Z Man DarterZ soft bait bodies
NZ Fishing World
March 5, 2021
I’m a big fan of Z Man soft bait bodies. I’ve used them for many years and found that they are usually my go-to choice, and I’m not alone. The other option is GULP, which are an entirely different proposition, and more recently, Catch and Daiwa entering the market with a very similarly based product to Z Man. That is, a tough, but very stretchy elastomer material in a range of tasty colours.
The Z Man bodies are a proven performer, designed and manufactured in the USA, and they have mastered the perfect combination of shape, longevity, movement, and buoyancy that seems to have inspired so many competitors to emulate without totally ripping off the recipe.
GULP are an entirely different deal, biodegradable (after some long time albeit) and constructed from a protein base that required constant hydration in a nice smelly goo. To this end, the GULP give off a lot more scent, which may make the difference to some fish in particular circumstances.
GULP are also a lot less durable and are often bitten apart by smaller fish and leatherjackets, so I tend to go through at least several GULP’s compared to a single Z man body.
To be fair, they all work, and I’ve enjoyed, and witnessed, massive fishing success on all brands of soft bait bodies in the market.
Put them in front of fish and they will work. Soft baits are, simply…deadly.
In case you are new to it, there are several articles on this site to help you get underway…
Soft baiting is one of the best ways there is to catch fish in less than 30 metres of water, and small boats, kayaks, and inshore fishermen casting these lures with any consistency will be well used to having them smashed by snapper, john dory, kingfish, kahawai, cod, trevally, gurnard, and the list goes on.
Enter a new player, the Z Man DarterZ. Brand new and fresh in store, they are available in my three most favourite Z man natural colours, plus a couple of extra bright versions.
DarterZ are sold in many good tackle stores including Marine Deals HERE:
Having not yet had the chance to get these lures wet, I look forward to getting out and giving them a go. Without doubt they will be effective.
To immediately note, they are a little longer and skinnier than the original 5” jerk shads, and have some extra ‘movement flutes’ moulded into the rear ¾.
An unnecessary addition which weakens the lure in my opinion, as without them the nature of the compound has plenty of natural unimpeded movement, but hey, they do look cool.
Also, a much flappier tail fin looks set to impart a great swimming and vibrating performance in the water.
In the photos below, the bodies are mounted on JIGGY'S JIG HEADS and on a couple I have nipped 5mm off the soft bait body head before putting on the hook to balance out the flailing tail length to where it feels a bit better. Easy and optional to do out on the water. These jig heads are available in several colours and 3 weights but all have the same length hook, designed (disclaimer, by my good self) to fit the soft bait bodies I prefer to use, ie, 5-6 inch jerk shad types.
I noticed they are a little fussier to get straight on the jig head with less rubber to work with around the hook, but they do go on and will stay on by all previous experience with this brand.
The jig head in the picture is a Jiggy’s 14 gram 3/0 available at Marine Deals HERE:
As soon as we get out to test these bad boys on the water we will update their real-world performance, and based on what I see so far I expect the results to be pretty positive.
It will be hard to beat the original jerk shad shape, which I still prefer at this time for its balance, length, volume and proven effectiveness, but time will tell.
We will report back as soon as we have had a good crack with these. Better go fishing!