpZ is a subtle 2.5-inch live shrimp mimic composed of 100-percent ElaZtech. Not only does the new finesse saltwater bait resemble an actual crustacean in anatomy, it’s buoyant, extra soft yet durable body gives anglers several key advantages.
“We’ve known from the start that Ned rigs can be highly effective for saltwater gamefish, particularly in the colder months when fish on the flats become finicky,” believes Z-Man President and bait designer Daniel Nussbaum. “What’s been particularly surprising, though, is the way saltwater anglers have so enthusiastically embraced size #1 hooks and 2-1/2-inch baits.
“In terms of bites and appeal among inshore predators, the Salty Ned Shrimp is akin to our phenomenally successful Finesse TRD™,” Nussbaum says. “A shrimp was the natural first choice for a new saltwater Ned bait because virtually all inshore gamefish eat smaller shrimp, among the most abundant prey foods during much of the year.”
By intent, Z-Man cultivated the segmented crustacean imitation with a subtle, yet convincing shrimp silhouette. Its surprisingly soft construction yields extraordinary underwater movement with unheard of durability—a seemingly impossible combination unique to Z-Man’s 10X Tough ElaZtech® baits.
Any time the angler moves the rodtip, the bait’s papery-thin shrimp tail kicks and undulates in escape mode. Skeletally thin swimmeret legs and antennae crawl and quiver with great ease—often activated by underwater current alone. The bait’s buoyancy and flared out appendages also allow it to land softly and parachute slowly toward bottom—attributes that assure you won’t spook finicky fish. “What’s also cool is you can sight fish for really spooky reds up on clear shallow flats because the bait touches down with such a small, compact signature,” suggests Richardson.
Further to the Salty Ned ShrimpZ’ buoyant ElaZtech composition is the bait’s affinity to self-activate underwater. “That’s more of the magic of the Ned rig applied to saltwater,” notes Richardson. “When you rig it on any of the ShroomZ™, NedlockZ™ or Texas Eye™ Finesse series jigheads, the bait comes right to life.”
Richardson adds that the beauty of the Salty Ned ShrimpZ is its easy compatibility with existing Z-Man jigheads. “One of my favorite tricks is to rig the bait on a Finesse BulletZ™ jighead. This combo is a perfect pairing and creates a super snag-resistant package that looks astonishingly realistic when hopped, dragged or deadsticked. Combined with the buoyancy of the Ned ShrimpZ, the jighead’s nose and belly weight position the bait in a slightly tail-up posture, natural as it gets. It’s the most realistic presentation possible without resorting to live bait.
“Even for a novice or someone accustomed to using shrimp on a jighead, it’s an easy-to-fish bait that also eliminates pinfish and other nuisance biters,” offers Richardson. “Admittedly, you’ll often catch smaller reds, trout and flounder, but you certainly won’t lack action.”
One successful ‘Salty Ned’ presentation is to let the bait sink to bottom, occasionally shaking the rodtip to make the ShrimpZ tail quiver. “Give the jig a 6- to 12-inch pull, pause and then reel slack and repeat. You’re making the body and appendages tremble; when you stop, the bait pivots and goes tail-up. Even when you pause the retrieve, the Salty Ned ShrimpZ never really stops working for you.
“During that coldwater season when we’re up against live bait anglers and super selective fish, you can’t believe how often we’ve come out on top with the Salty Ned ShrimpZ. Big 40-inch snook. Assembly-line numbers of redfish, seatrout and flounder . . . anything that eats shrimp (and who doesn’t?) snarfs up this little Ned bait like it’s a cocktail party.”
Available in August, the new 2.5-inch Z-Man Salty Ned ShrimpZ introduces saltwater anglers to the powerful fish-catching advantages of the Ned rig. Offered in ten proven inshore patterns, such as Laguna Shrimp, Slam Shady and Opening Night. MSRP $4.99 per 6-pack. For more information follow Z-Man on Facebook, TickTok and Instagram, or at www.zmanfishing.com.