Z-MAN: ‘The Hunter’ and The Hunted
Nov 6th, 2020 by Keith Worrall
Modified Nov 6th, 2020 at 10:13 AM
‘The Hunter’ and the Hunted
Two essential Z-Man® concepts connect, culminate with new Eye Strike™ ChatterBait®
Ladson, SC (November 5, 2020) – Consider a pair of proven lure concepts living under the same roof for years, but never establishing a positive link. Who knew that ultimately, the connection would be a natural? That the outcome would prove undeniable? Unpredictable.
The answer: Z-Man did.
The two essential tackle elements—the original, transformational ChatterBlade® and a precision-balanced Eye Strike Fishing® jighead—have merged to create another potentially epic Z-Man lure. Just when everyone thought bladed jig innovations had reached their limits, Z-Man forged forward with the new Eye Strike™ ChatterBait®, shifting the lure category it created in all sorts of different directions.
Eye Strike ChatterBait by Z-Man
“From cast one, I knew the Eye Strike ChatterBait was special because right out of the package, it swam with an unpredictable, super erratic hunting action,” exclaims Z-Man pro Miles “Sonar” Burghoff. “We’ve been begging Z-Man to make us a more streamlined, skirt-free ChatterBait; something that would match our favorite ElaZtech trailers and still maintain that awesome bladed jig action and vibration that’s become critical to our success on tour. They absolutely nailed it with this bait, and even went above and beyond our expectations.”
The Eye Strike ChatterBait eclipses the talents of its two component parts. The original hexagonal, stainless steel ChatterBlade activates the precision-balanced Eye Strike jighead and its trailing softbait. Each element melds into a singular fluid presentation, showcasing that trademark quick-starting Z-Man vibration and trembling action—and adding those sudden erratic left-right slashing or hunting movements. Z-Man’s patented direct blade-to-jig connection produces a distinctive, proven thump—a sound that’s exclusive to the ChatterBait family of bladed jigs. An extra tough stainless steel line tie holds up to the toughest underwater predators, including big bass and bull redfish.
Created by longtime Z-Man allies and jig maestros Dave Fladd and Ralph Phillips of Eye Strike Fishing®, the Eye Strike Jighead features a precision crafted baitfish sculpt. True to its name, wielding the jighead is impossible without staring into a pair of oversized 3D preyfish eyes—a veritable strike target and the calling card of this highly successful design. Built into the mold, dual piercing keeper barbs snug soft plastic trailers tight to the jig collar. A heavy-duty 4/0 or 5/0 Mustad® UltraPoint® hook retains its wicked-sharpness, freshwater or salt.
“Z-Man’s patented direct connection makes the blade constantly crack the jighead, producing its inimitable, random hunting action,” notes FLW Tour pro, Burghoff. “Put a 4-inch DieZel MinnowZ™ or slightly smaller MinnowZ™ on the back of this bait and it’ll hop side to side with a simple slow-roll retrieve. Occasionally, I’ll also kill it and let it flutter, especially around cover, but it hunts so naturally that you don’t have to pop it with the rodtip to activate that action.
“This extra natural profile and presentation really works when fish are keying on subtle details like baitfish eyes, body and the evasive maneuvers of prey,” he adds. “The Eye Strike ChatterBait definitely shines in clear water, but also anywhere fish are maybe a little conditioned to a traditional, skirted bladed jig.”
Burghoff’s recent success with the lure at Lake Chickamauga leads him to believe it will produce equally well at other heavily fished or clear water venues. “The Eye Strike ChatterBait will be a player at places like Lake Seminole, Florida. Guarantee I’ll be throwing it this spring around that sparse vegetation. I’m confident the lure will be a hit with big smallmouths, too, especially when they’re up hunting the shallow flats. This is a design that could also become a hot striper bait and a sleeper for walleyes and pike up north.
“In the clearest water, I like to throw the silver Eye Strike ChatterBait with a 4-inch Pearl Blue Glimmer or Bad Shad pattern DieZel MinnowZ. In dirty water, go to the gold blade, gold eye pattern and try a brighter DieZel like Sexy Penny or Hot Snakes.”
Equally effective in saltwater, Z-Man pros and father-and-son tournament team Mark and Michael Cowart have been slamming big redfish with the lure at IFA Redfish Tour events in Florida and the Louisiana Delta. At the last IFA event of the 2020 season, Michael Cowart earned a strong 4th place finish, exclusively throwing a gold ¼-ounce Eye Strike ChatterBait with a RaZor ShadZ™.
“The subtle, low profile nature of the Eye Strike ChatterBait is ideal for big redfish,” says Cowart, who operates ShallowTails Adventures Guide Service in Panama City, Florida. “It’s built incredibly durable and tough. I’ve still got the same bait tied on from last week, close to thirty big reds later.
“It’s a minimalistic ChatterBait that gives you all the flash and vibration benefits of a spoon with the subtlety and action of a jig and ElaZtech trailer. Actually, this lure has more vibration than a spoon and you hook every fish in the top of the jaw for a nice healthy release, every time.”
Rigged Eye Strike ChatterBaits, left to right – two with 5” DieZel MinnowZ, 5” StreakZ, 5” Scented Jerk ShadZ, RaZor ShadZ, two with 4” DieZel MinnowZ.
Cowart also calls attention to the lure’s minimal wind resistance, extended casting distance and versatility. “I like to throw the lure on a 7’ 3” medium-heavy baitcaster, 50-pound braid and a 20- or 25-pound test fluorocarbon leader. I love sightfishing the bait for ultra-shallow reds. But you can also work it down in deeper channels and along bridges.”
“Everything works in concert with this bait, really flows together naturally,” adds veteran redfish pro, Mark Cowart. “The blade does all the work. While the Eye Strike Jighead fishes streamlined and weedless. Its narrow design lends itself to swimming seamlessly behind the blade. The RaZor ShadZ adds to the illusion—and it’s an astonishingly convincing one, for sure.”
“Here’s how good this bait is,” adds Michael Cowart. “The other day, I set the hook on a strike from a gar, which you never hook. The bait flew out of the water, landed right next to the boat and before I could even reel up to it, a big redfish had already eaten it. That’s when you know you’ve got the right lure tied on.”
Available in stores and online in November, the Z-Man Eye Strike ChatterBait sports three colors—gold blade / gold eyes, silver blade / silver eyes and black blade / white eyes– matched to ¼-, 3/8- or ½-ounce jig weights. For more information on this and other exceptional Z-Man lures, visit www.zmanfishing.com.
Michael and Mark Cowart have been putting on a redfish clinic with their new secret weapon.