Over the last decade or more, the variety of plastics on the Australian market has exploded to the point where we are now spoilt with options.
One of the big players in recent years has been the Z-Man brand imported by Tackle Tactics. These are not just another plastic; they are made with a revolutionary type of plastic called Elaztech, which can stretch up to 10 times their own length. Z-Man plastics are soft, yet durable and can even withstand the onslaught of numerous toothy critters. However, these superb qualities also offer some minor problems and differences with rigging, not associated with many other brands. These glitches are easily overcome with a few minor rigging adjustments offering superb action, durability and productivity.
Elaztech, the material from which Z-Mans are made from, is somewhat different to many other soft plastic compounds. Apart from being highly stretchy and durable, Elaztech is also very reactive with other plastic types. Z-Man plastics can interfere with most plastic types when stored with them, disintegrating into a solid, gluggy mess within a few days. They will also react with the plastic many tackle boxes (even worm-proof plastics) are blow-moulded from, making the stowaway box lids warp slightly. For this reason, it is best to store your Z-Mans in the clip-seal plastic packets in which they are purchased. These packets can then be stored in one of the deeper stowaway boxes.
When initially trying to push the plastic over the moulded lead keeper, the head of the plastic will invert slightly, rolling up the keeper when pushed forward and then back off the keeper when you remove the pressure. To solve this problem you will need to apply pressure a little more directly.
Many Zman plastics have a slit in the bottom. By putting your hand inside this slit with your thumb and forefinger positioned around the hook shank and keeper, then pushing the plastic up onto the keeper, you will be able to get the plastic snug with the jighead. Plastics without the slit will need to be pushed extra firmly so the plastic initially bunches up against the head and then recoils as the pressure is decreased, leaving the plastic straight and even on the keeper. With shad styles, this will leave the hook protruding downwards out of the slit .
To finish the rigging, turn the plastic 180° so that the hook point is now facing upwards. The rear of the hook bend will give you an indication where the hook points needs to be penetrated up through the back.
Keeping a mental note of this penetration point, bend the back of the plastic and push the point through the back centrally at this mark.
The plastic should be presented on the jighead straight so that it will swim true.
Due to the nature of the Elaztech, Z-Man plastics are often easier to pull off the jighead than they are to put on. This means that a strike to the rear of the plastic may easily pull the plastic back along the jighead where it will bunch up and will now not swim as intended. However, there are two solutions to this problem. Tackle Tactics have produced a special jighead for Z-Man plastics called HeadlockZ.
Before doing this, I will generally attach the jighead to the leader with a loop knot so that I do not have to actually hold the plastic or jighead with my hands while the glue dries, because it is easy to stick these fast to your hands with these types of glues if you are not careful or have applied a little too much adhesive in the first place.
These simple rigging options will guarantee that you get the best out of your Z- Man soft plastics when rigging them on jigheads. They will be functional, durable and productive for you. In a future issue we will look at some weedless rigging options for many of the shad
The HeadlockZ has a slightly larger hook keeper, which is separated from the main head.
Because the HeadlockZ having a thicker hook keeper, they can make some of the Z-Man range a little puffy around the head, therefore some anglers still prefer to use conventional jigheads. If you choose to use a standard jighead, or don’t have HeadlockZ at your disposal then you can still solve the problem of the hook pulling back along the hook. After inserting the hook and rigging your plastic in the aforementioned, conventional manner, pull the plastic back a little to expose the keeper. Apply a small amount of super glue, Zap-a-Gap or Loctite to the moulded hook keeper and the flat rear part of the head. Push the plastic forward again and allow a few seconds for the glue to cure.
Using either of the aforementioned methods, now even when the plastic tail is stretched considerably, the body of the Z-Man will not slide back on the hook shank.Reads: 3498