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by Jeff Wilton

For pretty much any fishing application ZMan 3" MinnowZ will produce fish. They are my 'go-to' plastic and their versatility still surprises me, both fresh and saltwater fish can't resist a well presented MinnowZ! The fact that you could be up a saltwater tidal creek lobbing them into snags rigged weedless on ChinlockZ SWS TT jigheads (Snagless Weight System) and smacking mangrove jack and barramundi in the morning, then out in the Bluewater dropping them into 30+ metres on 3/4 - 1oz TT HeadlockZ HD jigheads for nannygai and fingermark for lunch. Then, as the sun was setting, you could be stealthily flicking them into undercut banks on silly string up in the fresh for sooty grunter and jungle perch. Yep, I can easily say that if I was only allowed to use one plastic for the rest of my life it would be a ZMan 3" MinnowZ. Below are a few situations where I test the MinnowZ almost daily here in NQ.

Creek Bashing Minnowz Style

The tide started to just creep out of the mangroves and the snags were beginning to show themselves. The baitfish seemed to be getting nervous and I couldn't help but smile as I witnessed a school of herring swimming for their lives before a crater appeared and one disappeared. Arriving at my destination I cut the motor and deployed the electric, silence except for the whining of the mozzies... BOOF... and I scrambled to grab my rod! Rigged and ready to go was a ZMan 3" MinnowZ in Pearl colour, rigged on a 1/8oz 3/0 TT HeadlockZ HD jighead.

Casting the MinnowZ into the edge of the snag and letting it slowly sink, whilst slightly twitching the rod tip, my concentration was solely on the loose line. I started the retrieve when I thought the plastic was getting close to the bottom, a slow wind with a pause and a twitch of the rod is all that is needed. It didn't take long and on the pause the braid came up tight and I was on. An extremely hard hit and power lunge told me it was a mangrove jack and I only just turned it away from its home.

Being a typical ZMan plastic (10X Tough) after unhooking and releasing the mangrove jack it was ready to go into battle again. The next few casts went unnoticed so I decided a change of tactics was needed, the fish were obviously hanging very deep in the structure. As they didn't want to come out and play it was time to get that MinnowZ right into the thick of things. TT SnakelockZ jigheads are designed so that your plastic can be rigged 'snagless' which allows you to literally throw it right into the structure... HANG ON! MinnowZ sit perfectly on the 3/0 Snakelockz and as it was shallow with not much current I wanted a light weight so that the plastic would slowly sink into the strike zone. I chose a 1/8oz head and my confidence soared.

With adrenalin pumping, I felt my heart rate increase when I made my next cast. My body was poised and every muscle was tensed as I knew what was about to happen as the plastic landed deep in the snag and started slowly sinking into the dark depths. I swear I saw the entire snag shake as the rod got near ripped out of my hands. All I could do was strike hard, thumb the spool and use the rod to attempt to persuade the fish to swim out the right way. It didn't, and the fight lasted only a second or two but that's how close quarter snag bashing goes.

As the tide had continued to drop out over the last hour there were some very fishy drains starting to appear. These drains carry all sorts of edible goodies and warm water out of the mangroves and are well known feeding areas for barramundi. The next MinnowZ was rigged on a standard 1/4oz 3/0 HeadlockZ HD jighead and I couldn't wait to lob it into the mouth of any drain I could find.

Staying a distance off the drain I made a long cast and watched the plastic land right up in the shallows. With a slow roll it started making its way back to the boat. BOOF! I heard the underwater explosion before the rod even registered the hit and on the strike a solid chrome barramundi leapt for the sky. The thing I love about ZMan MinnowZ the most is their versatility, change the style of jighead and you have a new way of presenting your MinnowZ to the fish.

MinnowZ in the BluewaterZ

We were fishing over a wreck in 30 metres of water and the sounder was showing some awesome DROP NOW activity. But try as we might we were struggling to get any interest from the fish that were clearly there. It was one of those middle of the day and slack tide scenarios and the fish were not switched on in the slightest.

It was time for a game changer and out came the MinnowZ and some 1/2oz HeadlockZ. I also took the time to drop my leader size down to give me optimal chances to get the bite. Covering the MinnowZ with Pro-Cure Inshore Saltwater Super Gel Scent, my confidence was sky high as I watched the little MinnowZ disappear into the depths. After reaching the bottom all that was needed was a slow lift off the bottom and as it dropped back down it was clobbered. The culprit was a large mouth nannygai and the next dozen drops produced the same result, mixed with various trevally species. The small size of the 3' MinnowZ is irresistible to bluewater fish, even when they are shut down. The jelly bean effect - even if you are not hungry you would still eat a jellybean if it was put in front of you, and fish are no different.

Swimming the Minnowz in the SweetwaterZ

Trekking through the tropical jungle, we emerged into the creek and it looked really fishy. The first pool was pretty straight forward, with the odd tree and rock, but had plenty of depth. This situation called for the MinnowZ to be rigged on a light (1/8oz) TT HeadlockZ as I could cast it to the top of the pool and let it sink into the depths on the retrieve.

No sooner had it disappeared from sight the rod registered a solid hit and I was on. The culprit was a solid sooty grunter and they know how to fight. After pulling a few more sooty grunter from this stretch we wandered around the bend and another pool was found. This had overhanging trees and snags everywhere and it wasn't deep but seemed the perfect spot for a jungle perch to be hiding.

For this scenario the minnowz was rigged on a 3/0 ChinlockZ jighead. This is a snagless and very natural looking presentation. The minnowz landed softly and with a very slow and twitchy retrieve it bumped its way over and around the snags. Half way down the pool a pack of jungle perch appeared out of nowhere and raced each other to smash the plastic right in front of me. The creek played out like this for the next kilometre until we reached a wide deep pool fringed with weed and lily pads. This pool screamed barra but getting a lure presented to them would be difficult. The trusty TT SnakelockZ was rigged and lobbed into the mess of weed and lilies. A quick, high retrieve had the MinnowZ swimming nicely and not gathering much weed and as it neared the edge it was inhaled with a loud BOOF and all hell broke loose. With plenty of patience and fancy rod work a lovely golden, sweetwater barra was subdued at my feet.

So there you have it. ZMan 3" Minnowz are just deadly in all situations. Matching them with the appropriate TT Jigheads means you can swim them anywhere. The fish don't really stand a chance. Hang on!

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