Top 10 Zander / Walleye Soft Baits

I’ve been asked a lot, during some endless chat with different fishermen, what lures do I like most, what are my favorites for some specific application. You know, the same type of questions that pops in at every start of a relationship, questions like: “What’s you favourite color/actor/book/movie..etc?”.

The truth is I do have favorites, even though I try to get all objective and distant from my tackle box, and try to leave no room for subjectivity, I must admit I have “feelings” of some kind for my equipment. It’s impossible and much less fun not to get attached to these things.

You sort of realize this after you get caught playing with your new custom rod in the living room (sometimes even talking to it), making false casts in your back yard under your neighbors suspicious looks or waking yourself up by trying to set the hook while having a personal record fantasy. Not to mention you can easily take a one hour conversation on any type of fishing line.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. And no, you’re not a fanatic, you’re just a passionate angler. That makes two of us.

After getting used to the fact that I’m pretty selective, and have favorite lures for about any fishing technique or species, it’s time to share them with the rest of you out there. I thought of starting with a species of fish that’s very common in Europe, similar to the American walleye, a fish called zander, which is also a very popular game fish.

One of my all time favorite zander lure types are soft baits. I consider these to be extremely versatile, meaning they can come in handy in a big variety of situations you face on the water.

Let’s take a look at the lures I wouldn’t leave home without when fishing for zander. If you can’t find them in your tackle box, I strongly suggest to give them a try. You never know, they might end up in your personal top 10.

Because European zander is very similar in his behavior with the American walleye, I really think these soft baits will do a great job in walleye fishing also.

1. Relax Kopyto
Relax is a famous soft bait company located in Poland. It has a big range of soft baits aimed for many species of predators. Relax Kopyto is a big hit when it comes to spin fishing for predators. It’s an aggressive and super effective soft bait. It has a fantastic fish attracting tail action which makes this lure deadly for zander.

Relax Kopyto 6.5cm, a universal size that will make walleye and zander go nuts!

Kopyto is my favourite zander lure, especially during spring time, when zander becomes very aggressive and start protecting their nest. Kopyto comes in 6 dimensions, starting from 3.5cm to 15cm. When fishing for zander I usually use the 6.5cm and 7.5cm models.

Andrei showing off with his killer Kopyto lure on a 1/0 Gamakatsu hook.

2. Mann’s Shad
The first thing you notice about Mann’s lures, is that they are really really soft. This thing gives them a unique tail action and body wobble, which send out huge vibrations.

Mann's shad is by far one of the softest bait I fished with.

Mann’s shad comes in 4 sizes, and 12 colors and was initially developed for pike and zander fishing. What I like most about Mann’s shad is that it can be fished at extremely slow speeds, which makes it perfect for natural, slow presentations.

This little guy just won't let go. It must be the Mann's effect.

3. Relax Aqua
Another Relax candidate, would be the Aqua shad. It’s the perfect bait for the classical jigging technique. It has a wide tail action that can really make a difference, especially when dealing with suspicious zander.

Relax Aqua will never let you down when dealing with suspicious zander.

The soft materials (silicon) used to manufacture these baits are also very resistant, and don’t affect at all the underwater evolution.

Me and a 8lbs zander who couldn't resist an Aqua shad on Sarulesti lake.

4. Cabela’s Aqua Glow
One of my favorite lures for offset techniques. I use it a lot when fishing Carolina or Texas rigs for zander in heavy cover areas. It works great at a slow retrieve, because it vibrates at every movement of the rod tip. I mainly use this lure when river fishing, in filled with structure areas, like boulders or trees. It has an incredible swimming action, making it an all year lure, regardless of the water temperature.

Cabela's Aqua Glow, an all year lure just perfect for offset rigs.

Another important detail is that each one of these lures is salt and garlic impregnated, in order to mask fish-spooking odors and to make the fish hold on to it longer.

Aqua Glow strikes again, 9lbs zander on a calm spring day.

5. Orka Shad
Orka is another European bait company, located in Serbia. It produces great soft baits, that I began to love more and more. In the beginning I was a little skeptical about the quality and efficiency of these baits, mainly because of their low price, but after testing them in different waters they really got my interest.

Orka Shad, a great serbian lure designed for around the world fishing.

Orka Shad comes in 13 sizes, starting 4cm to 26cm. I caught a lot of zander at sizes ranging from 7 to 11cm. Try also not to underestimate the bigger sizes, because the 14cm lures sometimes made a huge difference. Their strong tail action make it impossible not to trigger the fish’s natural response to attack.

This lure can really put a big smile on your face!

6. Orka Shad Tail
The Shad Tail is another must have in any tackle box. When everything else seems to fail, this lure works wonders.

Is this close to Paradise, or what?

It has a particular shape, with a shad body and a grub tail. Its specific vibration and tail action make it the perfect bait for tough situations, when fish don’t seem to be responding even though you know they’re there. There were days, even in zander tournaments, when switching to this bait got me 4 good fish in less than 10 minutes, from the same spot someone else fished for an hour before me without catching anything.

Shad Tail, just perfect for zander punkers.

7. Bass Assassin Turbo Shad
Bass Assassin is a soft bait company, located in Florida, who’s been around for about 20 years. I fished a lot with their Freshwater Shad Assassin lures, and one of my favorites is the 4” Turbo Shad.

Turbo Shad, one of the top lures from Bass Assassin.

It has a solid shad body with a paddle tail that generates great action, making it irresistible for European zander. This is another lure I often use for offset fishing. It’s shape allows the fish to swallow it instantly, and helps me make a good hookset, without losing many fish. I usually fish this lure with 1/0-4/0 offset hooks.

Perfect hookset on a 4'' Turbo Shad.

8. Bass Assassin Curly Shad
4” Freshwater Curly Shad in another Bass Assassin lure that makes zander go wild.

Bass Assassin Curly Shad with it's unique shape and tail position.

The winning recipe, dark colors for crystal clear waters.

It has a unique shape and tail position, which sends subtle vibrations, just perfect for cold water. Its tail acts like a rudder that steers the bait into a circular fall that really attracts predators.

A 6lbs zander, caught this winter on a -3 degrees Celsius day.

I use it a lot during the cold season, when river fishing. The slit in the belly, make this lure a good candidate for offset techniques, such as Texas or Carolina.

9. Charlie Brewer’s Slider
Maybe even without realizing, Charlie Brewer really came up with the ultimate finesse lure for zander. I’m talking about the 3” and 4″ Bass/Walleye/Striper Grub. As the name suggests, this lure was not intended for zander, but believe me when I tell you, it really is a powerful zander soft bait. Its vibra-tail causes an irresistible wobble that instantly awakes predatorial instincts.

Charlie Brewer's Slider designed the perfect zander finesse lure.

I fish this bait with a 6-10 lb line and the lightest weight possible, using a slow, steady retrieve with small movements from the rod’s tip. This grub can also be very efficient when fished in a drop-shot rig.

10. Big Byte Baits Shad
I initially bought this lure having no idea it was designed by Big Byte Baits. The 3” and 4” shads are amazing on lakes with big and aggressive zander. They work great with 2/0-4/0 jig hooks and weights from 1/4oz to 1/2oz.

Big Byte Baits, the name says it all!

This shad has an incredible swimming action both when fished using a rapid and aggressive retrieve, or at a slow-steady retrieve. It is also very efficient in river fishing, having caught many Danube zander over 10 lbs.

This lures, designed for walleye fishing, are also adored by his European brother.

So there you have it!  These are my favorite soft lures for fishing zander. They are the soft baits I trust the most, and I really think that with these 10 baits I could handle most of the tough situations faced on the water.

What about you? What’s your top 10? Did I miss anything?

About Adrian

Professional angler, web enthusiast and tackle fanatic. Always in search for new things that can improve his fishing.
This entry was posted in Featured, Fish, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Vladan Stojicevic
    Posted March 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I think you’ve got to try these lures, you will not regret it

  2. Posted March 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I have had a few of this lures a really long time ago, and never ever found them again:). Thx for the link!

  3. Posted November 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Hi! and Thanks for this fantastic post!
    It’s very helpful and explain clearly all the features that a softbait needs to be attractive with the Zander.
    Thanks again. We will wait a new enthusiastic post! :)

  4. Dimitar Todorov
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Try also these – ,,Shaker,, (Lunker city) and ,,Action shad,, (Manns).

    “Shaker” exists in three sizes – all applicable in different cases for Zander.
    “Action Shad”‘s best size is 10 cm, 6 cm is too small (Perch lures).

    Dimitar Todorov

  5. Posted January 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dimitar,

    You totally nailed it with the Lunker City Shaker, the action of this lure is amazing, even though I didn’t got to fish it a lot. The 3.25 and 4.5 inch models are a must have, just ordered a couple of packs from tacklewarehouse.

    Looks like I’ll have to update the post :)

  6. Dimitar Todorov
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    You need to try the 6 inch “Shaker” and then you will surely have to update your post once again ! ;)

    I buy my Lunker City from the manufacturer – varied choice and reasonable prices. Use the 6 inch “Shaker” with the lightest head you have. Twitch it and write what you think :)

    Where do you go fishing most often – dams or rivers?

    Dimitar Todorov

  7. Posted January 7, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Dimitar, thanks for the tip, will try that :)

    As for places I fish, there’s a river that’s passes my home town, but normally I fish from boat in tournaments held only on lakes.

    What about you?

  8. Dimitar Todorov
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I live in Silistra at the Danube (right opposite to Calarasi), and since childhood I’ve always been fishing on the Danube. My experience with lakes dates back to the last 4 years. Although I’ve got some good results when it comes to lakes, I am more interested in river fishing.

    Dimitar Todorov

  9. Posted April 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    If you get a chance try some baits from Keitech (Swing Impact Fat, Swing Impact, Easy Shiner) and Reins (RVS, Fat RVS). Not as cheap as the baits in your selection but really one step above. You wpn’t regret!

  10. Posted April 9, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Hi Guillaume,
    I actually ordered some Keitech Swing Impact, their shape looks really appealing. Maybe I’ll get to test them in the following weeks.
    Had a look at your blog, really nice pictures!

  11. TLF
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink


    Accurate and useful.

    I can confirm most of your “winners” in my personal top 10,
    but my favorite is Mann’s HardNose Mullet 3.5″ – all available colors!
    This is my “zander finder” on every unknown fishing place (still waters).
    The Charlie Brewer’s Slider 3″ grub is following no too far.

    Sarulesti – the best forever!

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  19. Alexander
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Adrian! You have very good post, but, on my view, quite old collection of favorite lures. If you like, I can send you some my favorite lures to try. Who knows, may be I would change your Top10! :)

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    Posted May 19, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

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    Posted December 12, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

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  25. Bowen Weng
    Posted December 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

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  27. Burebista
    Posted July 9, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I used most of the lures you have presented, for years i’ve been obsessed with Kopyto for zander and pike and bass assasin most for pike .But i learned that big zanders cant be tricked every year with same soft lures, so 2 weeks ago i changed with berkley twitchtail minnow right from the start of my fishing session, i had first bite in few minutes, then another, i alternated colours same twitchtail shape and size, and after a whyle i decidet to change with my “old” obsession, kopyto’s and saw no more bites from zander. I tryed Relax Ohio, and same result. Manns… Same result… I changed again on that berkley twitchtail and in few minutes, I started again to have bites from zanders . So guys, dont be untrust and try time to time other baits that defys your own logic and obsessions for wich lure to fish with it .

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