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Paul Chew

Well once in a while that little light bulb inside my head decides it wants to be seen again and I have an idea or two, not all of them good but an idea all the same. Plenty end up getting filed in the bin, but I'm having some fun with this one. I am sure I am not the first to have tried this but I hadn't seen it elsewhere on the humble, and not often talked about ZMan 4" CrawdadZ. Now I had a packet of these fellas for a while and while I had caught a few saltwater fish on them, I hadn't really played too much with them. As anyone that knows me, knows my passion for bass fishing, particularly surface fishing, I am always looking for new things to try.

This season, with water levels plummeting in the local waterway, I have had to resort to my little kayak. This has re-ignited my passion for it, but that is a whole another story in itself, and has led to some awesome sessions on these feisty natives. The idea actually came over a coldy, sitting out the back, just playing around with a plastic or two and one fell into a bowl of water sitting on the table. As the ZMan plastics are buoyant, it just sat there floating on top and when moved, its claws flapped wildly with minimal forward movement. Winner!!!

So, I played around with some worm hooks and worked out that an unweighted 1/0 worked out ok, but with the claws of the Craw rigged in a forward fashion so as to illicit the most action from it, using the smallest of rod tip twitches.

As with any new technique that we employ to try trick our piscatorial foes, there was a bit of a learning curve, not the least of which was using a bit more punch to skip the offering under the overhanging trees. Also, it seems when using this less is more, with the slightest twitch of the rod often resulting in a surface explosion to rival any hard body.

Mostly, I have settled on a standard retrieve, tossing the CrawdadZ in under any overhanging tree, or beside any large lay down tree. Going against the current convention of leaving the lure sit, I immediately give it three or four small twitches straight up to maximise surface disruption... then leave it sit for thirty seconds or more. Then, I not so much as twitch the rod, rather shake it. This is just enough to move the crawdad forward a couple of centimetres and normally enough to entice a bass to engulf the plastic in a shower of water and foam.

I am lucky enough to fish waters that aren't running and are clear enough to see the bass spot the ZMan in flight and position themselves under its apparent landing zone, pec fins flared to stop them in an instant. Here they wait for the first sign of movement to indicate that it is actually a food source.

One of the other huge benefits of fishing this system in a yak is that you only have one hook to deal with instead of a brace of trebles attached to a wild thrashing fish. Just having the single hook to worry about is a lot easier, both for the fish and angler.

After quite a bit of testing, I am not convinced colour is a factor as I have had success with most. Recently I have been using Watermelon Chartreuse and Brown Orange, however I have been sticking with the darker Brown Orange early and switching to Watermelon Chartreuse later in the day.

Using this pattern recently I managed around 20 bass for a morning session, still enticing bites at 11am, which is something I haven't done with hard bodies. Interestingly though, later in the day the bites became more subtle, more like a trout sipping off the surface. As a result you have to be on top of your game to set the hook, as often the CrawdadZ has been sucked under before you realise.

Another advantage is that the lure of choice is relatively cheap, giving you the confidence to toss them right back into the thickest of timber and try to bring them out. You don't win them all, but it's knee trembling fun trying! Sometimes all you are left with is some water in your face and your leader waving in the breeze.

So if you are looking for something a little outside the square, grab a packet of ZMan 4" CrawdadZ, rig them claws forward, get on the water early and get ready for some serious fun with our feisty Australian bass. Remember, rigged this way more is definitely less. Just a slight twitch, twitch is all you need to get a smashing surface bite!

Good luck and tight lines... Chewy

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