What 4" curly tail brand has the best tail action - most wiggle when stationary. Maybe the thinnest tail, or the best designed tail, or what?
Don't think your harder cheap baits are going to outlast a z man... As much as I dislike their stuff, they are durable and have good action.The softness is a double edged sword. The Berkley jigging ones are pretty soft also. When I am after panfish with the smaller size, I sometimes switch to some cheap harder ones (I have one of the every color blister packs) or swimming ones when the bite is really hot because they last longer.