Popcorn Shrimp for Persnickety Inshore PredatorsFour-years of R&D yields remarkable Z-Man Trout Trick® Jerk ShrimpZ™
Extraordinary things happen when a luremaker takes his or her time in the creation a new bait—as opposed to the all-too-often practice of rushing products to market before they’re truly ready.
“The Trout Trick Jerk ShrimpZ has been one of our favorite projects, a bait we’ve been test-fishing and tweaking for the last four years,” notes Z-Man president and expert inshore angler, Daniel Nussbaum. “It’s been a fun, interesting ride with a ton of trout and redfish in the boat. Now, it’s time to share this special bait and put it in our customers’ hands.”
For Nussbaum and other Z-Man insiders, a critical part of the 48-plus month process involved the seemingly mundane ritual of observing, again and again, exactly how live shrimp swim and which parts of their anatomy drive the engine. “On the water, we observed that under normal conditions, shrimp swim slowly forward,” Nussbaum observed. “But when they’re frightened or chased by a predator, they dart away rapidly in reverse, employing short, sharp spurts.
“We could have easily designed this bait forward-first like so many other shrimp imitations on the market, but we really challenged our team to mimic the jet-propulsion, reverse movements of fleeing shrimp—that’s the action fish see and respond to when hunting crustaceans. I’m pleased to say, this bait transcends expectations. It’s that dead-on. When you twitch or sharply hop the Jerk ShrimpZ along bottom, you get a super lively reaction I’ve not seen in another crustacean replica.”
Sculpted with a tail-first posture by intent, the 3.5-inch Trout Trick Jerk ShrimpZ has produced numerous species beyond its seatrout namesake, including big redfish, snook, flounder and even juvenile tarpon during testing. The soft, durable ElaZtech® bait sports a tucked-under tail and flat belly which combine to amplify natural gliding action on the fall—the critical second half of a live shrimp’s flight response. Z-Man took its time perfecting the Jerk ShrimpZ, a labor of love that resulted in a remarkably lifelike shrimp-mimic.
Adorning the Jerk ShrimpZ’s anterior, thin sets of pereopods (swimming legs) and twin paddletail antennae vibrate and yield complementary animation. Bulbous eyestalks and a true-to-life rostrum (beak) finish the authentic effect. “Because it’s ElaZtech, all the little appendages won’t tear off, even after multiple fish-catches.”
Nussbaum notes another issue Z-Man overcame in their R&D. “Most shrimp imitations don’t cast well, especially in wind. “We purposefully sculpted the Jerk ShrimpZ with a streamlined shape and swept-back tail and appendages. The bait boasts minimal wind resistance; it casts like a bullet and actually lands softly—perfect for delicate, long-range presentations for when fish get spooky.”
The Jerk ShrimpZ’s ElaZtech composition gives the bait a softness and durability that doesn’t seem to make sense—particularly for anglers accustomed to more rigid plastics that quickly tear apart. The specialized softbait material also yields a final, decisive advantage: buoyancy and an upright underwater posture.
“While other baits lay flat on bottom, the buoyant Jerk ShrimpZ remains highly visible to fish when dragged slowly along the substrate,” Nussbaum conveys. “The head and antennae float up and sway enticingly to create a prominent strike target. We’ve found this shows fish a lively, shrimp-like stance they can’t refuse when they get super finicky and want an ultra-subtle approach.”
Two rigging approaches excel, shallow and deep. “During testing we found this bait shines for redfish on the shallow flats when rigged on an EZ KeeperZ™ weighted hook. Also makes the bait virtually immune to snagging grass.
“Snapping the rodtip sharply activates the twin paddletail antennae and makes them vibrate. This gets the reds’ attention, even when they’re nosing around, rooting for crustaceans. Redfish just hammer the Jerk ShrimpZ as it glides slowly back down—thanks to its flat belly and tucked-under tail wings.
“In deeper water for seatrout, redfish and flounder, we’ve been super successful rigging the Jerk ShrimpZ on a size 4/0 HeadlockZ™ HD jighead. We use the same sharp twitches to mimic a panicked shrimp, which attracts attention from any fish in the neighborhood. The strike trigger occurs, again, as the ShrimpZ flutters seductively and helplessly back toward bottom.”
Released to the public in early August, the Z-Man Trout Trick Jerk ShrimpZ is a 3.5-inch live shrimp replica that pairs perfectly with Trout Eye®, Weedless Eye™, HeadlockZ and EZ KeeperZ jigheads and hooks. Sold in 5-packs, the elite new inshore bait features eight potent color patterns, including Electric Chicken, Laguna Shrimp and Sexy Penny. For more information on all Z-Man ElaZtech baits, visit www.zmanfishing.com.