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Perfect PaddlerZ

Cameron Cronin

Like most keen anglers out there, I'm always ready to jump at the opportunity to test new gear on my favourite target species, in the hope of discovering a new lure or technique that will stand out from the bunch and join a small handful of offerings in the 'go-to' category. So when I recently received a pack of ZMan 4" Scented PaddlerZ in the new Ralph's Shad colour to test out, it wasn't long before I had one rigged up and ready to cast at my favourite estuarine sportfish, the mulloway.

A quick dip in the water, on route to my destination, revealed an energetic tail beat and an aggressive body roll that had me pedalling as fast as my legs could propel my kayak in anticipation of making that first cast. Funnily enough, not ten seconds after my lure had hit the water I felt the tentative bump of a jewfish (mulloway) inhaling my lure through the braid and struck into an energetic little jewie that measured just under the NSW legal size of 70cm. Small beginnings for sure, but as I slipped him back into the water you couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I was certain I'd found the lure I'd being looking for.

In the 6 months or so that have passed, since the session I just described, I've being using the 4" along with the ZMan 5" Scented PaddlerZ borderline religiously for jewfish and snapper. To say they have exceeded expectations is definitely an understatement. In my opinion, the reason for this surprising success is simple. Those who have got their hands on a pack of PaddlerZ will know that although this lure has a paddle tail, it is of a very similar profile and appearance to that of a 'jerk shad' style plastic. In other words, the Paddlerz is essentially a hybrid, taking the more natural, baitfish like appearance of a jerk shad and bringing it to life with the addition of a small paddle tail. Alone this small tail wouldn't be enough to give the PaddlerZ the action that it has, but ZMan have cleverly 'segmented' the rear half of the lure, maximising tail movement and giving the lure an incredible action that has to be seen to be believed.

This combination of styles has resulted in an extremely versatile lure that, for me, has routinely resulted in more landed fish. In my case, before discovering the PaddlerZ, I had always had a strong preference for large profile paddle tail plastics when targeting mulloway. Unfortunately this profile seems to greatly reduce certain by-catch species I enjoy catching, including snapper, big bream, salmon and kingfish, which prefer the slimmer, 'baitfish' look of a jerk shad. Now, instead of alternating between two different rods with different lures, I can happily settle with a PaddlerZ, knowing that no matter what predator crosses paths with my lure, the end result will be me hooked up!

As I mentioned earlier, although the PaddlerZ is a fantastic all-rounder, the two species I believe that are most partial to this deadly little lure are jewfish and snapper. Both of these species are renowned jerk shad crunchers, so it should come as no surprise that they are also big PaddlerZ fans. Both species love to hit a lure on the drop and this means that a lure with plenty of action on the sink is a big step in the right direction and something that a conventional jerk shad does not achieve.

In addition to my estuary exploits on my local Sydney systems, a recent camping trip up on the NSW mid-north coast was a true testament to the PaddlerZ incredible snapper and jewie catching ability. As I had not spent much time fishing for snapper in the past, we started the trip fishing a wide variety of lure styles. As it turned out, despite our best efforts we were consistently out-fished by the rod rigged up with a PaddlerZ and being worked by the swell in the holder! This was to the point that by the end of the trip we were running up to 6 rods at once, almost all rigged up with 4 and 5 inch PaddlerZ! This was achieved by running two drift chutes, to slow drift to a crawl and casting well ahead of our drift, before placing the rod in the holder and repeating with the other rods. Although we did have the odd tangle, the sound of 2, 3 or even 4 reels screaming off in unison made it more than worthwhile and we experienced some great snapper fishing, converting most of the snapper fishos in the campsite over to PaddlerZ with equally great results.

It was a similar story on the jewfish (mulloway), with the PaddlerZ offshore domination continuing onto the rocks, where we landed unprecedented numbers of mulloway on this lure. The shape of the Paddlerz lends itself ideally to being either hopped aggressively like a jerk shad or slow rolled like a paddle tail, a handy characteristic whilst fishing multiple spots in a single session.

This meant that no matter what the depth or bottom structure, we were able to continue fishing the same Jighead and plastic, keeping rigging time to a minimum. For instance, the same 5" PaddlerZ in Pearl colour, rigged on a 3/4oz 6/0 TT HeadlockZ HD Jighead, accounted for plenty of jewies while being hopped through the depths, but was equally at home slow rolled over wave lashed reef and boulders in less than 3 m of water, accounting for mulloway up to 124cm. Pretty versatile!

So, as you can probably tell, I can't get enough of the PaddlerZ for all the right reasons. They come in two sizes and a heap of colours to help you tackle whatever your species or conditions, have a killer action and most importantly, they absolutely smash the fish. Give them a shot, the fish might hate you for it... but I guarantee you'll love them!

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