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The Best Little Swimmer On The Market

For me, it's important to stay versatile with my lure choices. Traveling to fisheries all across the country requires such an approach; stay hard-headed, and you'll find yourself without a paycheck.

Even still, I've got a few baits that I can't be without. Much of this comes from my upbringing and experience fishing the lakes around home. The clear waters and diverse conditions at places like Hartwell and Russell require an open-minded approach. One minute the fish are on the bank, the next, they're suspended over fifty-feet of water.

After experiencing such extremes, I learned to trust a finesse swimbait to deliver the goods, regardless of conditions. In fact, if I only had one lure to fish across the Southeast, this one would get the call.

I've found the Z-Man MinnowZ to be the best little swimmer on the market. It's the perfect size - right at three inches long - but thick and heavy enough to hold a good-sized hook and cast well. I've been told the MinnowZ is Z-Man's best selling bait in the world; it just matches a small baitfish so well.

Like all Z-Man soft baits, the MinnowZ is made of super tough ElaZtech. While that's a real advantage for durability, it also adds a swimming action that you just can't get in more traditional materials. The subtle tail wag of the MinnowZ shows it off, even at the slowest speed.

When fishing a MinnowZ, that's a key component: slowing down. Jighead rigging is standard, but the key lies in what you do - or don't do - to the lure. It's absolutely important not to overwork the bait; less is more when it comes to fishing finesse swimbaits.

Weights vary depending on depth: I carry 1/8 and 3/16 ounce Trout Eye jigheads, and have both rigged on the deck. The MinnowZ is so versatile: if fish come up schooling, I've got them covered; if they're 20 feet down, I can fish it there, too.

As I mentioned, don't try to do too much in terms of retrieve. Typically, I make a long cast, count the bait down to my chosen depth, and begin a steady retrieve. A spinning set-up is best for this type of fishing, spooled with eight-pound fluorocarbon. This is one time that I choose straight fluoro - not braided line with a leader - as it seems to give me a little more sponginess and kind of de-sensitizes my feel.

Sometimes bass will push and bump the bait. Spotted bass are real bad about this. The straight fluorocarbon set-up prevents me from taking the bait away from those fish, and lets them engulf the lure.

When fishing the MinnowZ, I rarely stray from the Opening Night color. It's really versatile, combining the translucent look that's key in clear water, but with just enough glow to stand out when the water gets a bit of a stain. Finesse swimbaiting is a relatively clear-water game, anyway, so I stick to the natural colors most of the time.

I've got a MinnowZ rigged on my front deck all year long, but the fall season is still my favorite time to put it to work. We all know about the baitfish migrations that occur that time of year, making any shad imitation lure a good choice, but the size of those baitfish is sometimes an overlooked variable. You see, a lot of the shad coming in the creeks each fall are first-year fish - so they're right around three inches long - the same size as my MinnowZ. Nothing matches those shad better, and fools more of the bass following them around.

Believe me, few baits will get you as many bites as a finesse swimbait, and no lure on the market tops a MinnowZ. Tie one on, and see what you're missing.

Brian Latimer

Z-Man Fishing Pro Staff

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