How to Fish a Chatterbait
Since the original launch of the Zman Chatterbait success of these odd lures spread like wildfire.
They were hailed as a hybrid lure somewhere between a spinnerbait and a swim jig.
The terms chatterbait and bladed swim jig are used interchangeably.
When fishing a chatterbait you need to be aware of what type of water it performs best on.
What is a ChatterBait ?
A chatterbait is essentially a bladed swim jig. They have a hexagonal blade that vibrates back and forth that is mounted in front of the jig head.
This motion is why it gives off such a distinctive noise and hence the name 'chatter' bait.
They can be rigged with a trailer, which is usually some kind of soft plastic lure. This adds a little more life into them also helps to hide the hook even further.
How to Fish a Chatterbait
The best way to fish a chatterbait is in and around heavy weed cover, over gravel beds and over the tops of submerged trees.
Chatterbait fishing is particularly effective when bass make their seasonal moves towards more shallow holding areas.
Slower techniques using various different bass rigs are a lot more effective in colder months. But ripping lures such as bladed swim jigs is rarely attempted.
1. Weed Cover
There are generally two types of weed or grass that you need to concern yourself with, heavy and light.
When fishing a chatterbait around heavy weed the best approach is to fish it right over the top of the grass tips.
Burning a chatterbait at speed really makes that blade sing and will most definitely make bass sit up and pay attention to your lure.
Bass like to stay camouflaged in weed so look for spots in the weed were there is a sign of recent disturbances or a natural clearing.
In lighter grass beds you can fish the chatterbait directly through it and just above it, varying your depth and speed.
They are fairly weedless however the clip in front and the blade can get fouled up so it is good practice to regularly clean them and remove even the slightest build up
When fished through weeds a chatterbait will be superior to a spinnerbait as due to their design a spinnerbait can get fouled up with a lot of weed on it's wire frame.
2. Gravel Beds
Smallmouth bass in particular are very fond of hanging out over gravel or shell beds during the summer heat.
In this instance you can work a chatterbait low and slow.
Aim to run your lure along the top of the gravel occasionally touching so that a small bit of sad or light gravel is disturbed.
These types of visual stimulation's can be the difference between a bass striking you lure and just inspecting it.
Combined with the very distinctive sound that a bladed jig makes bass will tend to chase these lures a lot.
It is crucial to vary your retrieval rate to make sure that the bait looks as natural as possible.
Another technique for chatterbaits that works well over gravel is yo-yo'ing.
The yo-yo retrieve involves casting your lure out allowing it to sink until it touches bottom.
Now raise your rod tip and move the lure upwards and towards you, reeling in any slack.
You then let it sink again and continue this pattern until the lure is back near the boat.
Yo-yo'ing works extremely well on sandy or gravel bottoms as there will be less snags to get caught up on and the impact on he bottom can also raise a small cloud of dirt.
3. Submerged Trees
Old logs and stumps make a great ambush spot for bass to lay in wait for a tasty snack.
Work a chatterbait over the tops and in and around any branches taking are not to get snagged as you go.
Vary the retrieve as a method to adjust the height you are working at.
If you need to run shallower over a branch raise your rod tip and increase the speed that the lure is moving at. This will help it to rise up over the the branch.
Once clear you can then slow down the chatterbait to allow it to drop a couple of feet.
You can repeat this pattern over and over but only if you can see all the snags.
Chatterbait Fishing Tips
1. Slow Your Strike
A slower strike and hook-set seems to be the best way to use a chatterbait and really increase you hook up rates.
This is particularly true if you are using a large soft plastic trailer. Give the bass split second or pause to allow them to really engulf the chatterbait in their mouth.
Failure to do this can result in a lot of missed hook sets, you will be literally ripping the lure right out of their mouths if you strike too quickly.
2. Vary the Retrieve
Vary the retrieve regardless of how and where you are fishing will make the bladed jig seem far more natural.
Not only that, it will also have a big effect on the noise and the vibration that the chatterbait blade will be giving off through the water.
3. Slow Roll
Slow rolling works great in colder water temperatures. In open water if you are casting along the side of drop offs or other deep structures you can work the chatterbait right down where the bass will be in the deeper depths.
You'll need to use a fairly large chatterbait for this and stay away from light and smaller sizes.
Any decent medium/heavy baitcasting setup that you have can work for both a chatterbait or spinnerbait.
A best chatterbait rods tend to have a lot of backbone as you will be fishing them around heavy cover and hauling a bass through thick weed is next to impossible on a light weight spinning setup.
Look for a rod that has a medium/heavy power rating and a fast action. There is an argument for a more moderate action similar to a crankbait style setup as it can slow down your hook-set ever so slightly.