Everyday anglers help ideate, inspire the new GOAT ToadZ™ topwater bait
Set aside the snark and the time wasters posing as social media pundits and you’re left with actual people—real-world folks driven by positivity, possibility and edifying ideas. Anglers, perhaps more than most, prefer to cheer their friends’ accomplishments and pass along cool new ways to simply have fun and catch more fish.
Right from project launch, this same optimistic outlook spurred the development of the GOAT ToadZ, a radical new ElaZtech® surface bait built via fan interaction, ideation and plenty of inspiration. “It’s really been a labor of love among Z-Man’s vast network of fishing nuts,” notes Z-Man president Daniel Nussbaum. “We’re thrilled to say, sixteen months after inception—angler concepts, rough sketches, prototypes, on-water testing, plus more input and hardcore fishing—the GOAT ToadZ is fully fleshed out and ready to make a splash.”
Among Z-Man’s faithful social media friends—nearly half a million strong—the entire design process has proven to be a fun, engaging exercise, and a rare peek behind the bait-crafting curtain. Judging by fan reaction, excitement for that first surface explosion has reached a crescendo.
“Can’t wait to see what this bait looks like in the water!” remarked dozens of fans on Z-Man’s Facebook page.
“If the GOAT ToadZ is as tough as their other ElaZtech stuff, a single bait might last me all year!” wrote another fan.
“Loved watching and participating in the design process,” noted Jerry Hargis and several others. “Watching how this bait came to life has been amazing!”
“This was fun! Thx for sharing the whole process!! Can’t wait to fish it!!!” said Steve Smith.
Z-Man’s Nussbaum, who spearheaded the GOAT ToadZ project, offered perspective on the bait’s unique evolution— from egg to tadpole to a fully-developed surface-kicking amphibian. “Typically, when a new product is released to the public, the first time you see or hear about it is the day you discover the bait hanging from the tackleshop aisle,” notes Nussbaum. “Or, if you’re lucky, you might hear about it through the grapevine, as the bait’s being developed.
“We wanted to turn traditional bait design on its head by allowing our fishing friends to virtually step into Z-Man laboratories and both watch and actively engage in the process,” he offered. “It’s been a fascinating, super rewarding exercise. We and our fans think the final version of this new ElaZtech surface bait is pretty exceptional.”
Among all the unique properties of ElaZtech, explains Nussbaum, the material’s buoyancy proved to be a perfect match for surface-fishing. “One of Z-Man’s most popular baits has been our Hard Leg FrogZ™. It’s been thirteen years since we released that bait—certainly among the most durable topwater toads ever built. Admittedly, anglers today have a lot of toads to choose from. But none of them offer all the advantages of ElaZtech. And we knew we could build a new design from scratch and give anglers something truly special—lively, versatile and incredibly durable on the hook.”
Buoyant enough to float a standard 5/0 EWG hook, the 4-inch GOAT ToadZ features a wide, bulky body and streamlined profile which combine to greatly enhance castability. The bait’s smart belly hook slot aids rigging and increases hookset success. Sculpted with a keel-shaped ‘hull,’ the bait’s “V” belly yields stability and a quick-planning action on the retrieve.
Topside, four dorsal ridges ride the ToadZ’ back, guiding rigging with a single or double frog hook. Ridges also help protect exposed hook points, preventing fouling in grass or other cover while still easily penetrating bass jaws.
“Another difference-making feature of the GOAT ToadZ is its head and throat section,” adds Nussbaum. “The bait’s 10X Tough ElaZtech composition means the head and other parts of the body resist tearing. Even after multiple battles with bass through thick cover, that hook won’t rip through the throat. That’s a common problem among most toad baits, which get destroyed pretty fast. Hook and re-rig the ToadZ over and over again. Still good as new.”
Beyond buoyancy, resilience and other amphibious features like warts and eyeballs, the ToadZ’ central attribute is its customized kicker legs. “This was one of the most evolved elements of the bait,” notes Nussbaum. “With help and suggestions from our fans, we tweaked and improved our kicker legs at least a half dozen times. Fan engagement helped us land on a specific configuration that gurgles in the water and produces a fish-attracting bubble trail.”
Nussbaum further explains how early leg versions offered too little water resistance, which required thinning and angle alterations to properly churn, gurgle and propel the bait forward at any speed. “Along with fan interaction, we also integrated our customized cupped kicker tail design from the original GOAT™ bait to maximize mobility and flow at slow, medium or fast retrieve speeds.
“That’s another key differentiator between the GOAT ToadZ and similar baits. No need to retrieve this bait fast to keep it up on top—unless you want. Go ahead and work it as slow as you like, or even stop and twitch the bait in place. It’s going to stay on the surface, period. We think that’s a pretty big deal.”
Finally, to visually portray real webbed frog feet, fans suggested carving out four accentuated protrusions extending from each foot—a finishing touch and final tip of the cap to faithful Z-Man fans.
“This is probably going to become the best frog ever,” wrote Danton Lee. “It doesn’t take on water, it floats and it’s super tough but flexible. Z-Man does it again.”
Available now—and on display and for sale at the 2022 Bassmaster Classic Expo (March 4-6, Greenville, SC)—the Z-Man GOAT ToadZ is set to become one of the more exciting surface baits in recent memory. Based on countless fan-suggestions, Z-Man chose eight expressive patterns to flash its colors. Buzz frog. Topwater toad. Buzzbait trailer. Fast, slow and always on top. MSRP $4.99 per 3-pack – www.zmanfishing.com.
About Z-Man Fishing Products: A dynamic Charleston, South Carolina based company, Z-Man Fishing Products has melded leading edge fishing tackle with technology for nearly three decades. Z-Man has long been among the industry’s largest suppliers of silicone skirt material used in jigs, spinnerbaits and other lures. Creator of the Original ChatterBait®, Z-Man is also the renowned innovators of 10X Tough ElaZtech softbaits, fast becoming the most coveted baits in fresh- and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest-growing lure brands worldwide.