The possibilities make casting arms twitch with confidence: a snag-shedding jighead with built-in articulation and action. Z-Man Fishing, known for its patented ChatterBait® bladed jigs and next-generation ElaZtech softbaits, has in recent years also become a go-to source for smart, versatile jigheads. The new Texas Eye Jighead might be the progressive tackle company’s most innovative design to date. Melding a weedless Texas rig with a free-pivoting jighead, the Texas Eye gives anglers an unbeatable one-two punch..
“For fishing through thick grass, the Texas Eye is already the ultimate redfish jig,” says Mark Cowart, an exceptional Florida based angler who claimed 8th and 2nd place finishes at the final two IFA Redfish tournaments of the 2018 season. “The Texas Eye is the only jighead my son (Captain Michael Cowart) and I threw during the last two IFA events. Reasons are simple: the jig’s unbelievably weedless and gives our favorite Z-Man baits a ton of lifelike movement.”
At the 2016 ICAST show, the Cowarts met Ralph Phillips and Dave Fladd, jig-designing maestros of the original Eye Strike® Jig— a classic inshore jighead. “Mark and Michael explained to us exactly what they wanted in a weedless jighead,” recalls Fladd. “They gave us specific design suggestions that served as a blueprint for building the perfect tournament jigs. The Weedless Eye has become a staple in anglers’ arsenals. But the new Texas Eye might be even better.”
“The Weedless Eye remains the ideal jig for search-fishing around oyster beds and sparse marsh grass,” notes Cowart. “But for super-demanding presentations—spooky, selective redfish and heavier grass in places like the Louisiana marsh— we needed a tool that took things to the next level.”
Fladd, an optical engineer, acknowledges that the design goal of the Texas Eye was to build a fresh- and saltwater jig that married the snag-immunity of a Texas rig with the frenetic movements of a free-swinging jighead.
Phillips, a pioneering saltwater angler and one of the early inshore guides in the Charleston, South Carolina area, built his original jigs to maximize what he calls the “eye factor.” “I learned years ago while fishing offshore that the most productive lures, by far, were those sporting large accentuated eyes,” observed Phillips. “Predator fish of all kinds key on the eyes of their prey like no other anatomical feature.
“It’s why the Texas Eye Jighead starts with a set of oversized eyeballs.”
From there, the team fleshed out the other critical details: an up-angled eyelet for heads-up bait posture during the retrieve; a flat-sided, planing head for stability and a spoon-like swimming motion; a tapered, streamlined angle to the eyelet for natural grass deflection. Rather than affixed permanently to the hook, the Texas Eye Jighead connects loosely to a free-swinging 3/0 VMC® hook for maximum movement of the trailing bait.
“Unlike other swing-heads,” says Fladd, “our line-tie is positioned above the centerline, presenting the jig’s oversized eyes horizontally and swimming the soft plastic trailer in a natural, heads-up position. At rest on bottom, buoyant ElaZtech baits rise, tail up—a totally natural posture.”
Molded to the hook, a streamlined “hangnail” bait-keeper pins ElaZtech and other softbaits to the base of the jighead. Fladd and Cowart built it to make rigging quick and easy. Moreover, the black nickel hook is sized to match most Z-Man ElaZtech profiles. Fladd suggests marrying the Texas Eye Jighead with a Swimmin’ Trout Trick, Trout Trick Jerk ShrimpZ, DieZel MinnowZ, 3” MinnowZ or 4” Scented Jerk ShadZ.
“The Texas Eye Jighead gives us the flexibility to reach redfish in some super tricky situations,” says Cowart. “We’ve all seen those super-selective redfish, tailing in shallow water. We take a Z-Man Big TRD, trim it down an inch, and put it on the Texas Eye hook. Throw it a few feet in front of a bull red, and just barely move it, deadstick it. The pivoting hook lets the buoyant TRD float tail-up off bottom while the jighead digs into the silt, just like a burrowing shrimp. Big redfish wolf it.”
The opposite of finesse, the Cowarts also rig a DieZel MinnowZ swimbait on a ¼-ounce Texas Eye jig with baitcasting gear and 60-pound braid, working right through the dense marsh grass. “The shimmying jighead and soft, buoyant bait swim hard and articulate beautifully, even when tied direct to the heavy braid. We’ve even done well punching the bait through holes in matted vegetation, letting it flutter to bottom where redfish race down and crush it. The hook’s stout enough to flip 6-pound redfish right into the boat. We’ve even caught tarpon on it.”
Matching a wide variety of ElaZtech and other traditional softbaits, new Z-Man Texas Eye Jigheads are available in 1/8-, 3/16- and ¼-ounce weights and five eye-catching colors. For more information visit www.zmanfishing.com.
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