Z-Man Nets Three Rising Bass Fishing Stars

Ladson, SC – Since its humble beginnings, Z-Man Fishing has embraced the belief that angling talent of every stripe—young or old, conventional or nonconformist— merely enriches the passion and the pursuit. Everyone has a voice; each angler brings an invigorating viewpoint to the sport where age, background and style know no bounds.

Reinforcing its all-star roster of exceptional anglers (and plain ol’ good people), the South Carolina based lure-makers recently landed three ascending pros, already well on their way toward living the dream.

Briana Tucker

Hometown: Trinity, Alabama

Favorite Lures/Baits: Finesse TRD™Big TRD™ChatterBait® JackHammer™

Go-To Technique: Power fishing with a ChatterBait®

Following a thrilling, successful run in competitive high school and collegiate bass fishing, new Z-Man pro Briana Tucker set two lofty goals: to be the first female angler to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series and to eventually win a Bassmaster Classic. Well on her way, Tucker continues fishing at a high level in the Major League Fishing Toyota Series and Bassmaster Opens, plus numerous regional derbies near her hometown of Trinity, Alabama.

Beyond tournaments, Tucker loves getting kids excited about fishing, captaining local high school fishing teams and working as a licensed captain and guide on Tennessee River reservoirs.

“My grandpa got me involved in fishing from an early age,” notes Tucker. “He was my boat captain in high school bass tourneys and really instilled in me a passion for being on the water. When I’m guiding today, I get to take a lot of mothers, fathers and children fishing. What’s so cool about that—even for a guide or tournament angler—is that you can learn something new from anyone of any skill level or age, just as they’re learning from you.

“Taking kids fishing helps remind me to slow down, to fish a little slower than I normally would. At times, barely reeling a ChatterBait or a worm can make all the difference.

“Typically, I’m inclined to go 90 miles an hour, punching heavy cover with a Hella CrawZ™ or cruising along with a ChatterBait. This year, though, I’ll be striving to perfect my finesse presentations. On my home waters of Pickwick Lake, those TRD Ned rig baits catch bunches of big smallmouth bass.”

Tucker adds: “Even before I joined the team, Z-Man was already making some of my favorite lures. So, for me, this is an awesome situation at a perfect time in my career. I’m fired up!”

Jamie Bruce

Hometown: Kenora, Ontario, Canada

Favorite Lures/Baits: Hula StickZ™Trick ShotZ™ChatterBait® JackHammer™ChatterBait® WillowVibe™Scented Jerk ShadZ™

Go-To Technique: Offshore power fishing—football head jig with Hula StickZ on deep structure

Favorite (non-bass fishing) Activity: Ice fishing for lake trout, walleyes and crappies

Longtime Z-Man fan and friend of the staff, Ontario’s Jamie Bruce has already established solid street cred as one of Canada’s more innovative, tournament winning anglers. Introduced to fishing by his mother “almost before I can remember,” Bruce’s gateway species was the enigmatic walleye. “In my late teens I started fishing tournaments—walleye first and then bass,” notes Bruce, now 33. “I just loved it so much, and when I started winning a few, it was game over for me.”

At age 25, Bruce won the “super bowl of Canadian bass events,” the Kenora Bass International (KBI) on Lake of the Woods. Noteworthy was Bruce’s impressive limit of largemouth bass, something of an anomaly on Lake of the Woods’ world-class smallmouth bass fishery at the time. “Growing up, the KBI was the ultimate goal. Still one of the most competitive bass tournaments anywhere, attracting great anglers from all over North America.”

When asked about influential anglers in his fishing career, Bruce is quick to call out Canadian luminary Bob Izumi and his good friend and fellow Z-Man pro, Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson. “Having a guy like Gussy in our community of anglers has been huge,” notes Bruce. “He’s always been willing to share fishing tips and info—probably more than he should have, at times. Having Gussy around to establish the bar and measure yourself against has been really important for Canadian anglers, especially as more of us begin venturing out into tournaments in Florida, Texas and beyond.”

Last year, Bruce fished his first Bassmaster Open events, finishing 19th at Hartwell and 3rd at Cherokee Lake, Tennessee—lakes he’d never seen before. At Cherokee, Bruce caught his bass on deep structure, “hanging a minnow” (aka moping)— an increasingly popular method popularized in Canada. Bruce and Gustafson both extol the use of a 3/8-ounce jig and 4- or 5-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ™. (Gustafson won the 2021 Bassmaster Elite at the Tennessee River with this very bait and technique.)

Shortly, Bruce will embark on a busy tournament season, with plans to fish all nine Bassmaster Opens. “Can’t wait to get back to Hartwell again. Last time, I raced 26 hours to get down there, had one hour of daylight left and caught a quick limit before the tournament stuff started the next day. Lots of big waters like Hartwell and Chickamauga hold major offshore goldmine potential. Gonna be a fun year with an awesome arsenal of Z-Man baits on board.”

Jonathan Dietz

Hometown: Corry, Pennsylvania

Favorite Lures/Baits: ChatterBait® MiniMax™Hula StickZ™, Palmetto BugZ™

Memorable Fish: A 6-1/4-pound largemouth caught on a JackHammer in an early BFL tourney at Chesapeake Bay

Ten years before new Z-Man pro Jonathan Dietz qualified for his first Bassmaster Classic, the Pennsylvania native won a gold medal that exhibited an entirely different fishing skillset. At age 16, Dietz and fellow Team USA anglers won gold at the FIPS-Mouche World Youth Fly Fishing Championships—a singular distinction that soon translated to success in collegiate competitive bass fishing and beyond. In recent years, he’s performed exceptionally well in Bass Nation, Bass Open and the MLF events, where he’s logged numerous top-10 finishes. Dietz qualified for the 2023 Bassmaster Classic via strong performances in 2022 BASS Nation events.

Born and raised near the shores of Lake Erie—and with a farm pond in his backyard—Dietz can’t recall a time he didn’t fish. “I remember making twenty bucks at a club tourney in college, thinking this was the coolest thing on earth,” recalls Dietz, who has amassed a legit following via always-active YouTube and TikTok channels.

An upbeat, high-energy angler with the skills to match, Dietz was a fan of Z-Man baits years before signing on the dotted line. “I’m such a believer in Z-Man stuff that I’ve got an entire wall of their blue packs in my garage,” he admits. “While I absolutely love slinging jerkbaits for big Lake Erie smallmouths, my boat deck always has a Z-Man ChatterBait, SlingBladeZ™ spinnerbait or ElaZtech® soft plastic. The MiniMax has become a total go-to lure for big river bass. And baits like the Billy GOAT are just awesome for punching heavy cover; they’re almost endlessly durable. (Dietz recently fished an entire Toyota Series tournament with just two weedless-rigged GOATs, boating countless bass during the three-day event.)

Highlighting the company’s continued desire to connect with authentic young anglers, Z-Man promotions director Joey Prochazka adds perspective. “It’s not always just about how many tournaments you’ve won or that you’ve caught more giants than the next angler,” notes Prochazka. “We love it when someone in our Z-Man family wins, no doubt. But more important is the way our pros engage with fans; how they tell our story. It’s about their passion to teach others and to give back to the sport of fishing, when possible. No question, Jamie, Briana and Jonathan all embody these qualities and more. Couldn’t be happier to share in all their future victories.”

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.