Chatterbaits (bladed jigs) have become one of the most popular fishing lures for bass fishermen. This is due to the fact that they are extremely versatile and can be used in almost any situation.
In the following article I’m going to go show you how to fish a chatterbait, what are some great situations for fishing with chatterbaits and lastly, how to maximize your catches using this lure.
What is a chatterbait?
A chatterbait also known as a bladed jig is basically a jig with a single blade attached to it. Now, I know what you are thinking, how can a jig with a blade catch me more fish. This blade is really what makes the chatterbait so effective.
On the retrieve this blade gives off a clicking sound and great vibration. The two most essential ingredients when fishing in dirty muddy water.
However, don’t just limit yourself to muddy water, they work just as great in clear water.
How to fish a chatterbait?
When using chatterbaits there’s a few things you can do to almost guarantee your success out on the water, but in most cases it all comes down to the way your retrieve it.
For that reason, let’s take a look at 5 of my favorite ways to fish a chatterbait.
Chunk n Wind. A simple cast and bring back to the boat retrieve is probably one of the easiest to execute. This way allows the blade to do all the work in drawing the fish to you. However, in this situation it is important to consider where you are throwing it.
For example, what I like to do is to cast almost parallel to the shore, about 1 foot out, and then fan out across until you start to see some action. When you find the sweet spot try to keep fishing it, I often find bass like to sit approximately 10-15 feet out from the shore.
When you do find the strike zone be sure to try to retrieve the lure as parallel to the shore as you can, this will maximize your time in the target zone and therefore your chances of getting a strike.
Pause it. Another great retrieve to draw some attention is to pause your lure on the retrieve. This can be down by quickly bringing it back to the boat and then suddenly stop your retrieve.
After a short pause, continue your retrieve. It is during this pause that causes the skirt to pulsate. Then the bladed swim jig takes off unpredictably. This drives bass crazy and is a great way to catch some toads.
Slow rolling it. As the name implies you need to slow things down. This works well when fish are slow in responding, such as in the cold winter months, or when you want to go deep.
To do this, simply cast it out, allow it to go to the bottom and slowly bring it back to the boat. You want to go slow enough to where you just barely feel the blade vibrating.
Of course for best results you may want to choose a heavy chatterbait so that it will stay down in the strike zone longer. I would recommend going with nothing smaller than a 3/4 ounce.
Yo-Yo Approach. We know this approach works well with crankbaits and it can work just as good with a bladed swim jig.
To yo-yo your chatterbait, simply cast it out and allow it to hit bottom. After you feel contact with the bottom, raise your rod up and then let your lure flutter back to the bottom. As you are lowering your rod, always pick up slack to keep a tight line.
After it hits bottom, once again, quickly raise your rod and then let it flutter back down. Keep doing this until it is back to the boat.
The reason this is so effective is because when you raise your lure off the bottom, the blade gives off a ton vibration helping to draw in fish.
Bump n Grind. A great way to fish any fishing lure with a blade is to bump it into things as it comes back to the boat. There is just something about bumping into structure that almost always entices a lurking bass to strike. This works great for squarebill crankbaits, spinnerbaits and it can work well for chatterbaits.
Simply cast our your lure, allow it to sink until you feel that it has come in contact with the bottom. As you continue your retrieve, try to bump into as many things as you can, it could be a dock, stump, grass or whatever you come across. Additionally, after you feel like you have bumped into something give it a slight pause.
There is just something about that hesitation of the bait or that slight change in direction that will almost always elicit a strike from a nearby bass. Many times the bite will come on the pause.
Learn more about this approach, specifically fishing around grass, in the following video:
Vary your retrieve. Finally, don’t be afraid to change things up. There are so many different ways your can fish a chatterbait, you can pop it, jerk, pause it etc. The key is to vary your retrieve Always give the bass something different to look at.
Keep in mind that what bass want one day might not be what they want the next day. So, don’t be afraid to change things up to see what works best for you.
Changing things up is essential not only in the retrieval, but also in the look of the lure. For example, one way to change-up the look of the chatterbait is the remove the skirt altogether.
This makes the profile much smaller and allows the lure to be retrieved at much higher speeds without breaking the surface. It also makes it easier to cast on windy days. Lastly it gives the bass a different presentation, perhaps something they have never seen, thus increasing your chances of getting a bite.
How To Choose The Best Chatterbait
Not too long ago there was only one type of bladed swim jig, it was the z-man original chatterbait. Since then there are a number of different options that have entered the market. For that reason, in this next section let’s talk about a few of my favorite bladed swim jigs on the market.
By far one of the most popular chatterbaits on the market is the Z-Man Jack Hammer. In fact, several tournaments have been won with this exact bait. What makes this lure so special? The biggest difference is that it is made with a lot of premium features. For example, it has a Gamakatsu Heavy wire 5/0 hook. Of course with a better hook you are going to see an increase in hook ups.
In my opinion another premium feature that really sets it apart is the double wire baitkeeper. For me this is essential to keeping your trailer firmly attached at all times.
Another bladed swim jig that you simply can’t go wrong with is the Z-Man Project Z.
This option also comes with a solid 5/0 Mustard hook. The head design is a little different from other options on the market. As you can see from the picture, it comes with a larger head and 3D eyes, but I have found that it comes through quite effortlessly through cover.
Lastly, it has a stainless steel blade, meaning great vibration guaranteed on each and every cast.
What is the best color?
As many fishermen know choosing the right color of the lure is equally important as to how you use it. With that in mind let’s talk about some of my favorite chatterbait colors.
I really like to keep things simple, so I try to limit my selection to four colors; shad, Chartreuse, black and blue, and green pumpkin.
Shad and Chartreuse chatterbaits are great for fishing lakes that you know have a lot of white based or whiter looking fish. Things like shad (of course) and crappie within the lakes are a good sign that you should use a Chartreuse or shad colored chatterbait.
Green pumpkin is my personal favourite for use around late winter, when there is a large supply of bluegill or in early spring time when the bass start spawning. Spawning season is a great time to throw this color because bluegill go down to their beds and they stir things up. Bass really hate this. Take advantage of this opportunity to imitate a bluegill to generate some bites.
Finally, the black and blue color chatterbaits are great for use in the dirtiest water. Their black color plays really well against the dark water. Remember, the darker the lure, the better the silhouette and the better chances that lure will stand out in a time where visibility is at its lowest.
Keep in mind that choosing the right color mainly comes down to personal preference and the area you will be fishing, so don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the color. Pick out a few different color options and get out there and start practicing.
Don’t forget about the trailer…
Another thing that makes chatterbait so versatile is the trailers you can add onto them. So, let’s take a look at a few different trailer options.
There are basically two types to choose from. You can choose either a swimbait/paddle tail designed to imitate baitfish or a crawlike trailer.
Choosing between the two really comes down to what you are trying to imitate. For example, if you want to imitate baitfish, obviously a swimbait trailer is going to be your best bet.
Let’s take a look at one option in each category.
(Learn more in a previous post found here: The Best Chatterbait Trailers – My top 7)
While there are many swimbait like trailers that work great when fishing bladed swim jigs, I really like the Yamamoto Zako Swimbait. To begin with, I must mention that this lure was designed specifically with the chatterbait it mind. With that being said, let’s take a look at one of my favorite features about this swimbait.
One thing that really makes this trailer unique from, let’s say a standard paddle swimbait, is the tail. As you can see from the picture, the tail has several ridges. These ridges are designed to give it a very tight swimming action.
The more action a lure has, the more vibration it is going to give off and thus a great temptation for those big bass.
Lastly, it is available in a number of different colors so that you can match the hatch.
If you are looking for a crawlike trailer, take a closer look at the Missle Bait Twin Tail Plastic Bait.
Enhance the vibration from a bladed swim jig with two flapping tails to create more action and thus something more appealing to these craw loving creatures.
The streamline body design makes it extremely easy to bring through cover.
A few additional tips on trailer selection….
Beef up your profile. Adding a trailer will really beef up the profile of the chatterbait and can have a really great effect on the action that you get. Using larger trailers will add to the profile and allow you to use a slower retrieve without bringing the jig to the surface. Likewise, a smaller trailer will have the opposite effect.
In dirty water, it’s all about the vibration. Trailers also add a ton of vibration into the mix, this is really integral for fishing murky waters. When the fish aren’t fishing with sight (because they can’t see) they instead rely almost entirely on feeling the vibrations in the water to hunt. Exploit this by making the biggest vibrations possible. A nice trailer with a large tail paddling action will give off a lot more vibration and sound in the water.
Fish it appropriately. When choosing a trailer for your chatterbait remember to fish it accordingly. This means if you’re using a cray trailer don’t cast way into deep sandy areas, try to run it through the shallows and rocks so that it mimics, as closely as possible, where the fish will normally find cray.
The fatter the better. Lastly, trailers can also add weight to a rig if you’re finding it particularly hard to cast your lure.
Why you should use a chatterbait….
Chatterbaits are used quite often for freshwater sports fishing due to their amazing action that allows them to be retrieved in a variety of different ways. Versatility is the name of the game in fishing and no angler should ever go out without an open mind.
If you want to retrieve quickly with a spinnerbait but the fish are slow, you’ll need to change your lure or you won’t catch anything. Chatterbaits maybe just what you need.
The versatility of a chatter bait is really what makes this lure great.
So pick up your rod, throw on a chatterbait and start fishing with these great bass fishing lures.
Learn more cool chatterbait fishing tips in the following video:
Now it’s your turn. Share with us in the comments below your thoughts on how to fish a chatterbait.
Enjoy the following links on fishing with bladed jigs