The ZMan Jackhammer is one of the more intriguing and effective bass fishing lures in recent memory. It’s been said that this particular lure is capable of catching bass when no other style of bait is working. If you have this product in your tackle box, you might still be wondering just how you can use the Jackhammer to its fullest potential.
There are a few things you will need to know and understand if you want to unlock the Jackhammer’s true capabilities as it relates to bass fishing. In this article, we will cover the specific details related to the Jackhammer and provide you with some useful tips and tactics for fishing with this highly versatile lure.
Recommended ZMan Jackhammer Chatterbaits
ZMan Jackhammer Overview
The most popular new lure to hit the fishing industry in decades has been the chatterbait. It was first released in 2004 and quickly drew widespread acclaim as a mysterious lure that somehow enticed fish to bite in circumstances where other baits and lures simply couldn’t draw a single strike.
Fast forward to 2017 and ZMan Fishing Products releases the Jackhammer, which was a newer, more refined version of the skirted lure that took chatterbait fishing to a new level for many anglers. These lures were the most sought after product in the bass fishing industry in 2020 as anglers began paying nearly $100 for a single Jackhammer chatterbait on eBay due to a slight shortage and many retailers being out of stock.
The ZMan Jackhammer is a specialized adaptation of the chatterbait that’s designed by professional anglers Brett Hite and the Japanese lure manufacturer, Evergreen International. In the water, the Jackhammer has a lower center of gravity, as well as a thinner stainless steel hexagonal blade.
These traits help give the lure it’s erratic motion and make it very easy to produce the characteristic clicking and vibrating sound once you begin your retrieve. What makes the Jackhammer so much more effective than other chatterbait models is the fact that it produces its special fish-catching action as soon as it hits the water.
It’s meant to resemble a frantic baitfish swimming through the water, but the Jackhammer might also mimic a crawfish or other creatures when used in a certain manner.
How to Fish the ZMan Jackhammer
This lure is arguably the most versatile option you can have in your tackle box. Since these chatterbait style lures have only been used for roughly 15 years, many anglers are still developing new methods of catching largemouth and smallmouth bass on it.
There’s actually no wrong way to fish with the Jackhammer and numerous professional fishermen have reported filling their limit using techniques that many anglers might consider to be unorthodox for a bladed lure. Here are some of my favorite tactics to use when fishing with the Jackhammer.
The most common way many anglers will use the ZMan Jackhammer lure is a simple, steady retrieve. This is virtually identical to what you might use with most spinnerbaits and it’s recommended that you fish the Jackhammer at the same depth and in the same situations where a spinnerbait might be expected to produce bites.
This lure will mimic the motion, sound and trajectory of a wounded or disoriented bait fish when used with a steady retrieve. Unlike a spinnerbait, the chatterbait style lures won’t maintain a straight trajectory when the angler uses a steady retrieve. Instead, the lure will dip and dive to the left and right, as well as up and down while it’s moving through the water.
This erratic motion taps into a largemouth bass’ predatory instinct and drives them to chase after the lure, even at times when they might not be hungry. The unpredictable motion and action of the Jackhammer is one of the reasons why it appears to be so realistic when used with a steady retrieve.
Steady, Jerking Retrieve
Another useful technique for fishing with the Jackhammer is to throw in a few short, quick jerks of your rod tip as you are steadily retrieving the lure. This usually helps to further enhance the image of the Jackhammer being a confused baitfish that’s swimming frantically through the water looking for safety.
This style of fishing with the ZMan Jackhammer is often best incorporated when you’re using a somewhat slower retrieve. It can work when you’re blazing the lure through the water, but it’s often recommended to try slowing the lure down and giving it a few jerks or twitches to produce that sudden darting motion that fish can’t resist.
One of the lesser-known ways professional anglers have used the Jackhammer to win bass fishing tournaments is to employ the classic yo-yo retrieve to this lure. Many novice bass anglers are unaware of this style of retrieve, but it can be very effective with spinnerbaits and even crankbaits in certain circumstances.
The yo-yo retrieve involves quickly pulling up on your rod tip as you’re reeling the Jackhammer in before stopping your retrieve and allowing the lure to fall down in the water column. This tactic lets the lure cover a much wider section of water by fishing the lure both vertically and horizontally.
One of my favorite ways to use the ZMan Jackhammer is to fish it over the top of deep grass beds or certain types of moss or hydrilla. If you’re brave enough to let the lure sink into this type of vegetation, you can quickly rip it up out of the grass or hydrilla to maintain your retrieve. Doing this often triggers a reaction strike from any bass that are hiding in the dense cover.
Best ZMan Jackhammer Rod and Reel Setup
When I want to fish with the Jackhammer, I’ll typically go for my fastest baitcasting reel as this allows me to keep a tight light, even when I’m fishing this lure with a yo-yo or jerking retrieve. I prefer a gear ratio that’s at least 6.3:1, but using a 7.3:1 or greater ratio opens up the door to more variations in your retrieval method.
I also like to use a medium-heavy rod that’s at least 7’ long and also equipped with a fast tip, which helps give the Jackhammer that special, erratic action bass can’t resist. You can also opt for using a moderate size fishing line that’s roughly 16 pound test fluorocarbon line.
Most anglers who know they’ll be ripping the Jackhammer through vegetation will go with heavier braided line as they would much rather crank the lure out with a wad of grass piled on it than have it break off due to the line not being strong enough.
There really isn’t a wrong way to fish with the ZMan Jackhammer and you might even discover a new technique yourself while experimenting with this outstanding lure. You might also want to add a soft plastic fluke or other type of trailer with the Jackhammer to leverage certain conditions when the bass are looking for any type of shad-imitation.
The Jackhammer is a lure that truly allows you to get creative with and use in virtually any situation throughout the entire year to trigger bites from hungry or even sluggish bass. The best way to learn how to use this lure is to get out on the water and fish with it so you can develop your own special tactics that work in certain situations.