Classic Winning Bait Gets a Baby Brother

Classic Winning Bait Gets a Baby Brother

Jun 19, 2023

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Jeff Gustafson with a fish in his hand

Classic Winning Bait Gets a Baby Brother
'Best of all-time' Z-Man® Scented Jerk ShadZ™ to be released in a refined 3.5" version.


Ladson, SC (June 13, 2023) – A cool half mill' and a bookcase crowded with shiny bass trophies ain't a bad haul for a single unassuming softbait. "Over the last six or seven years, the 4-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ has produced some great tournament wins, from 150 boat derbies around my home waters in Ontario all the way to the Tennessee River," notes Z-Man pro Jeff "Gussy" Gustafson, who boated every one of his 2023 Bassmaster Classic winning bass on the same exceptional softbait. "Crazy to consider I've now won well over half a million dollars on the Jerk ShadZ alone."

But overshadowed by dock-talk surrounding Gussy's "best bait of all time," whispers of a little secret have gradually leaked out. "During the 2023 Classic, when the bite got tough, I downsized to a slightly shortened bait to show bass a smaller, sub-4-inch profile," he divulged. "Over the years, this modified Jerk ShadZ has tricked a bunch of critical smallmouths and certainly helped me secure the Classic win. Actually, whenever conditions get tough, a downsized bait can be a bigtime difference maker."

So, when Z-Man recently put a new, finesse-sized 3.5-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ in Gussy's hands, he was understandably excited.

"Really happy about adding the new, fingerling-sized Jerk ShadZ to my bag of tricks," he admitted. "Many times, a minor adjustment in bait size can spur a major uptick in bites. During cold fronts or heavy fishing pressure, just a small tweak can produce bigtime. Sometimes, bass that hesitate to bite a bigger offering will entirely inhale a slightly smaller bait. It's like switching focus from one baitfish year class to a smaller or younger one; works because it's a better match for natural, prevailing forage.

Gussy's blue glimmer scented jerk shadz

Z-Man's new 3.5" Scented Jerk ShadZ - Gussy's Blue Glimmer.

"Gotta mention, too, that walleyes really like a slightly smaller bait. On a jighead, the new Jerk ShadZ will be a natural 'eye producer, anywhere you throw it."

On the surface, a half inch haircut might not sound significant. But shrink and re-scale the entire head, torso and tail proportionally and you're immediately casting a beautiful little baitfish snack. Decidedly downsized from its 4-inch brethren, the new 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ appeals to predators keyed on young shad, shiners, smelt and other minnow species.

An optimal match for interactive live-sonar style fishing, Gussy believes the new, subtler Jerk ShadZ will see extended playing time and a growing role in the coming season— from vertically 'finesse moping' on a jighead to dropshot rigging to working weedless or pitching docks with a 2/0 weedless hook.

Jeff Gustafson with a fish hold

Gussy says the new smaller Scented Jerk ShadZ will see extended playing time for walleye as well as bass.

For saltwater anglers up on the trend toward Ned-rig sized inshore baits, the 3.5" Jerk ShadZ delivers an intriguing offering. "Particularly in the spring, or after coldfronts, the new runt-sized Jerk ShadZ offers a bite-sized snack for tricking redfish, tough snook and selective trout," notes Z-Man pro and FlatsClass TV's Captain C.A. Richardson. "Rig it weedless or Texposed on a 2/0 ChinlockZ SWS™ hook or a free-swinging Texas Eye™ Finesse Jighead for two different looks and actions.

"With the ChinlockZ, you get a nice horizontal fall, and then a cool subsurface walking action when you twitch it and throw slack," Richardson explains. "Works superb for skipping docks for snook, too. For a smaller soft jerkbait, the 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ just has some killer moves, including a tail that never stops kicking and quivering, even at rest."

3" scented Jerk ShadZ (bottom) and 5" scented Jerk ShadZ (top).

The new 3.5" Scented Jerk ShadZ (bottom) offers discerning bass a slightly smaller bite.

To celebrate its inaugural immersion, the Z-Man 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ will wear two new stunning, forage-matching color patterns (also available in the 4- and 5-inch Jerk ShadZ.) A tip-of-the-hat to one of Gustafson's all-time favorite patterns, Gussy's Glimmer Blue hums with a subtle sparkle and glow. "For smallmouths, largemouths and spotted bass almost everywhere I've fished, this is a superlative color," he reveals. "The Jerk ShadZ' ElaZtech® composition really puts the shine on this pattern. It's just one of those fish catchers that give me confidence. In slightly stained or tannic-colored waters, too, Glimmer Blue puts out a nice underwater glow that gets eaten consistently."

Another dazzler, Electric Shad is a proven pattern making its ElaZtech bait debut. "This is a color that's proven itself in many top swimbaits," notes Gussy. "It's a great, natural addition to the family—one of nearly 40 Jerk ShadZ bait colors."

A soft and lively yet inconceivably durable jerkbait, the new 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZadds a petite baitfish profile to the ever-popular ElaZtech series, currently consisting of 4-, 5- and 7-inch sizes. Molded with a high-action split tail and belly hook-slot for easy weedless rigging and solid hooksets. Packed with two layers of powerful scent and flavor, the 3.5-inch Jerk ShadZ is both salt impregnated and marinated with 100-percent natural Pro-Cure Super Gel attractant. Slated for release in October, the Scented Jerk ShadZ is made in the USA. For more information, visit

"Z-Man's Jerk ShadZ has earned a lot of tournament cash. No doubt, it will go down as my personal best bait of all time."

Jeff Gustafson hoisting his Bassmaster Classic Trophie.

(Photo by James Overstreet / B.A.S.S.)