Ladson, SC – – Call it the bling effect—an angler’s inclination to select a lure based on eye candy alone. Bright, sparkly and visually stunning baits attract us like diamonds and gold, enticing us to tie them on and cast, despite the fact fish perceive colors and flash far differently than we see them above the surface.
And yet, we know from long experience that certain hues and color combinations induce strong predatory responses from fish—independent of our preconceptions. “When I’m home-brewing a new bait color, first thing I do is consider the underwater environment in terms of ambient light, water color and the surrounding terrain,” divulges Captain C.A. Richardson, masterful saltwater flats angler and host of Flats Class TV. “Equally important is the angle at which fish see and approach forage—above, below or direct line of sight.
Applying parallel logic and fresh ink to an array of ElaZtech softbaits, Richardson has once again collaborated with Z-Man Fishing to fashion three powerful new inshore saltwater colors.
Proving to be the “new blue” of the inshore world, recent electro-purple patterns such as Z-Man’s Dark N Stormy and Purple Death have become elite fish-catching configurations. Featuring a more refined shade of violet for clearwater scenarios, Z-Man’s new Troutcicle pattern, says Richardson, offers a sneaky facsimile of a baby speckled trout. “In the old days, anglers knew that young trout were so appealing to snook, redfish and tarpon that some of them secretly (and illegally) used them for livebait,” reveals Richardson.
“Troutcicle is the best approximation of a baby trout I’ve seen yet. It’s got that iridescent violet back that switches to white-pearl side flanks and underbelly. Incidentally, the color also offers a killer imitation of mudminnows that inhabit tidal creeks—another key multispecies forage.
“Underwater, a paddletail like the sweet little 3-inch MinnowZ™ shows off that contrasting dark-to-light strobe effect that’s a classic fish attractor. When the bait tag wags and rolls subtly, fish see alternating flashes of dark purple to pearl, with little black speckles signaling fingerling trout. “We’re really discovering that while blue fades away fast underwater, purple maintains a visible, dark hue that attracts fish. It’s especially hot when you combine it with a light underside, creating a powerful two-tone delineation—dark-light, dark-light. Nothing’s more natural.”
Richardson says the Troutcicle pattern has recently been a potent fish-catcher. “I’ve been throwing it a lot on those cool, bluebird days when algae’s been shocked out of the water. It’s why we went with subtle black flake, rather than metallic glitter, which is a no-no in these conditions. Trout love it, but so do redfish and snook—and we already mentioned the tarpon connection. Right now, I’m digging my Troutcicle baits, bigtime.”
Lighting up the water like a full moon in a clear sky, Richardson calls Gitter Done—Z-Man’s second new ElaZtech hue— the ultimate sight fishing pattern. “It’s one of those patterns I found by digging into my old school tackle boxes. Noticed a lot of my classic hardbaits in this color were totally torn up, full of battle scars and tooth gashes. Knew if Z-Man made this color in ElaZtech baits like the DieZel MinnowZ™—a classic paddletail itself—we’d put a ton of fish in anglers’ boats.”
Patterned after live mullet, which Richardson says sparkle in water and make easy strike targets, Gitter Done features a dazzling green back sprinkled with dark green flake. Imbued with a healthy dose of metallic gold string glitter, a clear underbelly glistens like new-found treasure.
“You can see baits like a Gitter Done DieZel MinnowZ from a long way off. Swim it through a school of pilchards and it really stands out. Might be a little too flashy for those bright days in super clear water. But with a little color in the water or a bit of overcast, Gitter Done is a superior sight fishing bait— awesome in places like Florida’s Emerald Coast. A 4-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ™ in this color looks just like a dying mullet on the grass flats—killer for redfish and snook; the 5-incher Jerk ShadZ™ produces big trout this time of year, too.”
Speaking glowingly of Tater Salad, Z-Man’s third fresh ElaZtech pattern, Richardson remarks, “There’s a reason albino animals don’t survive for long in nature. In this case, Tater Salad just refers to something everyone likes to eat. Add a healthy coat of glow and metallic green freckles to a white body, finish it with a lurid lime-treuse tail and you’ve got an exceptional bait color for low light and turbid, muddy water.
“Tater Salad pattern baits have been really attractive to fish on those prefrontal days,” Richardson continues. “Love this color in the Swimmin’ Trout Trick® or 3-inch MinnowZ on those squally weather days with lots of clouds. It’s a go-to for trout in creeks and smaller rivers. Really, everything bites it because everything sees it in darker water or over dark-colored bottoms, such as oyster beds and grass.
“Sometimes you chose a certain bait color to blend into the bottom or the aquatic surroundings. But a lot of days, you want to do the opposite, to make it easy for big seatrout and snook—which are sight predators—to find and attack your bait.”
Dressing four of Z-Man’s elite ElaZtech baits, Troutcicle is now available in the 3” MinnowZ, 4” DieZel MinnowZ, 5” Trout Trick® and 3.5” Swimmin’ Trout Trick. Radiant sight-fishing sensation Gitter Done graces five Z-Man baits such as the 4” and 5” Scented Jerk ShadZ and 4” Scented PaddlerZ™. Tater Salad lends its glowing personality to the 3” MinnowZ, Trout Trick and Swimmin’ Trout Trick. 2020’s standout color, Beer Run is also now offered in several more popular ElaZtech profiles—all available at retailers nationwide or at zmanfishing.com.