The Legend of Herculez – By John Boon

Before you go any further, you’re not going to find any information in this article on the mythical Greek hero, after all this is a bloody fishing magazine of course. What I am going to tell you about is a cool new lure that’s hit the market from Zman called the Herculez swim bait.

Top Herculez with stinger installed and bottom without.

Top Herculez with stinger installed and bottom without.

If you’re a close follower of Fish and Boat magazine (which I’m sure most of you are) then you would know that Dan Kaggelis covered this cool little lure only a couple of editions ago. At the time I was in testing mode and not sure if this swim bait would be worth doing a write up on. As you can probably tell with the photos and the fact we have words printed, the Herculez has come up with the goods.

When a new lure hits the market I generally just sit back and wait for any feedback from other anglers. With this particular soft swim bait I didn’t even know it was on the market until I was searching through youtube looking for some barra videos to watch.

I stumbled across Vinnie Versfeld chasing some impoundment barra up in Lake Proserpine. I was kind of looking for saltwater action but thought to myself it would be worth a look. That’s where I first saw the Herculez in action.


In my opinion there’s no better way to get an angler to shell out their hard earned to buy a lure than showing them casting it out and hooking fish.


Vinnie gave us a good look at the lure while he was putting it to use, that’s all the convincing that I needed. Being relatively new on the market the Zman Herculez took some tracking down. I thought I was going to have to order it online until I walked into Barra Jacks in Rockhampton and Colin Brett was behind the counter and he was like “yeah mate we sure do have them”.

The Herculez is available in a 4 and 5 inch body. The 4 inch weighs 3/8 ounce and comes fitted with a super sharp 5/0 Mustad Ultrapoint hook and the 5 inch weighs 5/8 ounce and rigged on a 7/0. I opted to go for the five inch because I wanted the heavier option with what I had in mind for it. I bought one of them then and there and we ripped the packet open to investigate.

The first element that I noticed about the swim bait was the gauge of the Mustad Ultrapoint hook. There’s nothing worse than buying a pre rigged swim bait and the hardware just doesn’t look to be up to standard. The hook looked sturdy and strong which is what I wanted because I would be throwing them at saltwater barra and they need to be tough.

Herculez found the corner of the jaw on this hookup.

Herculez found the corner of the jaw on this hookup.

The second element was the plastic itself. It’s Zman’s own ElaZtech construction, so you can pull and twist the material and it just falls back into shape. I’m glad that this swim bait was pre rigged because have you tried rigging Zman plastics? That material is really great for tear resistance but is an absolute pain to get a jig head rigged straight.

The final cool feature I checked out was the hook eyelet on the bottom to attach a belly stinger. I believe that this design is red hot and the best part is they have left the treble off so you can decide which treble you would like to attach. That’s enough of the boring stuff, let’s get this bad boy in the water.

The testing ground would be none other than Rockhamptons’ beaut net free zone. The water temps were starting to drop but we still had enough warmth to keep the barra active.

I pushed the tinny off the trailer, fired up the Humminbird in the early hours of the morning and set off to find some Fitzroy gold. The tides were starting to build so the water clarity was starting to deteriorate.

I scanned banks and moved around trying to find some numbers to cast at. This was proving difficult with the increased tidal movement. A good few hours later I scanned over a gravel bar that had a big lay down on top of it when I saw something of interest. The barra were holding pretty tight to the structure but were rising on occasion.

I didn’t rush getting setup and flinging a lure into them, I drifted out and spot locked on about a 90 degree angle. I attached the Herculez and gave it a quick run just under the water. Here’s another interesting concept that I do, I will swim the lure without the stinger first, then I’ll have a few casts with it just to get a feel for it. After that I will then attach the stinger and repeat the process. Basically what I’m doing is trying to see if the stinger treble effects the action of the lure at all.

School sized thready on the lie detector.

School sized thready on the lie detector.

When the water starts to dirty I really like a white plastic for some reason, it just seems to work for me. I’ve heard every tip known to man for dirty water including fluro colours or dark colours. The answer to that question is very simple, use what colour works. Don’t get pigeon holed into using one colour, it’s all about what works on the day. I’ve fished dirty water plenty of times and have seen that yesterdays hero is today’s flop so just stay flexible.

Within the first few casts with no stinger attached I felt a good whack through the rod tip, I thought to myself ‘how the hell didn’t that hookup?’ A missed opportunity but a good sign that the barra were hungry.

After another ten minutes or so I got another good whack for no result, the thinking cap went on. They weren’t chocking the lures down as there wasn’t any chaff on the leader so more than likely they were cheek swiping.

I was only a cast or two away from adding a stinger to the bottom eyelet when I finally got a thump and set the hook.


A feisty mid-sized barra took to the air with the Herculez holding firm in the corner of the mouth.


After a short fight we had the first victim in the net. I got a tag in and a few happy snaps before sending him back to the briny.

Very rewarding to get a good fish when trialing new lures. It can be a hard choice when you know you’ve got other plastics that will work but how do you expand your confidence lures if you don’t give anything else a chance?

Before the next cast I added a size 2 Decoy YS-81 treble to the bottom, I guess you could call it phase two of testing. A quick check of the plastic and there was hardly a mark on it. Got to love a tough plastic.

With the stinger on the bottom and casting at structure you need to be super aware of the depth and retrieve rate, this comes with experience and time on the water. Back in the day I would have probably got snagged every second cast or wouldn’t have bothered adding the stinger.

The first victim of the day for the Zman Herculez.

The first victim of the day for the Zman Herculez.

Another 15 or so minutes floated by when all of a sudden there was a big shower of bait close to the bank. There were pop eyed mullet scattering in all directions. With the extra weight of the Herculez it makes casting really easy and you can cast them a mile.

I didn’t even have to move the boat closer, I just launched it as hard as I could and it landed pretty much spot on.


I flicked the reel into gear and went for a fast burn to replicate the fleeing mullet. Only about two cranks in it got belted and a nice school sized thready got airborne.


I don’t see them jump much but some of the smaller models can get pretty acrobatic when fishing close to the surface of the water.

Once I brought the thready on board I checked out the hook location and the main hook had pinned the corner of the mouth and the stinger was still swinging which was interesting. I removed the Herculez, tagged the thready and over the side it went.

I sounded back over the barra spot and the numbers had built with the tide dropping. I cast out once again and started a nice slow retrieve to get that tail pumping. I felt the timber and just hopped it up and over. While it was falling back to the bottom it got crunched and another school sized barra tail walked across the surface. This time the Herculez was pinned on the side of the face by the stinger treble. This just reinforced the point of adding those extra prickles.

This acrobatic thready took a liking to a fast burned Herculez.

This acrobatic thready took a liking to a fast burned Herculez.

Once again I had a good look over the plastic and all the hooks were still in perfect shape. The body of the Herculez was still mint and looked like it had just been taken out of the packet.

These are the days we live for when everything just comes together. Active fish found and a lure that is getting the results. It doesn’t always happen this way so make sure to live it up when it does.

Another cast and yet another barra hooked. Once it jumped a few times it looked like this time the Herculez was right down the hatch. Imagine my surprise when after only a few jumps the barra was able to chew through the leader and win its freedom with the only bloody Herculez I had purchased!

It had been a long time since I have had this happen. The reason for this is that I was trialing a new type of leader instead of using the reliable FC100. Everything else had been hooked outside the mouth which causes no issues. The first time the lure was choked and I get chewed off, only mildly frustrating. The leader will remain nameless but I can assure you I threw it straight in the bin.

It was an absolute shame that the  Herculez lure testing came to an end as I was on a bloody good roll. The lure itself was simple to use as all I was doing was straight retrieves. No jigs or any nonsense, all I did was vary the retrieve speed.

So, at the end of the day would I give the Herculez my blessing? You bloody bet I do. I went straight back into Barra Jacks on the way home and bought a handful of them. About the only thing left to do is cast them at some bigger model barra, that will be the real test but I’m confident that Hercluez will show those big silver slabs some flex.

Zman Herculez are available at all great tackle shops just like Barra Jacks Rockhampton where I found these guys.

Zman Herculez are available at all great tackle shops just like Barra Jacks Rockhampton where I found these guys.