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Z-man Report

Z-man Mini MaxZ-man Mini Max

Behind the scenes, even before anglers tasted success with the ChatterBait JackHammer and its now-legendary bass vibes, the Z-Man architects were already on the water and at the whiteboard, conceiving the next phase of the bladed bass jig. On the magnum end of the hex-blade spectrum, Z-Man pro Bryan Thrift constructed the rod-pulsing Big Blade™ ChatterBait.

Z-Man champion Luke Clausen sang a different bass-attracting tune— a little ditty dedicated to small-fry forage, JackHammer-level lure quality and a slightly different vibe.

The ChatterBait MiniMax is already being heralded as an intelligent fish catching design with bulletproof componentry.

“One of our primary goals in designing the MiniMax was to give anglers a high-performance bladed jig in a compact package that handles big bruiser smallmouths and 5-pound-plus largemouths just as effortlessly as the JackHammer,” says Clausen. “When you examine the MiniMax’s hook, blade, skirt, and overall design, its pro-grade construction comes shining through.”

Bladed Jig Dissection

A tournament-quality bladed jig in a bite-size package, the ChatterBait MiniMax employs a premium heavy-duty 2/0 black-nickel hook for easy jaw penetration and maximum holding power. Dual molded conical keeper barbs lock soft plastic trailers tight to the jig. While wire-tied silicone skirts extend the life of each vibrant strand, even when big bass wolf it down.

As Clausen further explains, the ChatterBait MiniMax performs new and different bladed jig presentations, made possible by the lure’s subtle, refined frame.

“Tie on a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce MiniMax, burn it across shallow water—like, 1 to 2 feet—and watch how bass react,” suggests Clausen, winner of both the Bassmaster Classic and the Forrest Wood (FLW) Cup Championship. “You can get tricky with lure moves, too, such as random juking and slashing, by altering the cadence of your retrieve.”

Another way to produce different motions—and most anglers overlook this—is to closely consider your ElaZtech® trailer of choice. More trailer action means wider lure wobble and usually, a slower retrieve speed. More streamlined trailers, on the other hand, allow for that high-frequency wobble and faster, burner retrieves.”

Trailers Equal Action

For supreme versatility, Clausen’s ace choice is a 3-inch Z-Man Slim SwimZ™. “The Slim SwimZ’ slender profile and sensitive paddletail play right into the hands of the MiniMax’s high-frequency vibration and shimmering action. The trailer’s tail adds just a bit of extra thump and lure action. Fish it fast, slow or in between. It’s a really forgiving bait.”

Luke ClausenLuke Clausen

When Clausen takes the MiniMax deep—a perfectly feasible presentation with the downsized bladed jig—he selects a StreakZ™ 3.75, a soft, split-tail jerkbait.

“One of the coolest MiniMax patterns I’ve fished is working the lure over the top of brushpiles in 15 to 20 feet of water for big smallmouth and spotted bass,” offers Clausen.

“With the ½-ounce size and the combined low water resistance of the MiniMax blade and StreakZ trailer, I can work deeper without the bait planning toward the surface. And because the StreakZ isn’t working against you, resistance-wise, you can get more erratic with stops and goes—making the MiniMax dive off to one side or the other—an awesome big fish trigger.”

Interestingly, for burning the bait fast over shallow grass or rocky flats, Clausen again opts for the Slim SwimZ or StreakZ—each offering less water resistance and a more streamlined swim. “Try burning the bait fast and then give a sudden pause. Watch what happens to the MiniMax when you do this—big erratic jukes, left and right. Awesome maneuver for closing the deal on a following fish.”

For retrieving the MiniMax at a moderate-fast clip, Clausen appreciates the extra thump and added profile of the Baby GOAT™, a 3-inch creature bait with twin paddletails. “You can rig it vertical or horizontal and achieve different actions,” notes Clausen. “I’m a fan of vertical rigging, which gives you the extra vibration of two thumper-tails at once, while showing bass a nice baitfish profile. Or you can really slow down your retrieve or go deeper by rigging the Baby GOAT horizontally for a nice slow rate of fall—especially with the ¼- or 3/8-ounce lure size.

Alternative Applications

“And don’t overlook the MiniMax as a dock-skipping bait,” he adds. “I think you’ll find that this little bladed jig is pretty user friendly for skipping, especially with ElaZtech trailers.”

Finally, notes Clausen, for big Florida bass or on other pressured largemouth lakes, the MiniMax has become a top situational bladed jig choice

“Think of the MiniMax almost as a downsized version of the JackHammer,” he suggests. “The ¼-ounce MiniMax fishes a bit like a 3/8-ounce JackHammer, etc. Yeah, it’s also a sweet small water or pond bait. But don’t think for a minute it can’t handle the biggest water or the toughest bass that come to eat it.”

The MiniMax comes in three sizes — ¼-, 3/8- and ½-ounce—and eight elite skirt patterns are color-matched to each jighead. Suggested retail is $8.99 each. For more information, visit www.zmanfishing.com.