Best Chatterbaits for Bass Fishing
How to Choose 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. Ideally 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 that are directly connected to the jig startup much faster than other connection methods. If your chatterbait takes 4 or 5 handle turns before it starts vibrating then you are missing out on fish.
If you cast to a piece of cover and make 4 or 5 reel turns then your lure is already a couple of feet away from your target before it functions properly. The bass sitting on the cover would never see the action you are paying for.
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1. Z-Man Jackhammer Chatterbait
You cant talk about chatterbaits without starting with the Jackhammer. It is hands down the best chatterbait on the market. This bait has won countless tournaments and caught a ton of giant bass. The best thing about the Jackhammer is the blade is directly connected to the jig. This makes it start faster and be the most consistent chatterbait on the market. It’s constantly on Tackle Warehouse’s bestseller list and you see pros throwing them all the time.
Jackhammer’s have a super strong 5/0 gamatatsu hook, a double wire keeper, and a very solid head design. The skirt is thin and flows extremely well. The blade is heavy and painted to match the head and skirt. It is more expensive than other chatterbaits but you know you are getting the highest quality. If you are fishing for money in a tournament or don’t have many chances to fish and want the most out of limited time then the Jackhammer is the clear choice.
Best Jackhammer colors: Green Pumpkin Shad, Spot Remover, Bhite Delight
2. Z-Man Jackhammer Stealth Blade Chatterbait
The Stealth Blade Jackhammer is a new chatterbait that is similar to the original Jackhammer except that it has a clear blade. The clear blade creates a slightly different vibration that isn’t quite as aggressive. It has a tighter action that is more of a balance between a chatterbait and a swim jig. It is basically a finesse-style chatterbait. It works great in pressured or clear water. Although the action and blade are a little different from the original, the Stealth Blade still uses the same blade to jig connection so it starts up quickly and has the same excellent build quality.
Best Jackhammer Stealth colors: Clear Water Shad, Green Pumpkin Shad, Spot Remover
3. Z-Man Custom Chatterbait
The Z Man Custom is from the same makers as the Jackhammer. It comes with a smaller 4/0 hook and only has one wire keeper instead of two on the Jackhammer. The custom is the best bang for your buck chatterbait. It’s about a third of the price and only a slight decrease in quality. They are perfect for trying out a chatterbait for the first time or the seasoned vet who doesn’t need the absolute best. Custom’s are only available at Tackle Warehouse so unfortunately you won’t be able to find them at your local tackle shop. They are well worth the short shipping wait over their competitors though.
Best Z-Man Custom colors: Threadfin Shad, Green Pumpkin, Bhite Delight
Selecting Chatterbait Trailers
When fishing a chatterbait you always want to use a trailer. A trailer will allow you to optimize your chatterbait for the way you will be fishing it. Both swimbaits and craws make great chatterbait trailers. Craw trailers are better for hopping bottom and swimbait trailers are better when fishing mid-column.
The most important thing about picking out a chatterbait trailer is matching the trailer’s action to the speed of the blade’s vibration. You don’t want a fast-moving blade and a slow-action trailer or vice versa.
When a trailer and blade are going separate speeds it throws the overall presentation completely off. You need the trailer and blade going at the same speed to be effective.
Best Trailers for Chatterbaits
Craw Style Chatterbait Trailers:
- Yamamoto Cowboy – Has Huge double tail grub-style claws that produce a ton of movement and flow when going through water. It is great for slow-rolling along the bottom. It is the perfect trailer for adding some bulk and drawing in big bites.
- Strike King Rage Tail Craw or Rage Tail Chunk – Both produce a ton of tail movement and pair perfectly with a chatterbait. They are great when you need a smaller profile craw trailer.
Swimbait Style Chatterbait Trailers:
- Yamamoto Zanko – This bait was specifically designed to be a chatterbait trailer. Its tail produces a very tight and subtle kick while the riveted body gives the mid-section a lot of movement. These two different actions in the trailer allow it to pair perfectly with chatterbaits.
- Keitech Fat Impact – Very popular swimbait trailer that is used with many other styles of fishing. When using a keitech as a chatterbait trailer you do need to rig it differently or make a slight modification. The first and simplest option is to rig it upside down. The reason you want to rig it upside down is because chatterbait blades displace a lot of water above the bait which kills that tail action of a keitech when rigged normally. By flipping it you are allowing the paddle tail to get the resistance it needs to produce great secondary action. The second option is to cut the paddle off the tail and rig it the right side up. Cutting the paddle tail off leaves you with a small sliver of a tail that will produce a tight fast swim action. With one of these changes, you will see much better results when used on a chatterbait.
- HogFarmer Spunk Shad – This bait has a very different action than the previously mentioned trailers. It has a tiny pointed tail that gives it a shimmy and shake action that pairs perfectly with a chatterbait.
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.
If you are going to fish a chatterbait and you can afford it, buy a Jackhammer. It is without a doubt is the best and most consistent chatterbait on the market. If the Jackhammer is out of your price range then the Custom is a great option from the same company. I have tried other brands but after losing them I never replace them simply because they just don’t compare to what Z-Man is putting out.
To learn when or how to fish chatterbait, check out our complete guide to chatterbait fishing.