Timmy Horton has been busy this offseason opening up his brand-new resort, Willow Oak Lodge, near his home in Alabama. However, the 20-year veteran took a break from building new bass habitats on the lodge’s 22-acre lake to detail one of his favorite baits for the prespawn period: the Azuma Z Boss 20 in Purple Hayes color.
Horton gave us five reasons why he likes the deep-diving plug for schooling fish in the late winter.
Horton set a then-MLF record for most weight caught in a single round during the 2017 General Tire World Championship on Lake Naconiche in Texas. The Alabama pro registered 88 pounds, 4 ounces of Texas bass on SCORETRACKER®, shattering the record on a day he won’t soon forget.
Horton weighed more than 88 pounds of bass thanks in large part to the Azuma Z Boss 20, the bait he used for a majority of the day during that Elimination Round four years ago.
“When I was there, the fish were spawning, but there was a school of them that were still offshore,” Horton recalled. “Everyone I was competing against was focused on spawning bass up shallow, so I had this school all to myself. I just kept casting that crankbait at them and they kept eating it without spooking the whole school. A very memorable day.”
Horton worked with the designers at Azuma to create his signature crankbait, entering the design process with a list of crankbait attributes already in his mind. That made for quick work when figuring out what features the deep-diving crankbait would have.
“My goal when designing this was to make it extremely hydrodynamic,” Horton explained. “I equate a crankbait cutting through the water like a steak knife cutting through a steak. You want sharp and jagged cuts that are made possible by the bill. The forehead of the lure is also hydrodynamic and shallow like a sports car, which allows it to cut through the water with less resistance.”
When Horton has his Z Boss 20 tied on, it’s usually paired with a 7-foot-11 Duckett Pro Series Timmy Horton Signature cranking rod, a Lew’s BB-1 Pro Speed reel, and 12-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon. Horton likes the wide spool of the Lew’s reel coupled with the heavier weight of the bait to give him plenty of distance in his casts.
“This lure is a full 1 ounce in weight while others like it are only 3/4 ounce,” Horton compared. “Since it’s heavier and has a weight transfer system, you’re able to cast it farther which allows it to reach its maximum depth. We’re talking about 14 to 15 feet for this particular model and that’s what I use most of the time.”
Another reason Horton prefers the Z Boss 20 is because of the superior hardware that comes standard with the bait right out of the box.
“The Z Boss has great hardware with great hooks and a stainless-steel flat-sided split ring,” Horton listed. “This stuff is really on the upper-end of what you need and that’s how it comes out of the package. It’s always great to not have to make any adjustments to a bait when you take it out of the box. Just tie it on and go fishing.”
Horton throws a crankbait around schooling fish, but he’s found that some are too noisy and can spook skittish bass. That’s why the subtle action of the Z Boss is one of the best features about the bait, according to Bass Pro Shops pro.
“Usually when you’re around a school with a crankbait, you can catch four or five fish and then the school gets spooked and scatters,” Horton explained. “This bait dives deep with a more subtle action, so it’s harder for the fish to detect on their lateral line. I’m not sure if it has to do with vibration or sound, but either way it works.”