Top 5 Soft Baits for Mega Striped Bass

Ladson, SC – Ravenous, angry and brimming with pent-up energy, pitbull striped bass make a habit of pulverizing most soft plastic baitfish imitations to pieces. Throw saw-jawed bluefish into the mix and piles of dismembered, destroyed softbaits start stacking up in all corners of the boat. That is, unless the bait dangling from your rodtip happens to be composed of a certain ‘super plastic.’

As saltwater anglers up and down the East coast continue to discover, Z-Man’s ElaZtech baits conceal some surprising tricks up their sleeves. For striper specialists, those tricks lead to hookups and high-fives. “I started fishing Z-Man ElaZtech baits for striped bass several years ago during a TV shoot in Boston Harbor,” says On The Water magazine editor and expert striper angler, Kevin Blinkoff.

“We were on some big stripers and bluefish, which had penned up a massive school of pogies (aka bunker). But the fish were laser-focused on live baits and tough to fool. One lure that was lively enough to pull their attention away from the real thing was a 10-inch HeroZ. Not only was the action of the lure fantastic, but the way it withstood repeated striper strikes and the occasional bluefish mauling made me a believer in this unique bait formula.

“How was it possible that a soft-plastic bait could stand up to the same bluefish that were chopping live menhaden in half with one razor-toothed bite?” Blinkoff pondered. The answer resided within the bait’s unique combination of properties: ten-times more durable than traditional soft plastics; exceptionally soft and able to swim like a living thing; buoyant enough to make the bait hover in a natural baitfish posture; completely non-toxic within the aquatic environment—and designed and made in the USA.

Leading up to the fall striper migration, Blinkoff recently ran through his top five soft plastics, each offering distinct advantages during essential fishing situations.

Top-to-bottom: 10″ HeroZ with 8/0 HeadlockZ HD jighead8″ Mag SwimZ with 10/0 ChinlockZ hook5″ HerculeZ, 6″ DarterZ with 4/0 ChinlockZ hook, 4″ DieZel MinnowZ with Texas Eye Jighead.

#5 – DarterZ™ – Flashing its refined baitfish and sand eel silhouette, the segmented, slashing DarterZ excels in finesse striper situations, such as inshore flats, backwaters or anywhere you need to cast and present the bait quietly without spooking fish.

The bait’s thin profile and hydrodynamic head slim down toward the tail, meeting two fine swim-segments that articulate as water plays across the DarterZ’ rear flank. The tail itself is horizontally oriented—like a dolphin, rather than a fish—to slow the bait’s rate of fall while adding extra glide between rod shakes. The bait’s buoyant ElaZtech construction enhances its tendency to soar or slowly sink, depending on the added weight of a jig or hook. Retrieve the apply-named DarterZ with short, quick rodtip twitches or more aggressive rips, depending on fish attitude and activity level.

High on stealth and seductive swimming moves, the 6-inch DarterZ shines when rigged on a 4/0 ChinlockZ™ SWS hook. It’s a sleeper sand eel imitation, too.

#4 – 4″ DieZel MinnowZ™ – A go-to swimbait for schoolie sized stripers, the classic DieZel MinnowZ offers a bite-sized morsel that resembles and swims like so many of the slender, flat-sided baitfish eaten by stripers. When the spring schoolie run is underway, anglers often catch 30 or more stripers on a single bait, right off the beach. Rigged on a lightweight jighead or a free-swinging Texas Eye Jighead™, the DieZel MinnowZ moves with accentuated action and tail kick.

#3 – HerculeZ™ Pre-rigged Swimbait – Highly detailed baitfish sculpting and a smartly designed curved paddletail give the HerculeZ Swimbait a naturalistic appearance and vibrant, rhythmic swimming action. Molded around 3/8-ounce (4″) or 5/8-ounce (5″) zinc weights, the HerculeZ Swimbait casts toward the horizon and sinks at an optimal rate for a variety of presentations.

Particularly when fishing around bluefish and other lure-destroying species, the HerculeZ’
ElaZtech composition assures tear-resistant longevity and the softness to move like a live baitfish. This exceptional pre-rigged swimbait offers the best of all worlds. Consider the lure’s malleable baitfish texture and action bolstered by the assurance of hardbait-like durability and you quickly comprehend the HerculeZ’ popularity.

#2 – 8″ Mag SwimZ™ – Blinkoff’s secret search-bait for pinpointing roving striped bass across vast aquatic expanses, the 8-inch Mag SwimZ couples beautifully with a 10/0 weighted ChinlockZ hook. Armed with an active paddletail and lengthy, muscular torso, the full-figured baitfish pings lateral lines with vibrant underwater signals. The weighted hook is offset by the Mag SwimZ’ buoyant ElaZtech body, enabling it to work as a surface or near-surface swimbait— tail wagging and attracting stripers straight to its vulnerable V-wake.

Even razor-toothed bluefish can’t slice ‘n dice a resilient ElaZtech bait.

#1 – 10″ HeroZ™ – The ultimate striper bait when big, sight-feeding bulls are locked onto live menhaden, pogies or other near-surface baitfish. The 10-inch HeroZ offers stripers a substantial morsel of food, empowering anglers with its tapered, easy-to-activate baitfish body and thin, forked kicker tail. Rigged on an 8/0 HeadlockZ HD jighead, the HeroZ can be aggressively ripped, jigged or swum on a straight retrieve. Or, on a 10/0 ChinlockZ weighted hook, the buoyant HeroZ can be slowly twitched, walked or made to hover and slowly “die,” enticing even selective, heavyweight bass to bite.

While very few artificial lures grab the attention of livebait-focused predators, the natural-acting HeroZ may be the exception. “This lure has such a natural baitfish action,” notes Blinkoff. “It’s the lure I have tied on anytime I’m out searching for big stripers. The HeroZ is an ultimate big dog striper bait.”

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.