Gulp vs Zman... my thoughts!

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    Posted: 12 Nov 2022 at 4:04pm
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My thoughts on the age old debate of Gulp vs Zman. I copied this from another forum before it disappears entirely (as seems to be the fate of forums). 

Gulp is a lure made of bait, albeit synthetic bait (we can argue about it's biodegradation on another thread). Lumps of Gulp on a hook laying static on the seabed will catch fish as I proved to myself in Whangaroa Harbour. Fish want to eat it! Confirmed on video by John Skinner, a skilled and intelligent angler based in the USA. The fish are porgy which are close relations of our snapper.


Gulp can catch fish in the same way natural bait can, but it can also catch fish when worked as a lure. Even then, there is no doubt that the taste of Gulp keeps the fish biting if the initial strike doesn't result in a hookup. Note that John Skinner strongly recommends frequently "recharging" Gulp softbaits in Gulp juice. 

In contrast, Zman is a lump of plastic. Fish aren't interested in eating it unless it is made to look like prey. Once they "taste" the plastic, it's generally all over. The fish is either hooked or has worked out that something isn't right and doesn't come back for another bite. You can add flavoured gel to them, but there is a problem. For the flavours to be detected by the fish, it has to be water soluble, otherwise it won't disperse. If the formulations are made water soluble, they will wash out very quickly. I don't know the exact formulations and don't have that much experience with them, but my feeling is that they catch the angler rather than the fish. However, if they do have a water soluble element and they are reapplied regularly, I can see the rationale in their use.

At a rough guess, Gulp gets ten times more bites for me than Zman when fished for a similar amount of time, but that's not the end of it, let's break it down further. Most of my softbaiting is done in 40 - 60 metres of water with the softbait fished vertically on a 1.5 - 2oz jig head. I don't add much movement to the softbait other than the occasional jig and of course, the drift, but I do try and stay in contact with the sea bed, so the softbait is effectively bounced up and down while covering ground. There's a little movement, but not as much as traditional shallow water softbaiting techniques. With the latter, I suspect that the difference in bite rates is far smaller because it's all about movement rather than taste and the fish has less time to make a "decision" as the softbait zooms past it's nose. In addition, I believe the buoyancy and greater flexibility of Zman makes them a more attractive lure than Gulp.

So in conclusion, one isn't better than another, they have different uses. Gulp can be fished more like real bait, keep the fish biting and are useful when the fishing is slow. The downside is that Gulp are fragile and easily ripped apart by fish with sharp teeth, so it pays to carry some Zman soft plastics as well. Zman are better lures and are especially useful when the fishing is hot or there are lots of small fish destroying Gulp.

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Yep agree with the above, I fish under 20 metres around whangaparaoa and depending on the time of the year say winter gulp do fish better. Having said I like to fish the Zman curly tails as well in the winter as they have more action. If I soft bait out at the 40 to 50 metre mark, Zman paddle tails are my go to again because of the action jigged and down.

I also fish the firth around the 8 metre mark and only drop and drag Zman as they last longer and stay on better I use the lightbulb jig heads.

I haven’t really fished a lot of soft baits in the last couple of years because I now like micro jigs which can be fished at any depth and the larger flat fall jigs are awesome in deep water.

I did find find some old gulp pumpkin seed jigging grubs in my shed a couple of months ago, would have been 15 years old. Took them with me on the firth month ago, nothing happening on the micro jigs so I changed to a jighead and casted one out, bang fish on and came home with a nice feed but I did go through the whole pack.
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Cheers Kandrew. Microjigs are absolutely lethal! If you gave me the choice of one lure, it would be an orange/lumo microjig weighing 30g. Cast a mile and the snapper love them. Even caught fish from the beach with this kind of lure.
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Gulp works for me,tried zman and found too bouyant,have a tub of berkley and works for me too,just off the bottom in a rod holder and seems to be out fishing bait at times,bigger fish.

Still learning  about softbaits,only have one colour orange/green things 1/2pz head.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote terrafish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2022 at 8:18pm
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Oh God, what have you started!

So in Opening, I am Zman, nearly exclusively, and unashamedly. The durability of them is second to none, losing one is akin to losing a close family member!

Now just to make things clear from my end, I only use them during schooly season in the BOI, as I still love dirty stinky Bait and burley fishing during the winter.

When I first started flicking softys using Gulps, I was blown away by how much fun it was, but also how expensive it was. Sometimes 5 casts and 5 baits. Works out flamin expensive, very quickly. Then when Zman came on the scene and tried em, the costs plummeted and the catch went up. Sometimes catching upward of 30 fish on one. Now again have to say, this is schooly season, and you can catch snapper on a piece of shredded jandle! But the Zmans just sucked up the punisment time after time after time.

I don't debate the fact that a gulp will still catch a fish after it has lost it's rear end, but it is likely to be a smaller fish and fished lazily. The cost of gulp is just too prohibitive to make them viable unless the fish are real lazy and there is a lack of leatherjackets, squid, and the myriad of other gulp loving species around, and it goes straight past its nose, but then so will a fresh scented Zman.

For me, it's all in the action and how much it's worked, heavy jig heads, powering down and not giving fish a chance to think and look, instead just lashing out. Otherwise once its hit the bottom then short sharp highly erratic slow retrieve, with no pattern and regular drops back to the bottom, and watching the sounder for sign below the boat and allowing for that too.

Scent, I'm on the fence, but lean more towards if it is put in front of a fish and looks in trouble, then it will get eaten, same goes for colour, apart from the harbour dirty water, then chartruesse is the only way to go for me, especially big grub tails. And that was my favourite gulp untill zman released the dorminatorz. Thus ending gulp for me
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Thanks for the comments terrafish. It's all good. I can only report on my experiences and they may only be valid to my circumstances. Gulp can be expensive. I'm working on that and have come up with a solution, but it's yet to be tested, so I'll keep it to myself.

A few thoughts though...

Originally posted by terrafish terrafish wrote:

Sometimes 5 casts and 5 baits.

and 5 fish! Gulp generally pays for itself for me in deep water over sand re: fuel costs chasing workups and finding fish. 

Originally posted by terrafish terrafish wrote:


Scent, I'm on the fence, but lean more towards if it is put in front of a fish and looks in trouble, then it will get eaten

100%. I'm quite convinced putting the lure in front of a snapper's nose trumps all other considerations and that is a specific skill in itself.

Originally posted by terrafish terrafish wrote:

 especially big grub tails. And that was my favourite gulp untill zman released the dorminatorz. Thus ending gulp for me

I got on the DoormatadorZ bandwagon. Even ordered some from Aussie before they landed in NZ. Very pleasing in lots of respects, but fished side by side in deepwater against Gulp 6 inch Grubs in a similar colour, the bite and hookup rate was considerably in favour of Gulp. That was at Middle Foul, BOI.

Ultimately, technique of choice is up to the individual and there's no doubt Gulp are more hassle and expense. For a couple of years, I exclusively fished slow jigs for snapper because that's what I wanted to do.
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Yep, technique is one of those rabbit holes that leads to all sorts of contradictions.

In the end a technique is developed that suits one's own style of fishing, and the observant fisherman/women watches what others are doing, and how they do, then adopt and adapt it into their own style of fishing, as well as refining their own technique.

Happy to take you out and do a scientific side by side zman vs gulp, could well be a very entertaining experiment........ I have first dibs on Zman
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I mainly fish around rangi and the only Zman that works for me was from this guy
Tried looking for more streakZ Curly Tails Motor Oil UV but no luck
and tried other types and sizes of Zman but none were good (to me anyway).

Gulp on the other hand, I have more catch rate with Gulp.
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Originally posted by terrafish terrafish wrote:


Happy to take you out and do a scientific side by side zman vs gulp, could well be a very entertaining experiment........ I have first dibs on Zman

That's very generous. Likewise. I think Gulp vs Zman in shallow water would be a tough call once you factor in all the Gulp destroyed by leatherjackets LOL
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Originally posted by Fish 4T Fish 4T wrote:

I mainly fish around rangi and the only Zman that works for me was from this guy
Tried looking for more streakZ Curly Tails Motor Oil UV but no luck
and tried other types and sizes of Zman but none were good (to me anyway).

Gulp on the other hand, I have more catch rate with Gulp.


Pretty sure Hunting & Fishing in Whangarei sell them and also in the rather awesome 5 inch size. I discovered this after ordering some from Aussie Angry

As far as I know, all the Motor Oil products have that UV element, so maybe it's just a change of name/packaging. 

Just in case you didn't know, in the bizarre world of Zman, "StreakZ" is the name given to unscented softbaits. Marine Deals are a little confused and claim to stock scented StreakZ!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Pcj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Nov 2022 at 4:14am
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Have no idea how 5 sb can cost $13/$15 per pack,even looked overseas and conversion rate comes in same price,yet berkley tubs of 30 cost me $28 from the warehouse and found even if bitten in 1/2 still work.

Is it the scent used that attracts fish as in 1/2 the action gone or am been lucky that fish were just in feed mode?

Hopefully find out in a 1hr or 2
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Originally posted by Pcj Pcj wrote:

Have no idea how 5 sb can cost $13/$15 per pack,even looked overseas and conversion rate comes in same price,yet berkley tubs of 30 cost me $28 from the warehouse and found even if bitten in 1/2 still work.

I did work out the packets are cheaper per bait at one point, but it varies. Obviously you get the all important juice in the tubs. Standard tubs are $37 in my local stores now!

Originally posted by Pcj Pcj wrote:

Is it the scent used that attracts fish as in 1/2 the action gone or am been lucky that fish were just in feed mode?

Hard to say exactly, but I think the scent is important. 
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All I know is I have fed Gulp to fish when actively feeding and watched them eat it. I've thrown in Zman's and others, they will bite at it but wont eat them
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The fish were kahawai by the way.
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Have you ever tried pulling a Zman apart these things are super stretchy so no wonder the fish spit them out but when I’m fishing drop and drag with them you do get multiple bites as the lure gets dragged along and it’s not just the bottom. I sometimes even slowly wind in and have fish nibbling right up to the boat before getting hooked just like when fishing sliders.

I think action and colour is far more important than smell. That’s why micro jigs work so well.
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Agree 100% on the jigs. Never seen a fish eat one of those. Zmans are almost indestructible but fish eat Gulps.
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If I had to chose between one or the other I'd go Zman
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Okay, I'll 'bite'. I've written some of this stuff before in other threads, but have crystalised my thinking over time...

I mainly softbait these days, though i've spent probably way too much money on various micro style jigs without giving them a decent effort (sorry Kandrew!!).

I carry both main brands on board, and also some Daiwa Bait Junkies - which are very similar in characteristics to the Z Man Elaztech material and have an incredible action on the retrieve. And I note that big snap legend Rob Parker in Northland is now regularly using Catch Livies which are made of a similar material, and is racking up some donkeys on those (mostly dragged by newbies in 40m by the looks of it).He previously used Z Mans with an enviable gallery of huge fish for his clients. I'm sure he'd get plenty on Gulp but as a charter skipper, you are going to use durable lures...

Anyway, I started out my softbaiting journey on Gulp after witnessing some big snaps caught on them in the workups, and reading up as much as i could about softbaiting when I was starting out. Gulp was awesome at marketing through the fishing mags etc.
I liked the jigging grub in 4" or 6", but my favourite became the Crazy Legs Jerk Shad - which i think is more durable material than the grub (maybe because the fine bits have to be more durable or the can't mould them?) and is a regular go to; closely followed by the Squid Vicious - also seems more durable than the grub. Both have fantastic movement in the water which is something I believe in.
I also have a soft spot for the sinuous 6.5" Nemesis, on which I caught probably my most outstanding 'fish of a lifetime' type fish - a stonker 77cm trev in the Far North. Trevs are supposed to like small baits, but that one got greedy. 

Having got to an acceptable bait loss to fish ratio (4-5 snaps on one bait) using the Crazy Legs or Squid Vicious, I often use them a lot over sand and they are fantastic. BUT I don't like them over foul - which points to one of the main benefits for me with Z Man etc - which is buoyancy.

When I tried my hand at fishing shallow reefy areas, I lost a lot of gear to snags because the Gulps sink into the foul pretty easily. I definitely lose way less gear using Z Mans in those situations, so i almost always grab one when fishing shallow. Usually a 5" curly tail which has amazing tail action and a fat body that you can more or less fish 'weedless' on a normal jighead. The bonus with those is when you wind in, you have a chance of a kingie or other predator latching on. 

If you believe the experts who talk about snapper taking baits 'on the drop' except when grubbing in the mud or sand, they often point to the benefits of light jigheads and buoyant baits wafting down to the waiting fish, then basically winding in if not taken on the drop. So again, Z Man is a benefit there. But I'm sure many big 'on the drop' snapper have been caught on big Gulps.

Then there is the buoyancy when 'dragging'. Several of my best snapper ever including one of my two 80+cm fish, have been on dragged Z Man Doormatadorz grubs. They tend not to snag on rubble like non-buoyant Gulps. They have incredible tail movement, and the biggies can't resist. To MB's point, i have no idea how many bites I'd get on a big Gulp grub; all I know is that I'll be mid cast actively fishing softies out the side of the boat and just hear the Slammer go off behind me, the dragging rod is buckled over, and a big red is heading for home with the Doormatadorz in its mouth...
Even downsized to the Tamaki Strait with a 5" Z Man grub (usually Motor Oil or Midnight Oil Wink), the bigger ones usually come on the dragged grub.

Colour
Unlike some people, I do believe colour makes a difference. I prefer the natural Gulp colours - New Penny in particular. But i like the amazing bright orange Z Mans and Bruised Banana, which Gulp doesn't have. I like to check out lures using a UV torch to see what lights up with glow, or plain UV, and bear that in mind when it's overcast, bright, poor light at dawn etc.

Scent
Some days the fish are smashing Z Man on cast and retrieve and I completely forget about scent additives. So I don't think scent is that crucial unless the fish are really not on the feed - THEN I might grab the scent bottle. I think scent must help a bit in dirty water such as the Tamaki Strait.

BUT, one thing i think causes some people to have issues with either brand 'not working' for them is the need to use the right jighead. Try to jam a slim Gulp (e.g. Crazy Legs) on the big OA Lightbulb rib keeper and they'll rip. Conversely, use a Z Man on a Berkeley jighead and they keep getting pulled back off the hook.

Ultimately, I've had days when every cast was a fish on Z Man, and ditto with Gulp. And days when I've been struggling on Z Man and changed to Gulp and bang; or I've been struggling on Gulp and decided to drag a Z Man and bingo. Never say never, I reckon.

And one final point - I think if you're not fishing softbaits correctly e.g. not getting to the bottom or the softbait is not on the hook straight, etc etc it doesn't matter what bait you have on - you won't catch fish. I believe a lot of people who give softbaiting a go, have no joy, and go 'what a load of bull' probably aren't doing it correctly. Which is a shame.




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Good stuff TT. For dragging, Zman would be my first choice. Same for fishing over foul and for classic cast-ahead-of-drift in shallow water as well. I just don't do much of those styles of softbaiting as there are more fish over sand in deep water where I live and catching them is generally too easy on Gulp. To put things in perspective, now my new role is personal charter skipper for our 8 year old boy, I get him setup with Gulp and he generally catches what we need in terms of snapper within an hour's fishing. He uses a Kidstix rod and has no specific softbaiting skills.


Your comment about people who don't give softbaits a good go strikes a chord. I've seen it many times. The softbait is given a go at the end of the day, or when the bites dry up. Drift is too fast and in the wrong place with inappropriate tackle and the results are predictable!

Another interesting video from Mr Skinner on the biggest question of our time (flounder this time though): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkM9Y5tva_k&ab_channel=JohnSkinnerFishing  
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Rainbow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Nov 2022 at 11:30am
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A few years ago I did an experiment.      As I am a strong believer in scent as the ultimate verification I put it to the test at Papa Aroha north of Coromandel.      I constructed a modified softbait rig on the bottom a jighead with a 5" Z-Man and 1' above it a dropper with a 4/0 circle hook on a three way swivel.

I loaded the circle with squid bait and fished the rig just like I fish ordinary soft baits such as cast out, let it sink to the bottom and jig it back.    Occasionally I dragged it behind the drifting kayak in light winds.    

Out of 20 snapper of all sizes up to 4.5kg 18 were hooked on the squid and 2 on the Z-Man.      However, the 2 Z-Man fish were only on because there was also a fish on the squid hook.    

In Taranaki we have the annual Classic Kayak comp and this attracts fishers from right around the country, including a good contingent from up north.       I don't go into competitions but usually help.     On Saturday morning I see the Northerners all confident with multiple softbait and micro jig outfits on the beach.      Then I see them at the first weigh in watching the locals bait and berliers  lining up with big fish bins.     No point turning up at the weigh in with fish under 20lbs.

Bit of a reality shock for some.

Do yourselves a favour and just add a bit of squid to the tip of your hook that shows above your soft bait.      Make 20 casts with and another 20 without this added flavour.     Compere how many strikes you get on each.      This should tell you if scent makes a difference.

Cheers 

Rainbow 

Cheers

Rainbow   
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