Of Barn Doors & Smell-Good Softbaits

“Everyone thinks halibut just sort of sit on the bottom like a doormat, sulking and waiting for a meal to swim along,” remarks Z-Man pro angler Miles “Sonar” Burghoff. “But when you watch ’em on an underwater camera, you quickly discover these eccentric fish are anything but bottom feeders. In fact, they’re one of the coolest predators you’ll ever encounter—and if you want to experience an incredible halibut bite, amp up your approach with multifaceted ElaZtech® baits.”

Recently, during his eighteenth Alaskan fishing expedition—including many years as a fishing guide— the Tennessee based bass ace employed a rapid-fire halibut-catching program that tapped the species’ little-known affinity to hunt the open seas.

“We put an underwater camera down there, and all we saw were halibut cruising around, actively swimming well above the ocean floor,” Burghoff recalled. “Made me realize these fish are much more of a predator than they are a sedentary bottom feeder. We catch ’em all the time while trolling for salmon. I believe they’re sight feeders first, though they certainly rely on scent to find prey, as well. Heck, we’ve had big halibut swim up 100 feet just to strike a trolled lure.

Drifting over deepwater halibut terrain, Burghoff noted that most anglers—including those in his own fishing party—typically deploy cut herring and squid. “But I think it’s way more fun—and efficient—to actively jig with a DoormatadorZ™—a super soft and lively, yet exceptionally durable ElaZtech bait designed specifically for big halibut and flounder,” he believes. “The bait’s big chunky twister tail never stops pulsing, thumping; even a bit of tidal current can activate the bait’s tail, which also helps distribute its potent scent.”

Imbued with concentrated Pro-Cure Flounder Pounder Super Gel, the DoormatadorZ tickles every sense in a halibut’s brain—action, vibration, color and taste. “No doubt that natural and live baits attract plenty of ‘barn door’ sized halibut, but on this trip, given the efficiency and durability of the DoormatadorZ, we easily outfished cutbait at least three to one.”

Rigged with a 3-ounce HeadlockZ HD™ jighead and a 6-inch glow-colored DoormatadorZ, Burghoff quickly dropped the morsel into 170 to 230 feet of crystalline, halibut-rich water. He keyed on the last hour of outgoing tides and the first hour of incoming tides to target the most active predators. “Drop the bait down and let it hit bottom on a freefall,” Burghoff instructs. “Halibut are really curious fish, and I think the sound the heavy HeadlockZ jig makes as it collides with bottom helps attract fish to your lure.”

From there, Burghoff performs a series of subtle jigging motions, bouncing the lure up and down to activate the soft curly tail. Gradually, he cranks the lure up in the water column, several feet at a time, to hover it seductively in front of active, suspended fish.

“It’s incredible how much more aggressively they bite glow-colored baits,” he observes. “In just a few hours one day, I caught eleven halibut on the same bait. Those glow patterns prove just how much halibut feed by sight. Pink Glow is great. But Nuked Chicken Glow is another fantastic pattern that I also think closely imitates the crustaceans they eat.”

Speaking of sustenance, Burghoff typically harvests just a few smaller fish for dinner, releasing most of his bigger halibut. “Those smaller 20 and 30 pounders are perfect for my favorite recipe: Macadamia nut-encrusted halibut fillets done up nice and crispy in the air fryer. Awesome.”

Which also describes the surprising durability of such a soft bait. “Fish can munch ’em all they want. What really sets these ElaZtech baits apart from other soft plastics—and it’s a big, big deal when you’re repeatedly dropping the lure into hundreds of feet of water—is the durability factor. You’ve got so many little rockfish and other tail-biters down there; halibut themselves have some pretty serious teeth, too. But you never have to worry that something’s chomped the tail off, nor do you need to constantly reel back up to check, because ElaZtech is just stupid tough.

“I ended my eighteenth Alaska trip the same DoormatadorZ, at least fifteen halibut to its credit— and still counting when we come back next year. Try that with any other soft plastic bait and see what happens.”

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.