Ladson, SC – Underwater, the magic of a shakyhead worm actually happens at the opposite end of the bait. Angler shakes rod. Line sends pulses down to the jighead. In theory, the worm’s tail dances, quivers and attracts interest from bass. But if it’s made from traditional PVC plastics, the bait eventually sinks back to the bottom and . . . (pardon the pun) imitates worm food; stops moving; dies on the vine. You get the picture, and so do the bass.
If the allure of shakyhead fishing truly lies in the tail (see underwater footage), shouldn’t we all be fishing a worm whose posterior end wags, quivers, and hovers like something alive?
Watching the way his favorite ElaZtech® softbaits undulated and elevated off the bottom—almost as if they moved with a mind of their own—Z-Man pro Brian “B. Lat” Latimer knew the fishing world needed a shakyhead worm composed of this buoyant, remarkably soft, and impossibly durable material.
Many months later, Latimer returned to the water armed with packs of his newly-minted SMH WormZ & SMH Jighead—a simple yet carefully crafted shakyhead system driven by ‘that magic material’ known as ElaZtech. Captivated by the bait’s natural flowing motions, even B. Lat—a veteran of countless bass battles—”couldn’t stop shaking my head.”
“ElaZtech changes everything for the better,” suggests Latimer, a MLF Pro Circuit competitor and YouTube star. “You can take almost any soft plastic shape, make it out of Z-Man’s amazing, extra-terrestrial material, and immediately, the bait comes to life in all kinds of cool ways.”
Sleek, simple and unceasingly active, the SMH WormZ mirrors what B. Lat calls that classic Coke-bottle shape: “We sculpted this special shakyhead worm for subtle yet unstoppable underwater movement,” he notes. “Starts with a substantial but slender head and torso, ideally shaped for easy hook penetration. Gradually, it slims down to a wispy-thin midsection that helps activate the worm’s bulbous, football shaped tail— kicking and undulating continuously as the angler shakes the line.” When you stop shaking, says B. Lat, the tail levitates, hovers and exposes itself to the slightest underwater currents.
At 6.5-inches in length, the ultra-lively SMH WormZ presents bass with a natural, unassuming target, deadly seductive on its namesake jighead. Imbued with a 15-percent salt solution, the SMH WormZ offers optimal casting weight, and enhanced taste and texture to assure bass bite and hold on tight.
“When you first fish this worm, it’s mind-blowing how something this soft and energetic could also be durable and resilient enough to last 3, 5, 10 or even more bass per bait. Doesn’t make sense, right? And then, that you can rig and re-rig that same worm so many times without tearing its head. Or that the tail won’t get nipped off by small, nuisance fish . . . man, that’s such a big deal,” says Latimer.
Made to match the SMH WormZ and accentuate tail motion, the SMH Jighead was built to B. Lat’s exacting specs: specific angles and head shape to precise hook ingredients. “Going in, I felt like anglers had a lot of shakyhead jigs to choose from, but very few really good ones,” he observes.
“One thing anglers don’t often think about is how the jighead’s shape and taper can either hinder or help their hookset ratio,” notes B. Lat. “You don’t want a blunt-faced jighead, which can’t easily push through a bass’ jaw or allow for hook penetration—especially with light line. So, we etched the SMH head with a slender oval shape that tapers and angles down to a point at the eyelet—to assure it pops out of the mouth and through the jaw, where the lightwire hook can easily stab.”
To aid its ability to slide cleanly through grass and brush, the jighead features a pointed nose and angled eyelet. The hook-eye itself is slightly recessed for extra line protection. The jig’s smooth oval surface eases its skip-ability under boat docks, laydowns and other overhanging cover. B. Lat also focused on the SMH Jighead’s ability to pivot smoothly on bottom and walk over rocks or other obstructions without issue.
For stealth and effortless hooksets with 6- to 15-pound line, the custom, round bend needlepoint 4/0 black nickel hook proved ideal. Its medium-lightwire construction fits the finesseful nature of the worm without overpowering it. B. Lat further insisted on a specially made welded wire keeper, subtle as a hangnail and extra easy to rig. He believes this keeper configuration excels at holding ElaZtech baits tightly to the hook-shank for the duration.
Rigging & Fishing
“The SMH Worm material is so resilient that you can rig it by just barely skin hooking it once through the head. Slide it up the jig shank and lock it into place over the keeper. (The worm’s crown is flat to marry up tightly to the base of the jighead.) Rotate the worm and pierce the hookpoint back through the soft ElaZtech material. Do it totally weedless or Tex-posed, depending on cover conditions.
“People ask me why we didn’t use a screw-lock style head. That’s an easy one: Screw locks prevent successful hooksets by closing the gap. You want maximum gap between hookpoint and jighead so there’s ample bite left to penetrate a bass’ jaw. The SMH Jighead looks clean, sharp and simple. And it is. But it was also designed with a lot of TLC and constructive thinking. Everyone benefits with more bass in the boat, and less time spent replacing worn out baits. Imagine hitting the water with just one pack of baits instead of 20.”
Easily among the most versatile of all bass baits, the SMH WormZ, believes B. Lat, shines almost any time of the year. “I catch a ton of fish with this bait in spring, prespawn and postspawn,” he says. “I’ve flipped it Texas-rigged in the Potomac River. Neko and wacky rigged it in clear water reservoirs. Put it on a dropshot and worked those Tennessee River ledges. Or Carolina rig it. Heck, cut it down to size and fish it like a Ned rig.
“Any way you rig it, I bet you can’t keep its tail from kicking, rising up and pulsing in the water,” challenges Latimer. “That’s the power of ElaZtech . . . the SMH system almost fishes itself!”
Available now, the Z-Man SMH WormZ and SMH Jighead will debut freshly packaged baits at the 2022 Bassmaster Classic Expo (March 4-6, Greenville, SC). The 6.5” SMH Worm features ten potent color patterns – MSRP $5.99 per 7-pack. The SMH Jighead includes 1/8-, 3/16- and ¼-ounce sizes in black or green pumpkin – MSRP $5.99 per 3-pack. For more information, visit www.zmanfishing.com.