The Little Minnow That Could

The Little Minnow That Could

Jul 01, 2024
New Product

New Z-Man® Drop KickerZ™ vibes on innovative tail sculpt, sonar-friendly tactics

LADSON, SC – (July 2, 2024) – Finesse is an ongoing experiment. At Z-Man, it’s a perpetual push through the boundaries of what’s possible with soft plastic shapes and the devices that drive bait propulsion and action. Simultaneously, it’s a continuous exploration of the outer limits of ElaZtech® itself, that ethereal softbait formula that performs impossible feats of underwater motion, while bouncing back with the resiliency of a rottweiler chew toy.

Checking all these boxes and drawing beyond the bounds of tradition, the new Z-Man® Drop KickerZ™ endows creative anglers with a sneaky little finesse trick—an extra supple baitfish-profile exhibiting equal talents as a soft jerkbait, swimbait or forward-facing sonar minnow.

“First time Z-Man put a pack of Drop KickerZ in my hands, I couldn’t wait to put the bait on a dropshot rig,” says Z-Man pro-staff angler Stephanie Hemphill-Pellerin. “As I quickly discovered, the little finesse minnow shines in dropshot scenarios. And I absolutely love it on a Ned rig, too, threaded onto my favorite finesse jig, the NedlockZ™ EWG.

“But I also discovered the bait’s talents apply equally to live sonar applications,” adds Hemphill-Pellerin, a Texas based bass pro. “The Drop KickerZ’ buoyancy, slim minnow shape and specialized tail-driven action all combine to perform beautifully on forward-facing sonar— and while hover strolling. Rig the Drop KickerZ on a Finesse EyeZ™ jighead to optimize bites on Livescope—dropping it just above groups of fish, leaning on the little minnow’s tireless tail-wag to ‘talk’ bass into biting.”

Drop KickerZ

The new Z-Man Drop KickerZ (shown in 'Twilight' pattern.)

Z-Man pro Luke Clausen offers another Drop KickerZ option: “This year, we threw this bait on the back of a ChatterBait® MiniMax™ and it was absolutely killer for big smallmouths,” notes the versatile Major League Fishing / Bass Pro Tour angler. “So much action; just a super cool little minnow bait."

Slender, extra soft and built for subtle, yet continuous tail motion, the Z-Man Drop KickerZ offers bite-inducing benefits in abundance. “The tail’s the differentiator,” notes Jose Chavez, Z-Man Director of Product Development. “As longtime leaders in the finesse bait arena, we believe the next progression in tail-driven bait design—beyond the universal paddle tail— is toward a more bulbous, wedge-shaped structure.”

Chavez describes the exclusive Z-Man design and its compelling action. “The shape and thickness of this tail piece enables it to engage and swim at the slowest speeds possible. It’s not the same exaggerated wobbling action you get from a paddletail, but rather more of a subtle, low frequency wag, without all the excessive body roll that can turn fish off.” This cutting-edge tail sculpt, Chavez notes, allows the bait to pulse and throw vibes equally across lateral lines and sonar transducers. “The tail wags and thumps effortlessly, whether on the upstroke, drop and straight swim,” he says.

Drop KickerZ

Drop KickerZ rigging options (T to B): NedlockZ EWG jighead, OG Mushrooom, dropshot rig, Finesse EyeZ jighead.

Lined with prominent body ribbing, the Drop KickerZ’ belly section produces subtle bubble trails and underwater pulsations, enabling fish to better detect and locate the bait. Topside, concave dorsal grooves support the bait’s crisp action on the lift, while its ribs produce a slightly different motion when it descends. “This is a cool, overlooked advantage over other finesse baits in that bass see a delicately different look throughout the retrieve, which gives fish the impression of random motion,” adds Chavez.

To enable quick, dead-on rigging with a jighead or EWG-style hook, the Drop KickerZ offers dorsal and ventral hook slots. The bait is also impregnated with 20-percent salt (by weight) for a natural horizontal posture on dropshot or hover-strolling rigs.

Landing on tackle store pegs in August, the Z-Man Drop KickerZ features two sizes—a diminutive 2.75-incher and a slightly upsized 3.5-inch profile—to cover a broad spectrum of applications, from hover strolling and FFS patterns to Ned and dropshot rigging and beyond. Injected in 10 hand-picked color patterns by Z-Man pros, the Drop KickerZ covers diverse fisheries and an array of conditions. MSRP $4.99 per 6-pack (2.75”) or 5-pack (3.5”)—crafted and packaged in the USA. For more intel, visit or see it in action at the 2024 ICAST show, booth #4808. 

Drop KickerZ

A monster 7-pound smallmouth bass inhaled a Drop KickerZ during field testing.

Z-Man Fishing Products