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Grip and Grin

The unimaginably malleable-yet-tough composition of Z-Man's ElaZtech gives anglers the power to do some cool and slightly crazy things. Want cool? Try catching over a hundred bass on a single bait. How about crazy? Slide and stretch any ElaZtech bait over a ChinlockZ SWS keel-weighted swimbait hook with nary a worry about tearing the material. Now, do the same thing with a standard plastic bait . . . major rippage, man.

Renowned for its original ChatterBait® Bladed Jigs and earth-shattering ElaZtech baits, Z-Man has increasingly become a go-to source for innovative jigs and hooks, as well. Among its expanded rigging repertoire, Z-Man's ChinlockZ SWS weighted hooks now sport five new sizes, made to match virtually all ElaZtech swimbaits, flukes and any other worm, craw or stickbait you want to mount on its heavy-duty Mustad® UltraPoint® EWG hook.

Previously available in 10/0 and 12/0 sizes to match mega baits such as Z-Man's 10" HeroZ™, 8" Mag SwimZ™ and 8" StreakZ™, ChinlockZ SWS hooks now include 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 6/0 and 8/0 sizes, available with 1/12- to ½-ounce keel weights.

Headlining the ChinlockZ SWS weighted swimbait hook is an unobtrusive, precision-cut keeper barb. Molded straight to the shaft, the little keeper locks baits into place and keeps them expertly aligned. Pierce the ElaZtech bait of your choice and slide it right over the weight and up the hook. Unlike other soft plastics, Z-Man baits won't tear or fall off the hook, eliminating the biggest hassle known to swimbait rigging.

"The ChinlockZ is a guide's best friend," says famed Florida inshore guide, Captain C.A. Richardson. "If I had to use traditional screw-lock style hooks with standard soft plastics, we'd waste way too much time, constantly rigging and switching out torn baits.

"Fished with a Z-Man Jerk ShadZ or DieZel MinnowZ, the ChinlockZ hook takes two seconds to rig and pins the bait tightly in place," Richardson explains. "Even when we're getting bit by tough, mean saltwater species, we just don't burn through that many baits."

Richardson, who targets everything from tarpon to snook to trout and redfish, stocks a good selection of large and small ChinlockZ hooks among packs of ElaZtech. "On those grey days, or when the water's a little dirty, we do a lot of blind casting with a 7-inch Jerk ShadZ pinned to a 10/0 ChinlockZ. Big tarpon do everything they can to destroy it, and we have a ton of fun watching them try. The ultra-sharp EWG hook seems to plant itself perfectly in the corner of the fish's tough jaw, every time."

When the tarpon run ends, Richardson and clients pursue big snook, redfish and speckled trout, frequently pitching combos like a 5-inch Jerk ShadZ on a 6/0 ChinlockZ hook, 4-inch Jerk ShadZ on a 3/0 ChinlockZ or a 4-inch DieZel MinnowZ on a 4/0 ChinlockZ. Richardson even offers a few of his own exclusive custom DieZel MinnowZ colors.

"These baits get consistent bites from snook and trout around dock lights in evenings or around wash-out channels during the day," notes Richardson. "Burn the Jerk ShadZ back to the boat, throwing in constant rodtip twitches as you reel. With the paddle-tailed DieZel, count it to depth and reel faster than normal. The rear-positioned keel weight makes both baits shimmy as they fall in a nice, natural horizontal posture."

On the freshwater front, Major League Fishing Tour angler Stephen Browning keeps a 5-inch DieZel MinnowZ rigged on a 6/0 ChinlockZ SWS hook at all times. "The ChinlockZ gives us an easy-to-rig swimbait hook that keeps the bait perfectly aligned for maximum performance and hook-setting efficiency," says Browning.

From 2/0 to 12/0, the ChinlockZ SWS hook pins and holds a full spectrum of ElaZtech baits, for the perfect presentation.

"Throwing the DieZel-and-ChinlockZ combo around flooded cover is a no-brainer. Cast it out and slow roll the bait back, just ticking grass or brush tops, 8 to 15 feet below the surface. One trick is to add a 1/8- or ¼-ounce tungsten bullet weight ahead of the hook for a slightly faster drop-speed."

Browning also utilizes the ChinlockZ for rigging a Big TRD or ZinkerZ. "The buoyancy of these baits is offset by the ChinlockZ' belly weight, which gives the bait a beautiful horizontal drop," he says. "These ElaZtech stickbaits shimmy and wiggle subtly as they sink.

"More and more anglers are realizing the incredible efficiency and appeal of ElaZtech, particularly as Z-Man arms us with the right rigging tools for the job."

The most user-friendly swimbait hook today, new sizes of the Z-Man TT Lures ChinlockZ SWS will be available in July. Built on heavy-duty Mustad UltraPoint EWG hooks, 2- or 3-packs will retail for $7.99 MSRP. For more information, visit www.zmanfishing.com, or stop by Z-Man booth #5118 at ICAST 2019.

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