Chatterbait Fishing Guide – Beginner to Advanced
Chatterbaits, also known as bladed jigs, consist of a skirted jig with a flat blade attached to the front. This blade creates both flash and vibration as it moves from side to side. The vibration and flash help bass hone in on the lure, even in low visibility.
Many anglers love fishing chatterbaits because the vibration allows you to feel exactly what the bait is doing. You know when the blade starts up, stops, or pops free of grass. It’s an incredibly versatile bait that every angler should have in the tackle box and know how to use.
When to Use a Chatterbait
The best time to use a chatterbait is when the water is choppy or has low visibility. Choppy water creates a lot of noise and reflections which makes it hard for lures to stand out.
Murky water or cloudy days have the same effect. Both lower the visibility underwater which is why chatterbaits are perfect in these situations.
The vibration of the blade actually makes it so bass can feel your bait’s presence through their lateral lines. The vibration draws in the bass from greater distances when vision won’t.
Best Times to Fish a Chatterbait
- Windy Days
- Cloudy Days
- Low Water Visibility
- At Night
During the spring and summertime chatterbaits are great for covering water quickly. You can throw them in grass, open water, or hop them along the bottom.
In colder water, downsizing the bait and slowing down the retrieve can entice sluggish fish.
Where to Fish a Chatterbait
Chatterbaits work best when fishing areas less than 10 feet deep. Areas with vegetation like grass, Milford, cattail, hydrilla, reeds, etc.
Chatterbaits work great in vegetation because they will often get temporarily snagged. As they are snagged the blade will be stopped. When you load up your rod and pull your chatterbait free, it will speed your bait up and the blades will start vibrating.
This burst of speed and vibration imitates a prey fish spotting the bass and darting away. This action triggers the bass to attack your lure because they think they have been spotted and they have to act now or lose a meal. They have to make a split-second decision and don’t have time to inspect your lure.
Another great place to fish a chatterbait is around docks. Docks are great targets for chatterbaits because they have a large flat surface that allows them to skip under docks very well.
Bass will often suspend a few feet below docks for their shade and ambush prey swimming by. Chatterbaits can get up under docks while also being effective in just a few feet underwater.
If your body of water has a lot of rocky banks where fish are used to seeing squarebills swim by every day, then chatterbaits can be a great alternative. Bladed jigs do great deflecting off of rocks or hopping along the bottom.
Chatterbaits also do great around wood cover for the same reasons, they are great deflection lures. The sudden direction change from a deflection triggers the same action of a prey fish spotting a bass and darting away.
Best Places to Throw a Chatterbait
- Rocky banks
- Wood structure
How to Fish a Chatterbait
The most popular ways to fish a chatterbait are in and around grass and structure, and hopping along the bottom.
- Around Cover – When fishing around hard structures try to deflect your bait off the cover to create irregularities. When the bait deflects off, the blade will temporally stop and then quickly start back up. The sudden deflection and vibration change mimics a baitfish seeing the bass and darting away. This action draws an instinctual reaction to strike before the bait gets away.
- Grass – Chatterbaits are excellent when fished in heavy grass. The vibration of the blade will draw in bass even when they can’t see it due to thick vegetation. They will often get hung up in the grass and need a few quick rips to free them. As you pull the lure free, your rod will load up and slingshot it out. This sudden burst of speed will often draw sudden bites.
- Open Water – If you don’t have any cover to bounce off of then you can mimic the action yourself. In open water add short pauses every couple of reel turns. Another option is to give your reel a quick extra turn during your normal retrieve. These changes will give your chatterbait a short quick burst that will mimic prey trying to get away.
Best Retrieves for Chatterbaits
- Sweeping – Let your chatterbait hit bottom then sweep your rod to your side. Once your rod tip is 90 degrees from your bait, reel up the slack as you move your rod tip back to pointing at your bait. This is the same motion you would use when fishing a football head jig. Continue repeating this motion until your bait is back to you.
- Pumping – Let your chatterbait hit bottom then pump your rod tip up towards the sky. As you lower your rod back down, reel up the slack. This pumping motion will pop your chatterbait off the bottom and get the blade vibrating then slowly fall back down. Wait a few seconds between hops and continue the process until the bait is reeled in all the way. Be ready for a strike as the lure falls. This technique works better with craw trailers.
- Stop and go – With a steady retrieve add in the occasional pause where you stop reeling. Each time you stop reeling the chatterbait will drop slightly in the water. This retrieval is similar to a jerkbaits, jerk-jerk-pause. Like with a jerkbait the pause is what often generates the bite.
- Burning – Burning a chatterbait is really effective in warmer water and you are bringing your bait over ambush points like tall grass, stumps, or laydowns.
- Slow rolling – When slow-rolling a chatterbait you want to let your bait hit the bottom then slowly reel in. With this retrieve, you are trying to keep your bait close to the bottom.
Which retrieve you use can change day to day. You need to experiment and try different retrieve until you find which works best that day. Knowing these 5 retrieves will take your chatterbait fishing to the next level.
Detecting Bites & Setting the Hook on a Chatterbait
A chatterbait bite can be tricky to detect. Sometimes bass will smash the bait and it’s easy to detect. Other times are much more subtle. On your retrieve, you will feel the bait vibrating and then all of a sudden it just stops vibrating. The lack of vibration comes from a bass following the bait and closing their mouths on the line. So pay attention and if you feel a change in vibration set the hook! Hooksets are free and you don’t lose anything for trying.
For chatterbait and trailer recommendations, read our chatterbait buyers guide.
Recommended Rod & Reel
7’2″ – 7’5″
Chatterbaits have proven their effectiveness, especially in stained or dirty water. By understanding their strengths, adapting to different conditions, choosing the right colors and trailers, and using the right retrieval, you can unlock the full potential of these lures. Remember to experiment with different setups and trailers to find what works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you tie line to a chatterbait?
When using a chatterbait you tie your line directly to the snap with a polamer knot.
What’s the best fishing line for a fishing chatterbait?
I typically use 50lb braid to a 15lb leader when fishing a chatterbait. If you fish a lot of grass you may want to go with straight fluorocarbon line. Straight fluorocarbon will have more stretch so when you get hung up on grass and rip the bait out it won’t shoot out as fast as with braid. This gives the bass more time to react and catch up to your bait.
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