Shallow-water fishing gear heads have plenty of new equipment and product options.
The Claw: Z-Man Kicker CrabZ
“Why are they not hitting the paddle tail?” yelled a visibly frustrated captain as his client quickly reeled his bait back to the boat. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. I was within earshot of the pair and hooked up to a meaty redfish pulled from the same school we were all shadowing. In fact, it was my second fish in consecutive casts.
The only difference, as far as I could tell, was me casting a crab imitator from Z-Man called the Kicker CrabZ. I’m an angler who believes a hungry fish will eat most realistic-looking lures if presented naturally, but today was different.
The Kicker CrabZ has a unique kicker claw at the tail end of the bait that imparts most of the action; segmented legs on the body dance too. Paired with a Z-Man Pro BulletZ, SnakelockZ or ChinlockZ jig head, it looks completely tantalizing. My advice? When they’re not hitting the baitfish imitator, try a crab—or a shrimp. Yeah, Z-Man has those too. —Sam Hudson
Zeiss SFL 40 Binos
When the water gets thin enough, your eyes become more effective than any sonar. Improve your ability to find tailing fish, jumping bait, and other signs of life with a good glass. Zeiss’ SFL 40 binoculars are lightweight and waterproof, making them the perfect companion for skinny-water adventures. The excellent lenses let in 90 percent of available light, so you can make the most of the dawn and dusk periods when fish are most active. Plus, the new focus wheel lets you get them dialed quickly, so you can figure out what made that splash even when you’re running around on plane. —Joe Albanese
Fixing Those Bad Vibes: Columbia’s PFG Pro Sport Shoe
According to the US Coast Guard, 4 out of 5 risk factors leading to accidents associated with boater fatigue include sun exposure, excessive noise, alcohol use and boat vibration. Columbia’s PFG Pro Sport Shoe is designed specifically to deter that beat-up feeling you get from a full day on the boat. And it starts with your feet. The first sensation you’ll notice when wearing the shoes is soft and responsive midsole cushioning. No doubt about it, this shoe is comfortable. Secondly, these shoes grip wet surfaces better than most. The Omni-Grip provides robust traction on boat decks, something you’ll beg for on a wet ride or rainy day. —Sam Hudson
Pelican’s Ruck Cases
Skinny water and small skiffs, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards were made for each other. But these vessels often lack dry-storage areas, putting your cellphone, car keys and other electronics at risk. Cue Pelican’s line of Ruck Cases, which provide waterproof protection for all of your most important stuff, without taking up too much space. —Joe Albanese