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Z-Man® and Salzman Unite

Major League Fishing pro Ryan Salzman joins the Z-Team

Fresh into his third full year on the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour (BPT), it seems right to suggest Ryan Salzman is destined for angling greatness. Two years ago, in his first full season on the BPT, Salzman went head-to-head with the best bass sticks in the nation and won the whole enchilada. The season prior, he nearly conquered the Angler of the Year race on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. During early seasons on the Phoenix Bass Fishing League, the Huntsville, Alabama angler claimed four first place trophies, including three on the big bass battleground known as Lake Guntersville. 

Spend a day in the boat with the freshly minted Z-Man pro, and you quickly sense a palpable intensity and simultaneously, a calm, positive energy for catching bass. Wherever he launches a boat, the dude can flat out catch ‘em. Undeniably, Salzman’s becoming a perennial player on fishing’s most sanctified stages, his versatility compelling fellow competitors to keep constant tabs on the ex-Army intelligence officer turned tourney bass pro.

“Obviously, the real reason we picked Ryan relates to last names,” grins Joey Prochazka, pro staff and promotions manager at Z-Man Fishing. (Think Mike Wurm, Claude Fish Fishburne, Harbor Lovin.) “We love the fact Ryan embraces his passion for our baits; even waves the Z-Man flag right in his last name. 

“All kidding aside, Salzman’s just a smart, super friendly guy who’s undeniably on a fast track to tournament success,” Prochazka continues. “Well before we met him, Ryan was already a big fan of Z-Man baits and that speaks volumes.”

Z-Man pro Ryan Salzman earned his first big win in 2022. (Photo by Major League Fishing)

By age 11, Salzman already knew he wanted to fish for a living. “Neither of my parents fished, but occasionally my uncles would take me out on little local ponds where we’d go after anything that wanted to bite,” recalls Salzman. “Something about fishing just resonated and I started learning all I could about the sport, reading articles on bass fishing, consuming every last bit of content on Bass Resource.”

While attending college, Salzman co-founded the fishing team at the University of North Alabama. There, he attained enough on-water success to fire up to his bass-centric goals. After college graduation, he joined the U.S. Army, where he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army National Guard. Salzman served one tour of duty in Kuwait/Iraq, earning the Meritorious Service Medal as an Intel Officer. 

“After returning home and starting a guide service (Alabamabassguide.com), I realized military intelligence—essentially finding bad guys—was a little like sniffing out bass and all their various patterns,” notes Salzman. “You’ve got to break down all the terrain, use your mind and all the available tools and technology to discover the tendencies and positions of your quarry—be it a hive of enemies or a school of bass.”

After qualifying for the big leagues in 2022, Salzman kept the momentum rolling, winning that year’s BPT Stage 5 at Watts Bar Lake, Tennessee. In 2024, his goal is to finally win Angler of the Year, having already qualified for 2024 Redcrest on Lay Layke, Texas.

Salzman’s live sonar bait of choice, the tournament-winning Scented Jerk ShadZ.

After his shallow pattern fizzled out at the recent Stage 1 on Louisiana’s Toledo Bend, Salzman showcased his versatility, securing a top-20 finish after switching to a Scented Jerk ShadZ™—the same bait that won the 2023 Bassmaster Classic for Z-Man pro Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson. Salzman watched the screen as bass after bass ate his jig and Jerk ShadZ, resulting in a solid 16th place in the standings.

“For me, it’s not so much about fishing my favorite lures, like a ChatterBait®, as it is about asking myself at every tournament, ‘What do I have to do to catch ‘em?’” believes Salzman. “You have to be good at everything—finesse plastics and Ned rigs, swimbaits, ChatterBaits, forward-facing sonar. 

“Super happy about teaming up with the folks at Z-Man for this exact reason: Even before joining the team, I was already fishing a lot of their baits, because they give me the best chance to succeed. ElaZtech superplastics like the Jerk ShadZ, Finesse TRD™ and FattyZ™ . . . these baits simply out-perform others on so many levels. Durability, buoyancy and action. No other soft plastics stand up on bottom and present that unique underwater angle everyone’s after. 

“And what can you say about the ChatterBait? It’s caught so many money bass for me. Heck, I caught a 12-pound walleye on the lure at the St. Lawrence River, as well as a 52-inch muskie on Lake Minnetonka.

“Mostly, I’m just thankful to God for the opportunity to fish for a living and to surround myself with great people and companies, like Z-Man. Biggest thing I try to do, no matter what’s happening with the bite, or the conditions is to keep fishing fun. If you’re not having fun out there, you probably won’t perform well. But keep that positive attitude and that smile on your face, and good things will come your way.”

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, among the most coveted baits in fresh- and saltwater. Z-Man is one of the fastest-growing lure brands worldwide. 

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