Chatterbait is a reasonably new phenomenon to the world of bass fishing. Back in the late 2000’s several big tournaments were won using this lure, and for a few years the chatterbait was the darling of the bass fishing world.
While use of this lure has cooled off, it is still an effective way to catch fish.
It looks similar to a spinnerbait in that it’s a jig head with a colored skirt coming off the backend of it.
Now, take away the wire and blade running over top of it and replace it with a piece of hinged metal attached to the front of the jig head.
Some chatterbaits will have a willow leaf style blade, similar to a spinnerbait, attached to the bottom of the jig head for extra vibration.
How does a Chatterbait Work?
When pulled through the water the piece of metal attached to the jig head sends vibrations throughout the water column and makes the skirt wave back and forth frantically.
Bass will key in on these frantic movements and vibrations that the metal is making. The chatterbait is also called the vibrating jig due to how strongly it vibrates in the water.
How to Use the Chatterbait
There are several different ways you can retrieve this lure, and it’s encouraged to be creative to figure out what the fish are hitting on. The following four are the foundation for all retrieves.
If you find the fish are deeper, then a slow roll will allow your chatterbait to stay low in the strike zone. The key here is to reel just fast enough to where you feel the thump of the blade.
This can work very well if the fish are hitting on top or high in the water column. A fast retrieve will keep the lure just below the surface and can trigger some violent strikes from feeding fish.
If fish aren’t interested in a slow or fast retrieve look for some grass or vegetation and allow your lure to hit the very top of the grass. When it does so rip it free and allow it to sink and then rip it again.
Work it similarly to a jerk bait. The hard motion of a lure being ripped through the grass then fluttering down will cause bass to go crazy.
Pause n’ go
It never hurts to give your lure a little something different besides mindlessly winding it in. Burning it in fast and letting it drop for a second or two can be an extremely effective technique.
There are two different starting points if you want to create your own chatterbait.
First, you can either purchase all of the products needed to pour your own lead jig heads, as well as the paint for them.
Or you can purchase a jig head from online or at your local tackle shop. You can get great products both ways. It all depends on how involved you want to be in creating your lures.
After you’ve acquired your jig head you will need a:
Not every tackle shop will have all of these products. I would recommend giving them a call before arriving to make sure. If not, these can easily be found online.
Here is a step-by-step to making your chatterbait:
1. Attach your split ring to your blade and ensure you are using a high-quality pair of split ring pliers. This makes the job that much easier.
2. After attaching your split ring to your blade, attach that same split ring to the eye on your jig head.
3. Next you will need to attach your wire snap to the blade. Open the snap and slide the open end into the top hole on the front of the blade. Now push the open end into the bottom hole on the back of the blade and close the snap.
4. The last step is applying the skirt. Push the rubber band that is holding your skirt together over the hook. Continue to move it up the shank of the hook and push it until it’s flush against your jig head. Use super glue for extra hold.
Boom! You created your own chatterbait. If you’re a fishing freak and super picky about creating different size and color combinations then this is the perfect way to do it. Otherwise, you can purchase them at a store and that will work just as well.
Tips for Using a Chatterbait
If you want to fully unlock the power of the chatterbait you’ll need to use a trailer.
A trailer is a soft plastic that you attach to your hook and can give the lure a little extra movement and can make it look more realistic.
Typically, a craw style trailer or a swim bait style are used.
If the bass are keying on spawning fish then a swimbait style will work best. If there is no spawn occurring then give the craw trailer a shot.
When using a chatterbait you also need to be aware of the seasons. Each will have different uses for the lure.
During this time of year the fish are beginning to shake off their winter stupor and are starting to move to shallow waters to feed. Many fishermen will be throwing crankbaits and other hardbody lures.
The chatterbait is a great way to show the fish something new and could entice a few more strikes.
A chatterbait is not very effective for tossing to spawning fish, but it works very well as a searching lure if those beds happen to be placed in thick cover. Rip it through the thick cover and see if a bass will leave its bed to take a shot at it.
Once you’ve caught one there are sure to be more.
Once the spawn is over, fish will begin to leave their beds to find the areas where they’ll be for most of the summer. Normally they don’t go straight there though and will hang out near cover, drop-offs, or vegetation. The chatterbait can be used effectively to locate these fish
Early morning, and evening bites will work best during this hot time of the year. The water will be cooler and with the sun low and behind the trees the bass will move up shallow to look for food.
However, if you’re stuck with only a chatterbait during the middle of the day, try and cast towards any sort of cover or shade. You may be able to entice a bite there.
When the weather starts to cool, you’ll see more and more bait fish begin to move shallow, and the bass will follow suit. This is an ideal time to run your chatterbait near grass.
Where Should you fish a Chatterbait
Try to avoid throwing your lure near rocks or large brush piles. Chatterbaits will get hung up much easier than a crankbait or other moving lures. Instead try to look for these areas.
Using the ripping technique mentioned earlier look for grass and allow the lure to hit the very top of it and then rip it out. Bass enjoy using vegetation like this for ambush points and are drawn to the ripping movement.
These areas are red hot during the spring and early summer. Bait fish like congregate here and bass will be looking to fatten up for the spawn during the spring. Bonus points if the dock also has grass nearby.
Look for any stumps or fallen trees near the shore. Bass will hold here and wait for prey to swim by.
Considerations Before Buying
The three items you need to be thinking about when looking to purchase a chatterbait are:
There are a few different types of blades you will find, and they all produce different noises and vibration. Some have a squared off corner that looks a lot like a square bill crankbait, while others will have more rounded corners.
Most recently bent blades have become more popular and those will produce a much more erratic sound than the squared off or rounded blade.
The size of the lure depends on where in the water column you want to be fishing. ½ oz is one of the more popular sizes, but if you find that this lure is getting too low and gets hung up on the bottom, then you can downsize and go with a ⅜ oz or a ¼ oz.
If you want to get deeper, then a ¾ oz will be your best bet.
As with all fishing, when picking the color of the lure you will want to match the hatch. Below are some of the most popular colors that you can use.
Black and Blue: One of the most popular colors in bass fishing. This works great in dark water and in low light conditions.
Green Pumpkin: Across the board this is the most popular color in bass fishing. This will work year round and if you could only have one color for the rest of your fishing life, it would be this one.
Sexy Shad: This is the ideal color to throw during the shad spawn during the early summer. If you’re out on the water, and see a nice shimmery ball of shad near the surface pick up your chatterbait and give it a few casts.
Bluegill: Similar to the sexy shad, this works best when the bluegill are spawning during the spring. Bass will lay in wait for a bluegill to leave their beds. So, cast this anywhere you see beds and an ambush spot for the bass.
Why is a Chatterbait Necessary?
A chatterbait may never be necessary the way soft plastics, or crankbaits are, but it can be the perfect lure to throw as a changeup to show the fish something different.
Sometimes bass want a little extra action, which you will find in the skirt moving in the water, or vibration, which you’ll get from the blade.
That little something extra is enough to turn a bad day of fishing into a good day.
Chatterbait Mistakes to Avoid
Just like all lures there are certain mistakes that you can avoid when fishing them.
Mindlessly reeling. Don’t cast to a spot and reel it in at the same speed all day, vary it up. Burn it in for a few seconds and then let it drop and then do a slow roll. Get creative with your retrieves and you’ll catch more fish. Just remember what that first fish hit on and that will be the key to a successful day.
Not super gluing your trailer. Often when fishing a chatterbait it helps to attach a soft plastic (trailer) to your hook. However, because you’ve been fishing this all day by ripping it through grass you see that the trailer begins to pull off or slide around. You can solve this by carrying some super glue with you and gluing the trailer to your jig head.
Overthinking. Yes, it’s important to match the hatch and keep your lure in the strike zone, but if you think too far into it, it can create a fishing paralysis where you’re too afraid to throw anything. Just give the fish something that looks similar to what they eat, it doesn’t have to be perfect. If they’re hungry, they will bite.
What kind of rod should you use?
You’ll want to use a medium action 7’-0” rod. If you want to use a lighter chatterbait, around ⅜ oz, then you can use something smaller in the 6’-0” range.
However, the longer rod is best for fishing this lure. You need that extra heft for ripping your lure through grass and pulling bass out of the weeds.
When pairing your reel, look for a 6:3:1 baitcaster, and pair it with 20-30lb braid for darker water, while using 15lb fluorocarbon in clear water. This will work best.
The Chatterbait can be used effectively in just about any situation, and is one of the better changeup lures on the market. When the fish don’t want a soft plastic or a crankbait then the chatterbait is the way to go. This will help you get an edge in competitions, as well as on your buddies.