Almost day in, day out, there are some Midwest finesse anglers who are hoping that tackle manufacturers will make smaller soft-plastic baits rather than larger ones.
Likewise, it is a rare phenomenon when some Midwest finesse anglers are hoping that a tackle manufacturer will make a larger soft-plastic bait. This unique phenomenon occurred soon after Z-Man Fishing Products introduced its 2 1/2-inch Slim SwimZ to the angling world in 2014.
We published a Midwest finesse gear guide about it on Dec. 22, 2014, lauding it as a very effective white bass bait. Since then, it has become an effective tool for crappie anglers, too. But it has not become a significant tool for most Midwest finesse anglers.
But all of that hoping for a slightly bigger Slim SwimZ changed when Z-Man announced to the angling world at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show on July 12 at Orlando, Florida, that they have created a three-inch Slim SwimZ. And as soon as some Midwest finesse anglers got their hands on them and began wielding them, they were instantaneously impressed with the effectiveness of this three-inch swim bait.
For instance, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, posted a note on Aug. 29 to some members of the Finesse News Network that he has not been able to acquire them, but his son-in-law Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina, has been waylaying largemouth bass in shallow water with a three-inch watermelon-red Slim SwimZ affixed to a 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.
Park told Poe that the three-inch Slim SwimZ exhibits an alluring side-to-side roll that is matched with a significant thumping action of its boot-style tail. According to Poe, Parks is thinking that the Slim SwimZ will become his primary tool in his cold-water repertoire and replace his old-time wintertime standard-bearer, which is the No. 5 Rapala Shad Rap.
Casey Kidder, who is a veteran and astute Midwest finesse angler from Topeka, Kansas, responded to Poe's note, saying that he is ecstatic to see that Z-Man has created a three-inch green-pumpkin Slim SwimZ, and he has ordered it and several other hues, and he was eagerly waiting for them to arrive. Kidder also mentioned that the 2 1/2-inch electric-chicken Slim SwimZ was a very productive bait for him during the fall of 2016, winter of 2016-17, and spring of 2017 for catching crappie and walleye in the flat-land reservoirs of northeastern Kansas.
Kidder noted in an email on Sept. 6 that "the design of the Slim SwimZ's tail is truly special. Some swimbaits need to be rigged on a heavier jighead or retrieved at [a quick pace] in order to get the tail working. One literally cannot stop the Slim SwimZ tail from wiggling, no matter how light a jighead is used or how slowly it is retrieved. It's that good. I am simply awestruck by how well it works."
The torso of the Slim SwimZ is shaped like a small baitfish, such as a common shiner or a brook silverside or a small gizzard shad. The tip of its tail is endowed with a paddle, which causes it and the portion of its body that is not impaled with the shank of the hook to undulate alluringly.
It is made with a substance that is called ElaZtech, which is an extremely soft and flexible material. And in the eyes of most Midwest finesse anglers, soft-plastic baits made with ElaZtech quiver and move more readily than the bodies of baits that are made with plastisol or other types of soft plastic. It is also an extremely buoyant material, which allows the paddle tail to rise at nearly a 90-degree angle when an angler employs a deadstick presentation with a Slim SwimZ rigged on a mushroom-style jig. The buoyancy factor also allows a Slim SwimZ rigged on a mushroom-style jig to glide extremely slowly when an angler utilizes a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
Poe said: "It is the best-designed soft-plastic swimbait I have ever seen. How in the world they got the 'wobble' and the tail action is beyond me. Even expensive large swimbaits aren't as consistent as these tiny baits."
What's more, ElaZtech bodies are incredibly durable. For example, Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, has caught a total of 232 black bass and white bass on the same Slim SwimZ before it became too tattered and torn to stay firmly affixed to a mushroom-style jig.
Not only are ElaZtech bodies extremely durable, but scores of Midwest finesse anglers have gradually discovered that largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are more attracted to soft-plastic baits that are made out of ElaZtech than they are attracted to soft-plastic baits that are made out of plastisol or other soft-plastic materials. Likewise, some temperate bass anglers have noticed that ElaZtech baits seem to allure more white bass than the conventional and traditional soft-plastic baits that they have used for years on end. Some of these anglers are guessing that it might be a scent factor. Yet, even when these anglers employ all of the best Socratic and scientific thought that they can muster, they are unable to determine why black bass and temperate bass find ElaZtech lures more alluring than conventional plastic ones, and some of these anglers have concluded that they are close to being a magic bait.
The three-inch Slim SwimZ is available in the following colors: Baby Bass, Bad Shad, Blood Worm, Calico Candy, Electric Chicken, Green Pumpkin, Motor Oil, Opening Night, Pearl, Pink Glow, Space Guppy, The Deal, and Watermelon Red.
A package of six costs $4.49
(1) Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina, is the president of Z-Man Fishing Products, and he has been a member of the Finesse News Network since 2011. In an email on Sept. 7, he wrote: "I think the design and shape of the tail is what gives this bait €¦ such great swimming action. I wish we could claim credit for this tail design, but it actually came from a bait called the Ivy Shad that is no longer in production. I remember using the Ivy Shad when I was a child, and as best I can gather, it was a bait that was hand-poured here in South Carolina until the late 1980s or early 1990s. The Ivy Shad was a popular bait on the Santee Cooper lakes and the Cooper River for striped bass and largemouth bass, as well as for saltwater species like trout and redfish"