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The Real Slam Shady

Nothing pings the ears of anglers quite so loudly as mere whispers of a hot bite. Sometimes, it's a tip about a top secret fishing hole that gets our juices flowing. Universally, though, discovering a hero lure color before your buddies proves especially powerful.

Consider this your daily news flash: Z-Man has minted a fresh new color you'll want to baptize in your favorite inshore spots, immediately. But before we divulge the goods, let's see how the whole thing went down . . .

Few years back, bros Joe and Luke Simonds quit their six-figure jobs to found SaltStrong.com, a community of hardcore inshore saltwater anglers whose nearly 20k members and 70k Facebook friends exchange inside information on hot bites, happening baits and other fish-centric scuttlebutt. In 2017, the crew's street cred rose to epic proportions when they posted a video of younger brother Luke catching a snook from a 3rd floor balcony during a business meeting. Within days, the video drew millions of eyeballs; suddenly, anglers everywhere wanted in on Salt Strong's secret recipe.

The Simonds' next mission was to create the ultimate bait color. So, like everything else they'd tackled in life, the brothers approached the challenge at 100-percent all-in mode. "We began by reading books such as Mark Sosin's Through the Fish's Eye and What Fish See, written by an optometrist," recalls Joe Simonds, who's business card simply reads, 'Ringleader.' "We wanted to know what fish see underwater and which colors are most desirable—what they truly perceive as food. Turns out white was that color—a chameleon of sorts; the only hue that both blends in and reflects the color of the water and its surroundings. We looked at baitfish and found that white was the one universal. Meanwhile, we ran a poll of our fourteen thousand members at the time, asking them to describe the ultimate paddletail swimbait color. By far, the most popular responses were white, pearl and silver and gold glitter."

A nod to a classic Eminem tune, the Simonds named the deeply-researched color Slam Shady. "It's a perfect fusion of everything we know about the colors and patterns fish see best and also like to eat—a translucent pearl base with silver and gold metal-flake," Simonds explains. "Slam Shady, man. And before long, Salt Strong members throwing this pattern had already caught 83 different salt- and freshwater species. We're talking redfish, snook, seatrout and flounder. But also, freshwater species like coho salmon, bass, walleye, pike. Slam Shady baits have accounted for so many inshore slams (redfish, speckled trout and flounder in one outing), we've almost lost count."

Z-Man now offers the exclusive Slam Shady pattern in numerous paddletail shapes, as well as the Scented Jerk ShadZ.

Simonds and his crew had experienced such electrifying results with Slam Shady-patterned paddletails that Salt Strong supporters rapidly burned through an initial custom run of four-thousand packs of 3-inch Z-Man MinnowZ™.

Immediate demand for the champion color prompted Z-Man to make Slam Shady available in other elite inshore baits: 4-inch DieZel MinnowZ™, 4- and 5-inch Scented Jerk ShadZ™ and 4- and 5-inch Scented PaddlerZ™, in addition to the 3-inch MinnowZ. For the first time, anglers everywhere can now find the phenomenal fish-catching color at their favorite fishing shops, including online outlets and at zmanfishing.com.

"In both salt- and freshwater, pearl colored ElaZtech soft plastics have always been one of our best-selling colors," notes Z-Man President Daniel Nussbaum. "But the addition of gold and silver mini-sparkles added to a translucent pearl base really set this color off and give it a visual appeal and realism that's off the charts. Since we partnered with Salt Strong, demand for this color has been huge—and we're thrilled it's now available through our dealer network and national chain accounts."

"Z-Man is the perfect partner for Salt Strong because they really understand how to make great baits, and that comes from living the life of an angler," adds Simonds. "ElaZtech baits are the softest, liveliest and yet most durable on the market—an almost inconceivable combination that serious anglers really appreciate."

Slam Shady patterned baits have accounted for more than eighty different species, including countless inshore slams.

Recognizing the wide array of waters in which the Slam Shady baits produce, the Simonds have assembled some intelligent tips on rigging the different baits and where to fish each. "The 3-inch MinnowZ has been the universal fish catcher. Fish eat it all year long and it catches everything that swims." For working shallow, a weighted hook such as the 3/0 ChinlockZ SWS™ is a perfect fit. In deeper water, try a 3/0 Texas Eye™ or Swimbait Eye™ jighead.

To match the larger baitfish of summer, slide up to a 4-inch DieZel MinnowZ and a 4/0 hook or jighead. To target big snook, reds or other species in late summer through fall, Simonds suggests a 5-inch Scented PaddlerZ matched with a 4/0 ChinlockZ SWS hook or Redfish Eye™ jighead. The weedless hook shines in shallow grass, while the jighead produces in slightly deeper water or for faster retrieve speeds.

Nussbaum and the whole Z-Man crew—passionate anglers to the core—share the Simonds' excitement for Slam Shady baits. "We've fished the Slam Shady color in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana and in all those places it just flat out produces lots of bites from redfish, snook, bass and flounder in all different water clarities and conditions. No one color is a fishing cure-all, but this checks a lot of boxes."

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