Z-MAN: The Chameleon
Dec 18th, 2020 by Keith Worrall
Modified Dec 18th, 2020 at 9:30 AM
The Chameleon of Finesse Soft Plastics
Z-Man® Baby GOAT™ baits offer a renaissance of bass rigging options
Ladson, SC (December 17, 2020) – Sooner or later, someone comes along and asks you the question: If you were stranded on an island and could only pick one bait to catch fish, what would you choose? Some would say ‘curlytail grub.’ Good answer. Others might reply, ‘Rapala® Minnow.’ Tough to beat that. But what if you wanted even more variety? Something you could fish fast or slow. Bounce along the bottom or swim in a straight line? How about a jig or ChatterBait trailer, a Ned rig, or even, dare we say, a topwater?
All in one bait? No way, dude.
Yeah. Way. It’s precisely the point of Z-Man’s Baby GOAT, a crafty little finesse creature— plus craw, double grub, swimbait, mini topwater frog, use-it-how-you-choose-it ElaZtech® bait.
Z-Man’s Baby GOAT has been called the Swiss Army Knife of finesse soft plastics.
“You’re forcing me to pick one bait, really?” implores Z-Man pro and FLW Tour star Grae Buck. “Ok, give me a Baby GOAT. A green pumpkin one. Maybe green pumpkin orange. Man, that’s a tough call. But, yeah, the GOAT’s a chameleon. Can’t think of another softbait that catches fish on a Ned rig, finesse flipping jig or ChatterBait®, or even as a swimbait. That’s ElaZtech in a nutshell—buoyant, lively, and super soft yet tough enough to last and last for days. Like you said, one bait.”
Baby GOAT co-designer and professional angler Joey Nania agrees. “I’ve thrown this bait a bunch and whaled on a ton of bass with it this year. The double legs have a nice tight kick, and swim like a natural bluegill or shad. ElaZtech lets us do things with this bait that aren’t possible with traditional soft plastics, like fishing the same bait deep, shallow or right on top.”
The smallest among three proven GOAT sizes, the 3-inch Baby GOAT exhibits a flattened, segmented grub profile, producing a slow, alluring glide on the drop. Activated with the slightest forward momentum, twin flapper legs transition into matching paddle tails. Curved to catch and move more water, the GOAT’s tails commence thumping the moment you turn the reel handle; they kick and hum no matter the speed. Their buoyancy allows the legs to billow out and hover, at rest. To add lifelike texture and eye candy, a multitude of thorny spines adorn each leg.
“When the water gets cold, or when bass in brushpiles and laydowns watch a lot of bigger flippin’ jigs go by, the Baby GOAT on a back of a CrossEyeZ™ Power Finesse Jig seems to always get bit,” says Nania, Bassmaster pro and host of Sweetwater Fishing TV. “It’s a fish-catching little dude. I use a slightly heavier 3/8-oz jig which gives it extra speed on the fall, really activates those twin paddle tails. Small jig profile. Bigtime flap-factor.”
Buck’s become a fan of finesse flipping with the Baby GOAT, too, but trims ¼- to ½-inch off the bait’s head, which he says presents an even more compact jig package and possibly, just a bit more leg-kicking action. “What’s cool about his presentation is I can speed flip the bait, but stop it on bottom, and visualize the Baby GOAT’s legs riding up in that classic defensive crayfish posture,” Buck suggests. “That’s just an amazing trigger and something that only buoyant ElaZtech baits can pull off.”
Nania and Buck both prefer heavy flipping rods and 20 and 15 pound fluorocarbon, respectively. “A little secret is that these compact flippin’ jigs catch good bass all year around,” says Buck. “But it’s far from the only way I’ll fish the Baby GOAT.”
Again, Nania concurs. “In scattered grass, I’ll actually rig the Baby GOAT as a weedless shaky head. Take a NedlockZ EWG™ jig and Texas rig the bait. The NedlockZ has a beefed up #1 EWG hook and keeper, so you can go right into the grass, aggressively, and benefit from the bait’s flapping tail action with no worries about setting the hook or pulling bass out of the cover.”
The versatility of the Baby GOAT on display (left-to-right) with ChatterBait WillowVibe, rigged “vertically” on Finesse EyeZ jighead, weedless with TT Lures® NedlockZ EWG, with CrossEyeZ Power Finesse Jig ails rigged vertically
Another exciting application, Nania has been tweaking a new finesse ChatterBait known as the WillowVibe™. “The barebones WillowVibe sports a willowleaf blade that fishes awesome on shallow flats or deep ledges down to 20 feet,” suggests Nania. “And it’s a superstar around shad and suspended bass.
“I’ve been messing around with different trailers and found that the Baby GOAT can actually be effectively rigged on this ChatterBait in two ways. To fish it slower on ledges and other structure, I’ll rig the bait flat, or horizontally. But if you want to speed up just a bit and create slightly less drag, rig the GOAT vertical, so it fishes like a double paddletail swimbait.
“Right now, the finesse ChatterBait system’s on the down-low, but I’ve caught hundreds of bass on it this year,” admits Nania. “It’s legit.”
“Heck, you can even go finesse swimbait and rig the Baby GOAT on a Finesse EyeZ™ jig. Rig it vertically and for a sweet scissor-kick and twice the tail action. Count that as one more look bass haven’t seen before.”
Faced with increased fishing pressure, Z-Man pro Grae Buck flips with finesse.