LADSON, SC – Like Mikey and his cereal, or the other Mike and his basketball, Bassmaster Elite Series pro David Walker knows jigs. Colleagues and qualified observers call Walker a master at his craft—one of the most potent anglers out there when armed with that all-time great bass lure. So when Z-Man Fishing tapped Walker to design the perfect line of jigs to his own exacting specs, the task immediately turned into a labor of love.
“The opportunity to craft two new jigs for Z-Man—the CrossEyeZ™ Snakehead Swim Jig and Football Jig—has been a dream scenario,” says the likeable, Tennessee based angler. “These jigs are perfectly tuned and tweaked so they’re ready to catch a bass on cast number one.”
Walker, who’s meticulous about jig minutiae (down to exact numbers of silicone strands) says the foremost element in swim jig performance is snag immunity. “We’ve been really persnickety about eliminating all the sharp edges and angles that might otherwise gather grass. It starts with the jighead itself. In nature, a snake is the most adept animal at slithering cleanly and silently through dense forests of cover. You’ll notice the resemblance in the CrossEyeZ Snakehead Swim Jig. The jighead’s shape is animal-like, not geometric.”
Rather than rely on the conical contours of other swim jig designs, Walker and Z-Man implemented a flat underside. “What this accomplishes is smoother horizontal movement through the water,” Walker observes. “The jighead doesn’t resist what you’re doing, it responds to it—whether via retrieve speed or rodtip moves. The flat chin also helps the jig plane up on the retrieve, so you can use heavier weights for longer casts.”
“I can’t think of a single bait that works as efficiently through heavy cover on horizontal and vertical planes than this new swim jig,” adds Walker. “It’s a really efficient, user-friendly design.”
Several other strategic perks further the efficacy of the Snakehead Swim Jig: A pre-trimmed weedguard uses softer fibers than the norm, hand selected by Walker, and positioned at a steep angle for cleaner movement through cover. A specialized split-grip, ribbed keeper is molded to the base of the jighead. Walker says it locks his favorite Z-Man ElaZtech trailers, such as the Turbo CrawZ tight to the jig, and melds equally well with traditional soft plastics. “This integrated keeper design also adds weight to the rear of the jig, balancing it out on the retrieve for a more natural, horizontal posture.”
Moving from shallower cover to relatively deep environs, the Walker / Z-Man collaboration resulted next in the CrossEyeZ Football Jig—the fourth jig in the popular series (previous models include CrossEyeZ Flipping Jig & Power Finesse Jig). “We made the Football Jig to work in constant contact with bottom,” notes Walker. “The key is when you make a long cast and slowly reel it along the substrate—similar to the way you work a Carolina Rig—the Football Jig stops momentarily when it touches small rocks or objects. That stop and pull-back from the angler results in a pivoting motion of the jig, which really activates trailers, such as the Turbo CrawZ or BatwingZ.”
Walker calls out a couple of the Football Jig’s choice touches: “We used a longer shank, light wire 5/0 VMC® black nickel hook. The longer hook acts similar to a trailer hook; stings more bass on hooksets, especially at long range. The weedguard is unique, too. We insisted on a single Y-guard because it effectively deflects snags but also moves out of the way when fish bite.”
Standard equipment on both CrossEyeZ jigs, exclusive Z-Man silicone skirts feature strand colors and quantities painstakingly chosen by Walker himself. “I used to spend a lot of time tying my own skirts to match the hatch. Z-Man now gives us a potent lineup of color patterns—and they’re all affixed to the jighead with copper wire, rather than one of those flimsy rubber bands. This maximizes skirt flare and makes it last and last—you rarely, if ever, have to replace it.”
Debuting at the 2018 ICAST show, the Z-Man CrossEyeZ Swim Jig (MSRP $4.99) and Football Jig (MSRP $4.99) sport characteristic bulging “crossed eyes.” The Swim Jig is offered in ¼- and 3/8-ounce sizes, while the Football Jig comes in ½- and ¾-ounces, both available in eight select color phases—arriving at tackle stores in mid-October. Visit www.zmanfishing.com for more information.