Z-Man FattyZ

Getting the Most Out of the Z-Man FattyZ
For starters, as a form of stick-bait, the FattyZ falls into an incredibly effective soft-bait category, but it offers lots of extras.

Brian Latimer fishing the FattyZ

From Z-Man Pro Brian Latimer
from The Fishing Wire

About a year ago, I made a YouTube video titled “This is My Favorite Soft Plastic!!!” The piece showcased my love affair with the Z-Man FattyZ, how to fish it, and why I’ve found it so incredibly appealing in a variety of finesse situations. Over 26,000 views later, my take on the matter hasn’t changed; I can’t get enough of this bait.

Let’s start by investigating why this bait is my favorite from an analytic standpoint. For starters, as a form of stick-bait, the FattyZ falls into an incredibly effective soft-bait category. As we all know, it’s hard to beat that shape when the chips are down, for just about any species of bass. But, unlike other stick-baits, the FattyZ has a few unique characteristics.

First off, the body has a slight taper with a plump tail, rather than being perfectly straight, so the FattyZ has a little different fall than the rest. Being made from ElaZtech, it’s incredibly soft and subtle, but the FattyZ contains a good bit of salt – enough where the bait lies at a 45-degree angle on the bottom, rather than just resting straight up. Any rod movement gives the FattyZ a little “wag”.

Just as important – the FattyZ has a hook pocket. More about that in a minute.

I rig the FattyZ a variety of ways depending on the job at hand but do the bulk of my damage with a snag-free method; sort of a Texas-rigged shaky head. Here, I employ the Power Finesse ShroomZ jighead.

In my mind, the FattyZ / Power Finesse ShroomZ combination is a match made in heaven. They just seem to fit together. That head features a 3/0, forged hook – not a thin wire, so common in finesse-style jigs. That’s important, because I regularly put the bait in places where a lighter hook would fail.

As I mentioned, the FattyZ has a hook slot, which comes in handy for my hooking method. Just like standard Texas rigging, I pierce the tip of the bait on my hookpoint, come back out, and thread the lure up the shank of the ShroomZ. I spin the bait around and re-insert the hook into the slot. Now I’ve got a weedless shaky head and, because of that narrow hook slot, I can easily penetrate the bait without using a bulky, wide gap hook.

I choose a 1/5- or 1/6-ounce Power Finesse ShroomZ, depending on depth and wind. The jighead rests perfectly against the FattyZ and features a wire keeper to hold the bait up. A tiny drop of superglue ensures the bait will never slide down the hookshank. Ever.

The whole package is smooth and slender, so it slides through cover easily, and doesn’t get hung up. That’s a big key – especially around boat docks and cables; places where a normal worm rig just can’t make it through. Hence the need for that stout hook: if I hook a big fish, I need to move him away from the cover quick, before he can break my line. It’s important that my hook doesn’t flex.

After a bunch of trial and error, I’ve settled on one specific tackle combo for fishing this rig: a 7’1″ Favorite Sick Stick rod, twenty-pound test braid, and a ten-pound fluoro leader. Regardless of water depth or the type of bass I’m after, I use only one color FattyZ; Green Pumpkin Blue Flake. It’s that good.

Most of my fishing throughout the Carolinas takes place on lakes with fairly clear water and little heavy cover. It’s mainly boat docks, small stick-ups and laydowns, walkways, maybe seawalls, and stumps. Here, I can pick up a weedless-rigged FattyZ and never put it down. It catches every species and size of bass.

One more tip: to catch the highest percentage of bites, employ a “pull set” with this rig. Hammering the hook home will do no good – it’s better to lean into the fish and not give it any slack. That ensures the needle-point tip of the ShroomZ gets started into the fish’s mouth – his pulling back and struggling will drive it home. Just pull into the fish, and let it fight against the rod. You’ll quickly see why the FattyZ still lays claim to my title as favorite soft plastic.

Brian Latimer
Z-Man Pro-Staff