Finesse News Network's Gear Guide: Z-Man's FattyZ
July 23, 2012
Z-Man Fishing Products' FattyZ was spawned by Luke Clausen.
Clausen hails from Spokane Valley, Washington. His professional tournament career began at the Bassmaster Tour event on the Harris Chain of Lakes, Leesburg, Florida, Jan. 9, 2003. He captured the coveted Forrest Wood Cup trophy during his rookie season on the FLW circuit in 2004. Then in 2006, he won the Bassmaster Classic. This year he finished sixth in the very competitive and prestigious FLW Tour's angler-of-the-year race, and he will compete at the Forrest Wood Cup Championship at Lake Lanier, Georgia, on Aug. 9-12. He currently sits in 20th place in BassFans World Rankings.
One of his piscatorial fortes is finesse fishing. But it is not the Midwest finesse tactics that the late and great Chuck Woods of Kansas City pioneered in the 1950s and '60s. Clausen calls his style of bass fishing power-finesse, and the FattyZ was devised as a power-finesse bait. So, instead of utilizing a spinning rod as Woods used to employ with his finesse tactics, Clausen primarily employs baitcasting outfits, and only on rare occasions will Clausen wielded on spinning tackle.
Clausen said that his mission and that of the Z-Man staff was to create a bait that was subtler and possessed a slimmer profile than Z-Man's five-inch ZinkerZ. They also wanted to create a tail that wagged and seductively undulated with a slightest provocation. In Clausen's eyes, their work was a success.
He has been wielding various prototypes of the FattyZ since the Walmart FLW Tour Open event at Lake Okeechobee, Florida, on Feb. 9. The only prototype color that was available was green-pumpkin, and it has allured impressive array of bass at most of the waterways that he fished on the FLW circuit. He found it to be especially effective at Beaver Lake, Arkansas, and Table Rock Lake, Missouri. He caught a five-pound largemouth bass on it at Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, in March.
Besides its slimmer profile and alluring tail, the FattyZ is graced with a molded-in hook slot, which facilitates rigging it on a Z-Man Shaky HeadZ jig or a 4/0 offset worm hook. This slot also allows for easier hook penetration when a bass attempts to engulf it.
To facilitate casting the FattyZ, it is impregnated with salt. In fact, 25 percent of its body weight is salt, while 40 percent of the ZinkerZ is salt, 15 percent of the Finesse WormZ and new Hula StickZ is salt. According to Clausen, the weight of the salt allows him to make more accurate and longer casts while employing a lighter jig or sinker, and that lighter jig also allows the FattyZ to fall from the surface to the bottom at a seductively slow pace. From Clausen experience, its slow rate of fall is a critical factor. In essence, he attempts to replicate what he calls "a natural fall."
To create that leisurely, bewitching and natural fall, Clausen rigs the FattyZ on a 3/16-ounce Z-Man Shaky HeadZ jig or a Texas rig with a 3/16-ounce slip sinker and 4/0 offset worm hook. From Clausen's perspective, the color of the head of the jig isn't a factor. Therefore, he uses either a green-pumpkin or black Shaky HeadZ without thinking about it.
When he works with the 3/16-ounce Shaky HeadZ and FattyZ, his baitcasting outfit is spooled with 12-pound-test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, and in clear-water environs, he will use 10-pound-test fluorocarbon. His rod is a Megabass Orochi f4.5-70Ã—4.
His favorite way to employ the FattyZ is on the Shaky HeadZ, but when he fishes around flooded trees, laydowns, a maze of aquatic vegetation, brush piles or snaggy objects, he opts for a Texas rig that consist of a 4/0 offset worm hook and a 3/16-ounce slip sinker. Most of the time, this casting outfit is spooled with 16-pound-test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, but if the water is clear, such as the water that he fished in the Ozarks this year, he will utilize 12-pound-test-fluorocarbon line. The rod he uses in this scenario is a Megabass Orochi f6-72Ã—4.
Clausen has found that 10- to 16-pound-test line allows the FattyZ to exhibit more action than heavier line. And if he is confronted with a situation where the bass prefer a lot of action out of the FattyZ, he will wield a spinning outfit spooled with eight-pound-test Tuf-Line XPbraid line and a eight-pound-test fluorocarbon leader.
In an e-mail on July 24, Clausen wrote that he likes to employ what he calls a slack-line presentation with the FattyZ. The slack line allows the FattyZ to plummet to the bottom without resistance, "causing the bait to move more naturally through the water."
At the same time, Clausen noted that "there will be times and places where a swimming or tight-line presentations will work," and as other anglers experiment with the FattyZ other ways of presenting it to the bass will unfold.
Clausen accomplishes his slack-line presentation like this: After he executes his cast or pitch or flip, he immediately drops the tip of the rod almost to the lake's surface, and he does not reel up the slack. This he allows the lure to fall from the surface to the bottom without resistance. It also allows the FattyZ's tail to quiver and undulate and even wag as it plummets slowly to the bottom. To detect a strike, he watches the line the same way trout anglers watch their lines as they present a nymph to their quarries. Sometimes, the detection of a strike by line watching can be so subtle that is almost a sixth sense. After the FattyZ reaches the bottom, he moves it by lifting his rod, and then he drops it instantaneously so the tip is down and pointed at the lake's surface, and this allows the bait to once again fall to bottom on slack line. He continues this slack-line presentation until the bait has moved out of what he calls the strike zone.
Besides his favorite way of rigging and presenting the FattyZ with a slack-line retrieve on a Shaky HeadZ or second favorite way with a Texas rig, Clausen said some his friends have told him that they have enjoyed a lot of success wielding it on football-style shaky head jigs and dragging it across sand and gravel terrains.
Clausen says there are several other options for employing the FattyZ, and they are Carolina rigs, drop-shot rigs and weightless rigs. And as time goes on, anglers will develop more alternatives.
Clausen is aware that Midwest finesse anglers spend a lot of time wielding a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/32- to a 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig, and now several Midwest finesse anglers are eager to get their hands on a few FattyZs and affix them to a 1/16-, 3/32- and 3/16-ounces mushroom-style jig with an exposed hook. The only problem with the FattyZ for the Midwest finesse anglers is that the molded-in hook slot prevents them from customizing it by trimming an inch or more off its head, and these anglers do a lot of trimming and customizing on baits. Clausen suggested that Midwest finesse anglers can customize it into another 2 1/2-inch Z-Man bait, similar to the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, by cutting the tail off at the back of the molded-in hook slot. In addition, Midwest finesse anglers can work with its head section, cutting four or more tentacles in the molded-in hook slot, which will convert it into a 2 1/2-inch solid-body tube or Hula StickZ.
The FattyZ is available in eight colors, including California Craw, Junebug and watermelon red. Clausen notes that the two watermelon hues of the FattyZ are slightly transparent, which makes more effective than the Junebug, black-and-blue and green-pumpkin hues during the extremely sunny midday periods, and the reason for that is their transparency makes them look a tad smaller.
The suggested retail price for a package of 6 is $4.49.