LADSON, SC – The statement “ElaZtech® baits let you do cool and crazy things that aren’t possible with other soft plastics” implies some pretty intriguing fish-catching potential. True enough on the surface. But unite one of the new-generation softbaits with an equally evolved jighead and underwater action goes right to the sweet spot.
Two years ago, Z-Man collaborated with the jig maestros at Eye Strike Fishing to construct an ElaZtech-activating jighead—visually stunning, energetic and as simple to rig and fish as it gets. Spawned from the original Texas Eye™ Jig, the new Texas Eye Finesse and the Texas Eye TeXL jigheads play directly to the strengths of downsized and extra-large softbaits, respectively. The two new technical jig designs present visual eye candy and upgraded swimming action to any bait you choose.
Optical engineer and Eye Strike Fishing co-owner Dave Fladd puts it this way, “The design goal of the Texas Eye was to build a fresh- and saltwater jig that married the snag immunity of a Texas rig with the frenetic bait movements of a free-swinging jighead. The new Texas Eye Finesse jig melds seamlessly with Ned-style and other finesse baits, while the TeXL jighead activates mongo swimbaits or other 5-inch-plus soft plastics.”
Pioneering saltwater guide and Eye Strike Fishing co-owner Captain Ralph Phillips speaks to the ever-important eye factor. “Over decades of successful fishing, the most productive lures, by far, proved to be those sporting bright, prominent eyes,” observes Phillips. “No other strike target can match the eyes in terms of provoking a predatory response. It’s why large, vibrant, lifelike eyeballs dominate all our Texas Eye Jigheads, including our two new finesse and XL sized tools. It’s also why strikes on these jigheads rarely come up short.”
Texas Eye Finesse Jighead
Last November, the first day Fladd ever fished the new downsized Texas Eye Finesse jig, the Charleston, South Carolina lure-craftsman boated what he terms a Margarita Slam. “Redfish, speckled trout, flounder, striper and largemouth bass all bit the same jig—a Texas Eye Finesse Jighead rigged up with a 3-inch Z-Man Slim SwimZ™,” recalls Fladd. “Slow reel the bait with small twitches of the rodtip to make the jig articulate and activate the bait’s tail. Stop it, and the hook pivots as the bait floats up. Awesome visual trigger. Very next day, I went out with the same exact bait tied on and caught a 25-inch trout. Pretty rare deal. Just proves the versatility of this cool little jig.”
Fladd further notes that he and other anglers have rigged the Texas Eye Finesse jig with a TRD CrawZ™, Finesse TRD™ and other Ned rig baits for bass. “We’ve even talked to anglers who are fishing the jig with panfish-sized baits for crappies holding in brush and grass cover without getting hung up,” he explains. “And tournament angler and inshore guide Michael Cowart helped us test these jigs this spring and has been cleaning up on Gulf Coast redfish.”
Breathing life into any downsized ElaZtech softbait, the Texas Eye Finesse Jighead hinges on its precision, swinging hook-to-jighead construction. Built with a lightwire 1/0 VMC wide gap hook, the lively pivoting jig eases weedless rigging while maximizing bait action. A molded bait keeper locks ElaZtech and other baits snuggly to the hook. Vivid, oversized 3D eyes in various colors present a prominent strike target for all gamefish.
“I’ve been a fan of throwing finesse baits for big reds for a while, but the Texas Eye Finesse jig really accentuates the action of baits like the StreakZ™ 3.75 and TRD CrawZ,” notes Cowart, who wielded the jig to grab a 1st place win at a recent redfish tourney at Panama City. “Put the StreakZ on this jig and just rip and fast twitch it. Thing goes totally erratic. Darts with a freakish, mini baitfish action and produces reaction bites when other approaches fall short. It’s my go-to redfish combo in summer. And you get a lot of nice trout on this little morsel, too.”
When redfish get finicky and funky, notes Cowart, a TRD CrawZ and Texas Eye Finesse jig is as good as it gets. “Something about putting these two together that really imitates little crabs scooting over the bottom, raising their claws in defense,” believes Cowart. “Work the jig with a slower dragging retrieve. Stop to deadstick it, and the swinging hook allows the bait’s buoyant claws to float right up. Add a bit of Pro-Cure and it’s almost like fishing livebait.”
Texas Eye TeXL Jighead
At the opposite end of the bait-size spectrum, the Texas Eye TeXL Jighead utilizes the same swinging hook framework, yielding accentuated bait action and quick, easy weedless rigging. The TeXL Jighead’s heavy duty 5/0 VMC wide gap hook arms itself with a molded bait keeper, matching larger ElaZtech baits like the 5- and 7-inch DieZel MinnowZ and Jerk ShadZ, 5” Scented PaddlerZ and 6-inch SwimmerZ. King-sized 3D eyes highlight the jighead for a glaring strike target.
“We had a ton of interest from anglers fishing everything from snook and stripers to big bass, asking for a beefed up version of the original Texas Eye,” notes Fladd.
“The new TeXL has been well received by saltwater and freshwater anglers alike. One of our bass pros rigs it with big swimbaits and says the articulating head gives bass less leverage when they jump and try to dislodge the hook. Captain Michael Cowart rigs it with a big StreakZ for bull redfish. We’ve even caught sizeable sea bass on this jig with a plain hook. The jig’s supersized eyes proved enough incentive to bite it without even adding a tail. Pretty big statement.”
Available in October, the new Z-Man Texas Eye Finesse and Texas Eye TeXL jigheads let their luminous 3D eyes do the talking, offered in iridescent gold, red and pearl patterns. The Texas Eye Finesse Jighead includes 1/15-, 1/10-, 1/8- and 1/6-ounce sizes; the TeXL Jighead features 3/8- and ½-ounce sizes. For more information, visit www.zmanfishing.com.