How to Fish a Chatterbait, Aka Bladed Jig

Lure manufacturers have designed the chatterbait down to a T since its resounding debut at the turn of the millennium. Though it is now a commonly known staple in any bass angler’s tackle box, it keeps getting better and better as manufacturers keep tweaking its design.

How to Fish a Chatterbait

From pros to garden-variety bass anglers, chatterbaits (aka bladed swim jig or vibrating jig) win praise for their versatility.

However, despite their versatility, just as with any other lure, these action-filled jigs work best in particular scenarios. Seasons, water structures and timing apply as critically as with any lure or bait.

Let’s examine the lure itself, its best scenarios for success and its limitations, though few.

What it does

The bladed or vibrating jig, championed by the ChatterBait Company of South Carolina, brings the average swim jig to another dimension—a dimension of sound more than sight, to slightly contort a bite from Rod Serling’s prelude to Twilight Zone episodes.

The bladed jig makes noise while emulating bait, all because of the style of its skirt, a plastic trailer and the squarish, metal blade or tongue that protrudes from the jig head.

Chatterbait fishing
Credits: TackleUK

But unlike top-water lures that create noise, this vibrating jig raises its ruckus mostly beneath the surface.

Looking like a shad, a small bluegill or other food fish for larger fish, it emits sound waves and swims erratically as a small fish might when on the move. In the end, if you are in the right spot, bass go mad over it.

The plastic tail helps to create motion and the skirt undulates, but the blade does the rest of the work. It is enabled by its proximity to the leaded jig head (at least one manufacturer is now weighting the blade itself, instead of the jig head).

The blade is situated close enough to the jig head so that it bounces off the lead head when moving, which also causes the blade to rotate.

Make sure the model you buy places the blade close enough to deflect off the jig head. This bumping imparts multiple pulsations in the water as the angler retrieves the jig.

Why a Chatterbait trailer?

A plastic trailer exponentially enhances the vibration of these lures, especially when ribbed. A twin-tail trailer allows you to fish the jig a bit slower because of their flapping or finning action.

A trailer of 2-4 inches long, depending on hook size, not only adds to the lure’s sound waves but also magnifies its profile under water.

✔ If you want to keep your jig down near the bottom, use a larger tailer, which will also allow a slower-than-usual retrieve.

✔ If you wish to fish near the top or drag it along the top, lighten up with your trailer for a rapid, splashy retrieve.

When should you not use a trailer?

When the bass just ain’t biting, try slimming your jig down by removing it. A trailer can also add enough weight to prevent a retrieve on top or just below the surface, especially in clear pockets and channels.

Where Chatterbait works best

What is the best case scenario for a bladed jig or chatterbait? Though not restricted to one type of feature, these lures prove most effective where grass grows, whether the grass tops extend above the surface or one to six feet below it.

How to work bladed jigs

The versatility of this lure really lies in the number of ways you can retrieve it. From depths of 10 feet to just 10 inches of water, in gin-clear conditions or in murky water, anglers can find a way to put bass in the livewell with chatterbaits.

Best Chatterbait weights and colors

You will be amply equipped with bladed jigs if you keep a few different color patterns and weights in your arsenal.

Jigs weighted from one-quarter to one ounce will cover the gamut. Often 3/8 to 3/4 oz. will suffice when you know the wind will not be gusting or the water is not to plugged with vegetation.

Remember that when going with extremely light jig heads, you must counter with retrieves that provide enough blade action to impart its purpose: commotion and vibration.

A short note on colors, experiment all you wish. However, you might not reach beyond the following hues: black, blue, shad or peal, bluegill, green pumpkin. Combinations of some of these can often turn in best results.

Remember that the profile and action of this lure lend mostly to its effectiveness. But, when trying to imitate a particular baitfish that you know is prevalent at the time, keep colors on your radar.

Best rods and reels for Chatterbait

Go with a rod with fast enough action to snap the lure into action and optimal vibration. A slow rod tip (i.e., limp as a noodle) can waste your time on a lure designed to travel with force and activity.

Use a rod of 6-1/2 to 7 feet, not so short that you can’t muscle the jig off of things or handle the occasional behemoth bass, and not so long that you can’t sense the action on the vibrating jig.

Fishing Rod

You can never go wrong with a graphite rod for any type of fishing, but some very seasoned chatterbait anglers—including pro bassers—like fiberglass for its absorption of shock.

Bass characteristically hit the bladed jig with great voracity. A lip rip becomes less possible when the rod can sponge up the initial shock of such a vicious strike.

Match your rod with a bait-casting reel featuring a retrieve ratio greater than 6:1. Anything from 6.3:1 to 8.1:1 usually suffices.

A speedy ratio equates to more casts, something crucial to chatterbait fishing because it is all about keeping this puppy working, especially if casting parallel to shorelines, long patches of vegetation or docks. These scenarios offer much water to cover before moving to the next hole.

Why a bait-casting reel? Because it offers ultimate casting control compared to spin-cast or spinning reels.

Both distance and speed of cast can be controlled with measured thumb pressure on the spool of these reels. Your thumb can also stop the flight of your jig on a dime, allowing you to pinpoint a pocket or bass lair with extreme accuracy.

What Fishing Lines are best?

This lure’s reputation as a bass catcher stems from its success in pro bass-fishing tournaments.

Most pros use fluorocarbon line, tougher and stretchier than mono, to maximize the benefits of a bladed jig when retrieved, cast and engaged in the heat of battle.

Fluorocarbon and monofilament work best in clear water; the former best on short strikes.

If you encounter roily water conditions, opt for a braided line in the range of 30-pound test, but not much heavier.

As already mentioned, you should feel the action on a chatterbait to know whether your retrieve is right. Use this as a litmus test for your line as well. Change your line if you can’t feel the blade action on your retrieves.

Any down sides to chatterbait?

Of course, every bait or lure fails to deliver in particular situations. Because it makes a lot of noise does not mean the vibrating jig is the best option in muddy or very discolored water.

If the trailer, jig and skirt are large enough, it can still strike a profile and emit some sound waves. But longer, shinier and more jittery lures might prove your best option.

Also, chatterbaits can be deterred by extreme wind, like most lures. The skirt and trailer can act as a kite. If you must fish in great wind velocity, try heavy jig heads—an ounce or so—and lose the skirt or trailer, whichever you think you can do without.

Conversely, on extremely calm days when the water is glassy, you might want to try fishing your vibrating jig with the skirt or trailer removed as well.

Depending on the maker, some vibrating jigs use lower quality hooks than other manufacturers. Some tout their hooks as Mustads or Gamakatsus to promote their product over the others.

Try to determine the quality of the hook when buying these lures. Bass fishing in general is all about hook set; this is only exacerbated when fishing a chatterbait.

A final tidbit

By the way, your bladed jig works as a great bass finder when they are not hitting but still chasing something moving.

When casting about, especially during spawning season, you might encounter a lot of near misses.

Once you know they are lurking but not particularly fond of the chatterbait at that moment, try a different type of lure to see if it draws a complete pursuit—i.e., hookup. The chatterbait is such a great lure it finds a purpose even when it’s not catching bass.

Sources: Anglr | Tacklescout

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