Ladson, SC – Where guides fish on their days off creates a pretty tempting trail of breadcrumbs. A similar perception often applies to fishing tackle makers and their after-hours aquatic venues of choice. Want to know where the fish are biting? Tailpipe the trucks and boats of a true fish head straight to the ramp. Want to find out where the heart of a lure maker lies? Come to ICAST.
“Even though we build over a hundred lures for freshwater fishing, most of us are saltwater junkies at heart,” admits Shane Clevenger, Creative Director for the coastal Charleston, South Carolina company.
“We’re surrounded by freshwater bass meccas like Santee-Cooper, Hartwell and Murray—and we spend plenty of time on those lakes,” adds Clevenger. “But given the freedom to cast anywhere, many of us launch along the Intracoastal Waterway and sling ElaZtech baits for redfish or seatrout. Even if we’re just testing or fine tuning a new Z-Man lure, having so many saltwater opportunities near the office provides a constant temptation. It’s all strictly in the name of research, of course.”
Not that Z-Man expected to win two New Product Showcase awards at the 2022 ICAST show. “But admittedly, we put a lot of heart and soul into our saltwater creations,” said Clevenger. “I guess you could say the ICAST wins validate all the passion and fishing time we put into our baits. Most days, we’re just out to catch fish with stuff that works, like every other angler on the water.”
Proving Clevenger’s point that Z-Man’s tackle architects carry street cred with the fishing media and tackle buyers—as well as everyday anglers— the company recently won ICAST awards for Best Saltwater Lure and Best Terminal Tackle. For the first time in company history, Z-Man earned Best of Show trophies for new products in two separate categories—both geared toward, though not necessarily exclusive to, saltwater.
Z-Man Kicker CrabZ™ (Best of Show – Saltwater Soft Lure) – The creation of Z-Man president and avid saltwater angler, Daniel Nussbaum, the Kicker CrabZ is perhaps the first soft crab bait that accurately mirrors the sideways-swimming antics of a live, snackable crustacean. Amid an abundance of crab lures with super-realistic physical features, the 3.5″ Kicker CrabZ goes beyond the shell, giving anglers an active crab swimbait. Unlike most crab lures made to soak stationary on the bottom, the new Kicker CrabZ can be cast and actively retrieved or jigged and dragged along the bottom— single paddletail claw waving behind the crab’s body in that familiar, true-to-life motion.
“We’ve been playing with the idea of a side-swimming crab lure for the past five years,” noted Nussbaum. “To finally bring this product to life and witness its efficiency and appeal in inshore applications has been tremendously satisfying.”
During extensive test-fishing, Nussbaum said the Kicker CrabZ accounted for seven different species, including largemouth bass. “Suffice to say, we’re especially excited to hear from our customers and learn all about its other applications as the lure comes to market,” he added. “Honestly, winning the Best Saltwater Soft Lure award is just icing on the cake.”
Z-Man DieZel Eye™ Jighead (Best of Show – Terminal Tackle) – Another elite collaborative effort between good friends at Z-Man and Eye Strike Fishing™, the DieZel Eye Jighead brings out the best in bigger 5+ inch ElaZtech® soft plastics, a glove-like match for the popular DieZel MinnowZ™ swimbait. Leading with colorful, predator-taunting eyeballs, the DieZel Eye jighead features a sticky-sharp 6/0 or 8/0 black nickel hook in 3/8- to 3-ounce sizes.
Exceptional among big-bait jigheads, each DieZel Eye arms itself with a cutting-edge Tri-Forge Power Hook. Forged on three sides, the specialized hook is significantly stronger than traditional two-sided hooks. The refined forging process also allows for use of a thinner gauge wire than the hooks on standard big bait jigheads, yielding superior hookpoint penetration.
“We’re honored to win this award for another cooperative project between Eye Strike and our friends at Z-Man,” said Dave Fladd, co-owner of Eye Strike Fishing. “Beginning with our proven concept that predators strike the eye, the DieZel Eye Jigheads give anglers a bulletproof tool for rigging and presenting bigger ElaZtech baits, including 5- and 7-inch DieZel MinnowZ.
“Receiving recognition from the fishing industry really validates the power of combining the brainpower and fishing expertise of two great companies,” adds Fladd. “ElaZtech baits and Eye Strike Jigs together are definitely greater than the sum of their parts.”
In response to strong angler demand, Z-Man plans to ship the Kicker CrabZ, DieZel Eye Jighead and all other New-for-2022 Products to outdoor retailers by August/September—ample time to tap fall bites nationwide.
About Z-Man Fishing Products
A dynamic Charleston, South Carolina based company, Z-Man Fishing Products has melded leading edge fishing tackle with technology for nearly three decades. Z-Man has long been among 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 innovators of 10X Tough ElaZtech softbaits, fast becoming the most coveted baits in fresh- and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest-growing lure brands worldwide.