Crappie & Panfish

Z-Man Micro GOAT Review

Z-Man Micro GOAT Review

The Z-Man Micro Finesse baits were released a couple years ago, and this year, they introduced a few additional shapes. One of those new shapes is the Z-Man Micro GOAT. I was intrigued by this design because I liked the original goat as a trailer on several different baits. But I really thought this bait had some big potential for panfish. Turns out I was right. I have been catching hundreds of panfish on the Micro GOAT over the last few months. I think this could replace a lot of baits for a lot of anglers based on its durability alone.

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I’m a big speed and profile guy when it comes to plastics. You need a profile that fits the fish and mood of those fish you are after. But you also need a bait that looks right at the speed you want to fish. Some baits don’t swim right at super slow or fast speeds. The Z-Man Micro GOAT swims really nice at all speeds. The tails have to be pulled apart and then they are free to kick.

At a fast speed, the tails kick in unison to offer a lot of action and turbulence behind the bait. But at a slow speed the legs kick and even just slightly wiggle on the slightest of movements. Keep in mind most small baitfish swim with a subtle flutter not a hard thumping kick. The Micro GOAT mimics this subtle flutter incredibly well.

Micro GOAT profile


Because of the size and action of the Micro GOAT, I’ve found it to be an incredible bait on both crappie and bluegill. In fact, I was somewhat blown away by how many big bluegills I’ve caught on this bait. The size of the jighead matters on catching bluegill, but I have boated no less than 200 bluegills on the Micro GOAT since October. I’ve also caught 6 limits of crappie on the Micro GOAT in the last month.

There is something about the goat where I think it’s close in size to a cricket, while also being close in size to a grub worm, small shrimp and small baitfish. So it’s the perfect profile to mimic nearly everything crappie and bluegill eat. And because of the formulation and the small appendages in the back, the bait compresses well on the bite and the fish get it in there mouth. You think how small a bluegill’s mouth is, and the Micro GOAT bluegill I have caught all have it down in there mouth completely or they are hooked in the roof of their mouth in that hard spot.

To me, that means that profile is perfectly made.


So what is super interesting is that I went three trips with the same GOAT. I am somewhat floored how many fish one bait will produce. There is one scenario where if a bluegill short strikes and clamps down on the tail and you set the hook you can loose a tail. But that has happened to me twice in 3 months. One bait produced more than 100 fish for me (I kept count on a counter at 121). If you don’t lose the jig in cover, you can go days on one bait.

Now, I will preface that with saying, you have to pair it with the right jig. If you rig it on a jighead with a big collar or lead keeper, it’s not nearly as long lasting. I will talk about the perfect jigs for these baits in a minute.

Z-Man Micro GOAT colors


I am actually talking with Z-Man about expanding some more colors into these lines because the profiles in the Micro Finesse baits line are so good. But right now my staples are definitely Blue Glimmer Sparkle, Hot Chartreuse, Glow, and Green Pumpkin. I was surprised how good the Blue Glimmer and Hot Chartreuse colors worked. I generally like a more translucent chartreuse but the fish love Hot Chartreuse, even in clear water. I am hoping the colors expand in the this line to round out this really dynamic micro finesse bait.

micro goat setup


I have experimented with a bunch of jigheads with the Micro GOAT. What you need is a leadless shank. A wire keeper is good but it needs to be a big hook to hold the bait. The Micro Finesse ShroomZ heads are pretty good but the keeper is undersized for how soft the material is in the Micro Finesse baits. So what you need is either a bigger hook or a jighead with no body or keeper and you modify it to glue.

My Best Panfish Jighead Trick: I will use a bit lighter head with either a No. 2 or No. 4 hook. I like a 1/24-ounce head a lot. The jighead has no keeper or lead on the shank. Just a ball head. Then I take fly tying thread and I put the head in my vise, and I wrap thread around the shank about 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch. Then I tie it off. Then I will take a drop of glue and put it on the thread before threading my Micro GOAT on the shank. When the glue sets up, the thread creates a much better bond and the bait is “locked” on the shank. And you can go for a long time without ever touching your head.

If you just want a simple jighead that works with the Z-Man Micro Baits, checkout the Kalin’s Triple Threat Crappie Head. That keeper will lock a Micro GOAT on the head. That’s what I was using when I caught the 121 fish on a single bait.


The last thing I will mention that makes the Mirror GOAT unique is that it rigs perfectly flat or vertically. If you rig it flat, the tails are horizontal and flutters like two kicking feet. If you rig it vertical, the tails are on top of each other and more undulate and swim like a real baitfish. So if I want to shoot or skip the bait or want to bump it along the bottom, I will rig it flat. If I want to swim it in open water, I will rig it vertical.

I sometimes like to bite just the head off of the bait and shrink it up just a little and make it snug up on the jig head a little better. That profile makes it money for big bluegill.

I can be so much more efficient chasing panfish when I don’t have to constantly touch and adjust my bait. I often make multiple presentations to get sluggish fish to bite so I want to be repeatedly pulling the bait through zone and not having to stop to mess with my bait all the time.

This bait is quickly replacing a lot of plastics in my panfish system. I will be sharing some video of this bait in action for those who want to see and learn more about how to use them best for panfish. Find them at most of our retail partners like FishUSA.

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