Producing a new and innovative fishing lure has caught Z-Man the attention of fishermen all over the world.
Let’s say you are at a party and overhear the conversation of a knot of men huddled in a corner. Their faces are animated as they discuss the benefits of Bleeding Banana over Sexy Mullet; arguing the merits of Jerk Shadz’s excellent flutter presentation over the hopping action of Paddler-Z. Your first thought might be that you’ve stumbled into an X-Files episode. If you were a fish, however, you would find yourself irresistibly drawn to this romance language; one spoken regularly to those familiar with Z-Man, arguably the most ground-breaking and recognizable fishing lure brand in the world.
Based in Charleston for over 25 years, Z-Man was the offshoot of a silicon production company that made linings for brake shoes and silicon tape. A bass-fishing employee came up with the idea of splitting that tape to form a skirt for a spinner-bait fishing lure. Soon the company began providing components for fishing lures to other companies, bringing their cutting-edge technology to the formulation of the plastics lures. But in 2006, they were catapulted onto center stage when they took on the manufacturing and distribution of a new and innovative lure of their own. The ChatterBait line opened the door to a new era for Z-Man, and they have never looked back. Today, their consumer brand line continues to be the impetus behind more tournament money wins than any other lure.
At the same time, staying true to the company’s motto of “The Science and Art of Fishing,” Z-Man was also at work perfecting a new soft thermoplastic formula – one that would create a soft and pliable bait, resistant to cuts and tears. The result was 10X Tough ElaZtech®; a naturally buoyant, environmentally-friendly and non-toxic material, containing no PVC, plastisol or phthalates.
Teaming up with professional fishermen and local legends like Summerville’s inshore fishing guru Ralph Phillips has lent another dimension to what Z-Man brings to the sport by providing tackle perfectly matched to their bait. The Trout Eye™ jighead created by Phillips simulates the eye of baitfish with oversized 3-D eyeballs that provide a hard-to-miss target for seatrout, redfish, flounder, snook and other inshore gamefish. Super sharp keeper barbs securely hold the bait on high-quality Mustad® Ultrapoint® hooks. The appeal of Z-Man’s unique baits, accompanying terminal tackle and accessories has cast it right into the sweet spot and helped to make it one of the fastest-growing lure brands in the country.
At the manufacturing plant and warehouse in Ladson, SC, General Manager and Executive Vice President Daniel Nussbaum walks through the laboratory where the proprietary plastic is molded into thousands of incredibly life-like, colorful forms. At a quick glance, one might mistake the huge room for a candy store, and for fishermen, the comparison is not too far off the mark. Colors like Root Beer, Green Pumpkin Blue, Bubble Gum, PB&J and Watermelon Red deliver the perfect eye-candy for a variety of fish.
There are an almost endless number of shapes available. Boxes brim over with all manner of baitfish, bugs, and frogs, that hop, float on the top, sink to the bottom, vibrate, or paddle themselves at the end of a line. Testimonies from the team of Z-Man ProZ, as well as the Z-Man Squad of amateur anglers, confirm the research and science behind the brand.
“A Kansas fisherman reported catching 238 large-mouth bass, 6 crappie, 1 bluegill and 1 warmouth on a single 4” shortened Green Pumpkin Finesse worm,” Nussbaum says of one fresh-water angler’s declaration of his experience with one of Z-Man’s almost-indestructibly stretchy and durable products.
“We’re the only ones in the United States that are manufacturing lures out of thermoplastic,” Nussbaum says. “You’re much more likely to lose one than you are to ever tear one up.”
Though Z-Man still supplies silicon skirts to other manufacturers and handles some private labeling for other companies, the Z-Man brand is now the number one priority for the company. Every year they introduce about a dozen new products. With production and shipping all under one roof, the massive warehouse ships everything from an amateur fisherman’s order of 2 bags of worms, to huge orders for retailers and distributors for Bass Pro, Cabela’s, Walmart, Academy Sports and many others.
It is clear that Z-Man’s research, innovation and technology have not only produced a mouth-watering bait attracting every imaginable variety of fish, they have created for the Ladson company an irresistible lure for well-deserved success.
By Susan Frampton