The story of the Chatterbait is one of those things that just doesn’t come along very often – or ever for that matter. Who would have known that what was originally thought to be a novelty bait would go on to change the entire world of fishing as no lure had done before? Whether you’re new to Chatterbait or you’re just interested in finding out what the best chatterbait trailers and lures are, keep reading because I am going to cover the best of each on the market today.
What is a Chatterbait?
At its core, a Chatterbait is a bladed swim jig with a skirt and blade attached to the head that causes it to chatter through the water creating a vibration that the bass can’t resist. Depending on what kind of bait you are trying to mimic certain trailers are put onto the hook of this lure to make for a more realistic presentation.
Chatterbait first started garnering national attention in the early 2000s after a few big tournaments were won on one. Originally looked at as a novelty lure and something that would never work, this lure has continued to shock nearly everybody that touches it and I promise you’re never going to see a professional angler without one tied onto a rod or two.
Chatterbait has become the most common name for what is otherwise known as a bladed swim jig or a vibrating jig. Other people produce these lures today but Zman’s Chatterbait is the original – it has become the trademark name for this type of lure, think Kleenex or Band-Aid. Zman purchased the Chatterbait in 2007 and has continued to work side by side with the original manufacturer, professional anglers, and other tackle companies to develop and improve upon the original model.
When to Use a Chatterbait
One of the best things about this style of lure is its versatility – it comes in a wide range of colors, and the trailer possibilities are endless. Another testament to this lure’s versatility is the fact that it effectively catches bass in all four seasons.
One of the things that will change is how you fish it. From color scheme to the style of retrieve, as the bass’ behavior changes so too does your strategy.
How to Fish a Chatterbait
There is no one size fits all method for throwing one of these baits but there are some general guidelines to follow depending on what season it is and what the bass are doing during that time. They say a good general rule of thumb is to match the hatch, which means you should try to mimic whatever it is the local largemouth are feeding on.
This is a great method to try out but it doesn’t always work. Bass seem to be like humans sometimes in the sense that they like to eat what they can’t have. If shad are jumping but your white chatter and trailer aren’t working then try throwing something else. I say always try and match the hatch first, but if that doesn’t work, give them something else to bite on. Now that you know what to do when it comes to choosing your trailer and chatter color, I’m going to go over some basic strategies for fishing this lure during every season.
Fishing bass in the winter isn’t for everyone, but this can be one of the best times to get out on the water. Keep in mind is that wintertime bass are going to be hanging out in deeper water, so the first thing you want to do is make sure you have a heavier ½ or ¾ ounce chatter tied on and that you’re not using a monofilament line.
Once you have your rod set up for deeper water it’s time to get out there. What I tend to look for when fishing a chatter in the winter months is deep drop-off points covered in grass. This is where I have the most luck this time of year. I find the best retrieve for this situation is to deliver a slow and steady thump a few inches below the grass line on the deep side of the dropoff. If your bait passes one waiting in ambush, trust me, it’ll hit.
In the spring months expect the largemouth to start moving towards shallower water as it starts to warm up. This is the pre-spawn period and as the bass start to move to warmer waters and bulk up after winter they can pretty much be found around any cover.
If it is early in the spring then keep in mind that on warmer days the bass are going to be shallower and on those days where winter seems to be back in full swing they will be deeper. Early spring tactics largely rely on day-to-day weather.
As you move into shallower waters with your chatterbait you will probably find it helpful to switch over to a lighter lure – I find I do my best work with a ⅜ or ½ ounce lure during this time of the year.
Unlike winter where the bass seem to let the food come to them, during the spring months they are going to actively be searching it out. You can use this to your advantage by fishing near tree and grass cover, preferably in the warmest parts of the water.
Depending on where you’re located fishing in the summer months can be near unbearable, but it’s when some of your best fishing gets done. To make the most out of the hot months and to follow the feeding patterns of largemouth I recommend fishing during the cooler parts of the day, be it early mornings or late afternoons.
This time of the year is concurrent with the bluegill spawn so I try to throw a medium weight chatterbait with a matching trailer to imitate bluegill. For this, I like to throw a green pumpkin setup or some variation of brown and orange hues.
Early in the summer, I like to throw this setup around any rock, tree, or brush cover leading to bluegill spawning grounds. Later on in the season, I like to target weed and grass lines a little deeper in the water. A steady retrieve and light jigging action mid-water column work wonders in the summer.
As the weather starts to cool off again I find that many of my springtime tactics work. The retrieve style, cover, and depth targeted are similar, but I generally fish a different color lure. I find that I do well with whites and other shad mimicking colors in the fall. Like I said before though, fish can be snobs, so if this doesn’t work try presenting them with something else. Check out a more detailed guide on how to fish a chatterbait here!
Now that you know what to look for in a chatterbait you can make an informed decision for which of the following lures and trailers fits your needs the most. Most of the baits that I cover today are Chatterbait name brands, but there are a couple from other manufacturers as well.
Best Overall Chatterbait
This beauty was designed in partnership with professional Brett Hite who has a particularly fond outlook on the Chatterbait. Earning a cool $250,00 in a little over a week on Lake Okeechobee he understood how these baits work and improved every possible aspect with this Jackhammer model.
The Jackhammer comes with an even larger blade to deliver a heavier thumping action that the bass can’t resist. One of the best things about this lure is the speed at which the blade starts working – after all this is what triggers the fish to bite, so the quicker the blade gets to work, the quicker you can start catching fish.
This lure comes in any color and weight variation that you could need. It does have a higher asking price than most Chatterbaits, but it is a premium product and if you put it to work you’ll catch some fish.
Best Weedless Chatterbait
One of the best places to toss a chatter is in grass beds and weed lines. You can find bass in these areas all year round, so having a weedless chatterbait in your arsenal could be the difference between catching a fish and striking out.
This lure is one of the best-looking ones out there in my opinion – the double umbrella skirt and heavy fiber weed guard make this presentation irresistible to the big ones skulking in the grass.
Available in all of the standard colors this thing comes in either a ⅜ or a ½ ounce version suitable for diving deep, or staying just above the grass line.
Best Deep Water Chatterbait
This particular lure was designed in collaboration with Z-Man and Freedom Tackle. By using a Z-Man blade and Freedom’s zinc head design this thing delivers an underwater sound completely unique to only it. In addition to the traditional thumping of a chatterbait, you can rely on the CFL to deliver a one-of-a-kind clicking sound as a result of the head and blade placement.
Another thing I like about this lure is Freedom’s patented hook release system. Contrary to traditional fixed-hook jigs this hook is removable. This allows the trailer to move more than usual giving the lure a more realistic presentation. In addition to a better presentation, the removable hook setup allows for customizing your bait, something not possible with most vibrating bladed jigs.
This thing is ideal to fish rocky bottoms with and its unique design makes for a hard to snag lure so you can fish rocky terrain with confidence.
Best Newly Released Chatterbait
This Clickbait from Googan isn’t your run-of-the-mill carbon copy of the Chatterbait. Googan has strived to incorporate what makes the Chatterbait great with their own innovations as a way to make vibrating jigs even better than they already are.
Its unique blade design allows for it to resist floating up in the water column so you can keep the lure right where you want it. Another interesting thing about the positioning of this blade is that when it vibrates it clicks against the wire and beads to deliver the unique sound profile that gave this lure its name.
Googan Squad’s Clickbait comes in a ⅜ and ½ ounce model with a wide range of colors to match optimal conditions of the area you’re fishing.
Best Looking Chatterbait
Nate’s Custom Baits is an interesting story on top of the already interesting story surrounding the origin of the Chatterbait. By 2016 Nate had made a name for himself with his version of the bladed vibrating jig. He took an unusual approach, and while it may seem a gimmick to some, it has proven itself in the water.
That unusual approach I mentioned has to do with the designer’s choice to use dyed buck hair within the hand-tied hybrid skirt. The presentation is phenomenal underwater and so large it makes the necessity for a trailer nonexistent. This lure still works with a trailer and I still recommend you use one for an even better presentation than the Hybrid Vibe already presents.
Why use Chatterbait Trailers?
Chatterbait trailers are the final piece to the chatterbait puzzle and it may very well be the most important piece. Trailers are a soft plastic bait that is hooked onto a chatterbait to complete the profile and to give the bait a more realistic presentation. The two main things you want to consider when choosing the right trailer for you are the action and the profile.
The action of the trailer is referring to how it moves. The desired action is going to be specific to your style of fishing, but if the action is going as fast or faster than the thump of the chatter then you should be alright.
The profile includes the color and shape of your trailer. Some trailers are designed to look like baitfish while others more resemble grubs or craws. When choosing a trailer you can start by trying to match the hatch – this means you will select the trailer with the same shape and color as what the bass are feeding on. If they don’t seem to be hitting on a close match you should try a different shape and color scheme.
2021’s Best Chatterbait Trailers
Choosing the best trailer for your chatterbait is one of the most important parts of fishing a jig like this. Keep reading to find out what trailers every angler needs to have in their tackle box.
Yamamoto’s Zako is probably the most recommended trailer out there. Brett Hite played a big part in the design of this trailer so it’s no surprise it’s a hit – he is undoubtedly the most knowledgeable angler when it comes to the Chatterbait. He is the same guy that helped design Z-Man’s Jackhammer that I mentioned earlier.
Zako was made to be a chatterbait trailer so it should come as no surprise it’s one of the best. This 4’ trailer is a must-have for anybody who likes throwing chatterbait. It comes in a huge cast of colors for any type of situation.
This is a versatile trailer here because not only does it look great trailing behind a chatterbait but it can be used alone for a good soft-action jerkbait too. The unique pintail design of the Spunk Shad gives it its quick darting swim motion.
HogFarmer’s Spunk Shad comes in 3.5” up to 6.5” models and they are available in 12 different colors.
Kitech’s Fat Swing Impact paddletail swimbait delivers a super-realistic action behind the wake of a vibrating jib and they come in all different sizes better tailored to fit your needs. This perfectly balanced trailer delivers an irresistible tail movement no matter the speed of the retrieve. The two-tone colors look great underwater and pair well with any similarly colored chatterbait.
This is my go-to trailer when trying to imitate a craw. This soft bait was made with chatter flipping in mind and it works great for getting deep in that hard-to-reach cover.
The shape of the claws and appendages come straight from Strike King’s original Rage Tail soft craw. Rage Bugs are 4” in length and come in an amazing 26 different colors. There is a Rage Bug out there for every situation and they can’t be beaten when it comes to craw-shaped chatter baits.
There is nothing out there today like the Yoto Worm. Not only is this one of the best chatter trailers available on the market, but it works great for other applications as well. Ribbed all the way down, the unique pintail shape of this thing delivers unmatched action behind both bladed and non-bladed jigs.
Available as a 4.75” inch model in ten different colors you can surely find a way to effectively work them into your rotation. Who knows it might just become your new favorite trailer in the process.
I hope I covered everything you need to know when it comes to the best Chatterbait and trailer choices available today. You can confidently hit the water with any combination of the above listed jigs and trailers and catch big bass – so what are you waiting for?