ICAST Trends: High-Tech Soft Baits

The Z-Man Pop ShadZ was a crowd favorite at the ICAST show this week. It's a soft-plastic topwater popping lure that can be rigged weedless with a wide-gap hook for fishing around thick cover.

ICAST lasts just three days, but taken in relevance, I think it is interesting to ponder the backstories, motivations and thought processes that led to the array of new products released to the sport-fishing industry this week.

ICAST - Soft Baits - Z-Man Pop Shadz - A unique spin on topwater poppers, this soft-plastic bait features a broad concave face, ample body for single wide-gap hook placement and a narrowing tail for lots of action. It's a good bet for swimming and popping over grassy habitat that would foul traditional poppers. ZManFishing.com

The soft-plastics category that I covered revealed a handful of notables that caught my eye with their creativity and innovations. Tops would have to be the Z-Man Pop ShadZ – a soft-plastic popper with good detail and the ability to go where other poppers dare not go.

“Conventional topwaters have treble hooks, so you can only fish them in certain areas; you can’t fish them over grass or lily pads,” says Tour pro Casey Martin. “This bait is different. You can rig it with a 5/0 to 6/0 hook, and it actually has a walking style but also spits water. So it’s perfect for where you’d fish a frog.

“One thing I like about this bait is that you have a better hookup ratio than a traditional topwater frog,” he adds. “Also, it’s made with Z-Man’s ElaZtech material, so it’s very durable and won’t tear up.”

ICAST - Soft Plastics - Z-Man Finesse T.R.D. - Offering anglers a smaller version of the popular ZinkerZ stick bait, the T.R.D. (The Real Deal) adds a unique dimpled tail texture to Z-Man's durable ElaZtech construction. At 2 3/4 inches, a T.R.D. is a good fit for a Z-Man Finesse Shroomz jighead. ZManFishing.com

Z-Man also introduced a 2 3/4-inch Finesse T.R.D. (The Real Deal) – essentially a scaled-down version of its popular ZinkerZ stick worm, with some texture enhancements. For years, anglers have bitten off sections of ZinkerZ for small finesse presentations, but now the T.R.D. offers a tiny soft-plastic stick bait that’s ready to roll right out of the bag. Maybe Z-Man was concerned about the impacts of its ElaZtech material on tooth enamel, but it was a handy move anyway.

Also impressive was the Kahara KJ Crank, which combines the soft body and double hook common to a topwater frog with the bill of a square-bill crankbait. The result is a bait that can hunt along the bottom, but will also pull easily through light vegetation.

I watched this bait in action during pre-ICAST testing, and it slides through grass with ease. I like that the bait includes a rear attachment point that accommodates a treble hook for open-water applications

Some companies turned to unique shapes for their new releases. For example, Imakatsu debuted the Gill Bone – a soft-plastic flipping/pitching bait made to resemble a fish skeleton with a solid, narrow neck for hook placement.

Elsewhere, if a traditional lizard mated with a creature bait, their offspring would probably resemble the Jackall Scissor Comb. Long and slender, this motion-heavy bait features lanky antennae and four pairs of short legs that face forward. The legs grab water for a constant shimmy that’ll drive fish nuts on a Texas or Carolina rig.

"The way those little appendages are positioned, they'll cause the bait to wiggle more," said Repel pro Cody Meyer, who staffed the Jackall booth all week.

Sebile is always one to watch for innovations, and the company’s new Pivot Frog did not disappoint. Replacing the standard double hook with a single weighted hook that pivots upward on the strike instantly increases the potential for better hookups by creating that all-important gap between the plastic and the hook.


Lastly, I liked the SpoolTek swimbait (6- and 9-inch models), which features a soft, active tail that links to a solid ABS head. The head contains a spool wound with a heavy leader that’s connected to a single J-hook. On the strike, pressure from the fish releases the spool’s tension device and allows the foot-long leader to play out behind the bait. This eliminates the fish’s ability to leverage the mass of a large lure body to throw the hook.

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-05-19-missed-opportunities-at-beaver-lake

Missed Opportunities at Beaver Lake

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-14-2015-flw-tv-schedule

2015 FLW TV Schedule

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-12-strader-maintains-lead-at-halfway-mark

Strader Maintains Lead At Halfway Mark

Midway through the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, Tennessee pro Wes Strader is in first place in the Angler of the Year race, and his prospects for winning it are as good as anyone’s. Two upcoming events, at lakes Eufaula and Chickamauga, “fish” in a way that suits his style, and he has a good track record on the Potomac River, the last Tour stop of 2015. A good finishing kick could earn the veteran his first AOY title. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-10-mother-of-ramie-colson-jr-passes

Mother of Ramie Colson Jr. Passes

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-07-community-outreach-sportsmanship-award-

Community Outreach (Sportsmanship Award)

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-06-tornadoes-sweep-across-oklahoma

Tornadoes Sweep Across Oklahoma

2014 Rayovac FLW Series Champion Zack Birge, whose appears in the Central Division Tournament on Kentucky Lake was cut short by tornados at his home town in Oklahoma, characterized the damage to his house as “a near miss.” READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-05-weekend-wrap-up-may-4-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – May 4, 2015

This weekend saw history being made at the Rayovac level. Plus, it was a bush- and flipping-filled BFL Saturday and the College Fishing ranks produced some Guntersville giants. Here’s a recap of last weekend’s tournament action. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-01-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with six tournaments on Saturday, May 2. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-30-flw-raises-88k-for-charity

FLW Raises $88K for Charity

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-29-20-questions-with-ray-hanselman

20 Questions with Ray Hanselman

Ray Hanselman is on fire. The Del Rio, Texas, pro won back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments to start the 2015 season. His first win was in February on Lake Amistad, which is Hanselman’s home lake and where he runs a guide service. His second win came last week on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-26-queen-and-black-crowned-high-school-fishing-champs

Queen and Black Crowned High School Fishing Champs

Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black of the North Carolina Student Angler Federation won the 2015 SAF High School Fishing National Championship on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Queen and Black bested a field of the 10 best High School Fishing teams in the two-day competition. They caught 17 pounds, 2 ounces on Saturday to make it to today’s final round of five teams in second place. Then today, the Tar Heel State’s best backed it up with 17-15 to surpass Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom, the day-one-leaders, by 4 pounds, 6 ounces with a two-day total of 35-01. Queen and Black earned a $10,000 scholarship for their win. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-keenom-yates-grab-high-school-lead

Keenom, Yates Grab High School Lead

Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom sacked a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to top the leaderboard on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black are hot on their heels in second with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-a-high-school-fishing-grand-finale

A High School Fishing Grand Finale

Adrenaline and optimism were running high among the 19 young guns gathered at Wolf Creek Park as they anxiously awaited takeoff on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Set for April 25-26 on the legendary Sooner impoundment, the championship pits the nation’s top 10 two-person high school teams in an all-out bass battle for the national title and a $10,000 college scholarship. One contestant, Cameron Pappan, is fishing solo. The road to the finals began in 2014, with state and open championships leading to one of five conference finals, then ultimately to Grand Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-21-weekend-wrap-up-april-21-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – April 21, 2015

With the College Fishing National Championship and the kickoff of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division going on, this past weekend was pretty hotly anticipated. Lucky for fishing fans, it sure lived up to the billing. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-18-grand-lake-midday-update-day-3

Grand Lake Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-17-grand-lake-midday-update

Grand Lake Midday Update

As the second day of competition in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake draws on, the sight-fishing bite is still strong, but day-one leader Todd Castledine has been unable to capitalize thus far. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-grand-lake-day-1-midday-update

Grand Lake Day 1 Midday Update

GROVE, Okla. – After the fog delay stalled action on day one of the Central Division opener on Grand Lake the anglers are now enjoying perfect weather for sight-fishing. Lingering light fog and clouds gave way to calm, sunny conditions this afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-15-weekend-wrap-up-april-13-2015

Weekend Wrap-up – April 13, 2015

The week after the Easter break turned out to be pretty spectacular. We saw incredible feats at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn and the FLW College Fishing event on Table Rock. Plus, BFL competition was hot across the country. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-college-fishing-takes-on-table-rock

College Fishing Takes on Table Rock

KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Table Rock Lake April 11 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Central Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the Central Conference Championship tournament. READ MORE »