January 03, 2013
By Ned Kehde
Z-Man Fishing Products unveiled their Palmetto BugZ in July to the angling world at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades.
But before that introduction, David Walker of Sevierville, Tennessee, was wielding prototypes of it on the Bassmaster tournament circuits, commencing with the Classic at the Red River near Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, on Feb. 24-26.
One of Walker's piscatorial fortes is flipping and pitching, and he said the conditions at Classic where ideal for pitching and flipping a Palmetto BugZ. And it helped him to amass his Classic catch of largemouth bass that weighed 40.8-pounds. That catch put his name in 13th place on the leader board and gardened him $14,200 in prize money.
Day in, day out, Walker rigs the Palmetto BugZ Texas-style on a 5/0 Lazer Trokar Flippin' Hook. This hook is festooned with a Trokar B.A.R.B. on the Shank, which is a bait-keep system that is situated immediately below the eye of the hook. The Palmetto BugZ is made from a material called ElaZtech. Walker described it as "a space-age material" that adheres to the bait keeper almost as if it were glued. Thus, the head of the Palmetto BugZ does not slip down the shank of the hook.
There are some rumors circulating in angling circles that the execution of a perfect hook set is problematic with a Texas-rigged ElaZtech bait. These rumors contend that the point and barb of the hook can't easily penetrate the torso of ElaZtech baits similar to the Palmetto BugZ. But Walker emphatically says that it's not true. In fact, Walker contends that hook sets seem to be a tad easier with ElaZtech baits than they are with most conventional soft-plastic baits.
Above the hook, Walker threads on a Reins TG Tungsten Slip Sinkers to the line, and he works with three sizes of sinkers: a 5/16-ounce, a 3/8-ounce and a 1/2-ounce.
He pitches and flips the Palmetto BugZ into and around flooded buckbrush, laydowns, flooded timber, boat docks, man-made brush piles, emergent aquatic vegetation and submergent aquatic vegetation. When he is probing extremely bushy lairs, where it is essential to have the Palmetto BugZ plummet straight down through a maze of limbs, Walker pegs the slip sinker. But in more open-water situations, Walker prefers to work with a sinker that is not pegged, noting that the sliding sinker adds an alluring movement to the bait that can't be achieved when the slip sinker is pegged. He also notes that tungsten sinker should be endowed with a plastic insert so as to prevent the tungsten from fraying the line. Walker opts for the 3/8-ounce slip sinker when he is pitching around cattails or patches flooded buckbrush that are adorned with a lot of leaves. The cattails and leaves create resistance on his line, and that resistance prevents the Palmetto BugZ from plummeting to the bottom. When the cattails, leafy environs or similar situations are extremely thick, he will work with a 1/2-ounce slip sinker.
Walker's Shimano Chronarch 201 E Series reel is spooled with Sunline's 20-pound-test Shooter Fluorocarbon, and at times, he opts for Shooter's 22- and 25-pound-test fluorocarbon. The reel is fitted on a G. Loomis seven-foot, five-inch, fast-action, heavy-power flipping stick.
Around muddy-water lairs, Walker usually works with the 22- and 25-pound-test lines, and when he fishes waterways that contain a goodly number of lunker-size largemouth bass, such as Lake Falcon, Texas, he usually opts for 25-pound-test. But on waterways, like the Ohio River, where the size of most of the black bass are small, he flips and pitches the Palmetto BugZ on 20-pound-test.
The depths he probes range from as shallow as two feet of water to as deep as six feet.
In regard to the optimal water clarity for flipping and pitching the Palmetto BugZ, Walker has found that stained to muddy water is the best. From Walker's perspective, that means from two feet to about two inches or less of clarity. But he noted that in muddy-water scenarios it is necessary for the muddy water to be what he called "old mud, not new or fresh mud."
In muddy-water environments, Walker says that a goodly number of bass will not be ensconced inside laydowns, buckbrush, brush piles and flooded trees, and instead these bass will often be milling about in open-water area between those objects. In these conditions, he will pitch the Palmetto BugZ into the open-water areas and hop and drag and deadstick it.
Walker noted that the ElaZtech material makes the Palmetto BugZ an extremely buoyant bait, and that buoyancy seems to make it more alluring than other brands of beaver-style and creature-style baits. Because of the buoyancy factor, its torso and four appendages rise up off the bottom between a 45- to 90-degree angle and undulate enticingly when Walker deadsticks the Palmetto BugZ.
Walker's two favorite Palmetto BugZ colors are green pumpkin and black sapphire.
Walker hasn't worked with the Palmetto BugZ on a jika rig. But as Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri, explained in the blog entitled "Stacey the Jika Rig King," a beaver-style bait like the Palmetto BugZ has been an extremely fruitful combo for him and several other anglers at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, Bull Shoals Lake, Missouri and Arkansas, Lake Wheeler, Alabama and several other waterways. Thus, in the months to come, we hope to write about the Palmetto BugZ and jika-rig combo. We will also post a blog about how, when and where Luke Clausen of Spokane Valley, Washington, works with the Palmetto BugZ.
The folks at Z-Man say that Palmetto BugZ was designed so it would easily slide through patches of emergent vegetation, buckbrush, laydowns, brush piles and similar objects, making it ideal for flipping, pitching, and punching. Its torso is endowed with 20 rings, which creates a softer feel and a touch of vibration as it slides through and across various lairs. It is impregnated with salt, and its ElaZtech torso and four appendages are tough enough to withstand the abuse rendered by scores of black bass. (See the footnote below about ElaZtech's durability.)
Palmetto BugZ is available in eight colors. A package of five retails for $3.99.
For more information about the King's jika rig endeavors see:
In regard to the durability of ElaZtech soft-plastic baits, some Midwest finesse anglers have reported that they have caught more than 150 largemouth bass on the same ElaZtech bait.