Complete Guide to Chatterbait Fishing
A chatterbait is a bladed jig that produces a ton of vibration. The strong vibration can draw bass in even when visibility is low. This makes chatterbaits great at night and in murky water. During the spring and summer time chatterbaits are great for covering water quickley. You can throw them in grass, open water, or hop them along bottom.
Many anglers love fishing chatterbaits because the vibration they produce allow 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.
How to Fish a Chatterbait
The most popular ways to fish a chatterbait are in and around grass and structure, and hopping along bottom.
- Around Cover – When fishing around structure try and get your chatterbait to deflect off the cover. When the bait deflects off, the blade will temporally stop and then quickly start back up. The sudden deflection and vibration change closely resembles a bait fish seeing the bass and darting away. This action draws a instinctual reaction to strike before the bait gets away.
- Using Chatterbaits in Grass – Chatterbaits are excellent when fished in heavy grass. The vibration of the blade will draw in bass even when they cant see it due to thick vegetation. Chatterbaits will often get hung up in the grass and need to be pulled free. 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.
- Hopping Bottom – Chatterbaits can be slowed down and fished on bottom just like a lipless crankbait. This works better at night but can work during the day as well. Just cast out and let your lure sink to the bottom. To work the bait lift your rod tip up, this will kick the bait off the bottom and get blade vibrating. Once the bait is off the bottom lower your rod tip back down and reel in the slack while the bait settles 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.
Best Retrieve for Chatterbaits
A chatterbait will work on a straight retrieve but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting more bites. If you are fishing around hard structure try to deflect your bait off it to vary your retrieval. If you don’t have any cover to bounce off of then you can mimic the action yourself. In open water add a very short pause 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.
Detecting Bites & Setting the Hook on a Chatterbait
A chatterbait bite can be tricky to detect. Sometimes bass will smash the bait and its easy to detect. Other times are much more subtle. On your retrieve you will feel the bait vibrating and then all the 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.
Finding the Right Chatterbait
The key thing to look for in a chatterbait is how quickly the blade starts to vibrate. The faster the blade starts the better. Idealy you want the blade to start up within the first handle turn of your reel. For this reason, I avoid all chatterbaits that use a double-slit ring connection between the blade and the jig. Blades directly connected to the jig startup much faster than other connection methods. If your chatterbait takes 4 or 5 handle turns before it starts up then you are missing out on fish. Just think about it. If you cast to a piece of cover by 4 or 5 reel turns your bait is already a couple of feet away from your target. The bass sitting on the cover would never see the action you are paying for. For specific lure recommendations check out our chatterbait buyer’s guide.
Selecting Chatterbait Trailers
Both swimbaits and craws make great chatterbait trailers. You should choose the style depending on how you plan to fish. Craw trailers are better for hopping bottom and swimbait trailers are better when fishing mid column. The most important thing is the trailer’s action should match the speed of the blade. You don’t want a fast moving blade and a slow action trailer or vise versa. When a trailer and blade are going separate speeds it throws the overall presentation completely off. You need the trailer and blade going the same speed. You can find our favorite trailers in our buyer’s guide.
Best Colors for Chatterbait and Trailer
The best colors for chatterbaits will depend on the trailer you use. For craw style trailers natural colors work best, look for black and browns, green pumpkin, black and blues. For swimbait trailers match the hatch with shad or bluegill colors. The same jigs or worms colors you have had success with in the past will also work for chatterbaits.
Best Chatterbait Rod & Reel for Every Budget
You want a fast retrieve reel, 7.2:1 gear ratio is ideal. For a rod you should look for a 7’+ medium heavy or if your fishing super heavy cover you may want to jump up to a heavy rod. In most cases, a medium-heavy will be your best option.
Choosing the Best Line for Fishing a 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.