How to Fish a Chatterbait – Three Secrets for All Seasons
Bass fishermen everywhere want to know the best ways on how to fish a chatterbait. Now becoming one of the most popular fishing lures for bass fishing, chatterbait or bladed jigs are favoured because of their flexibility and high effectiveness in different situations.
I have great experience with this bait. In fact, I was using it for the first time when I hooked a fish on first cast. I was using spinnerbait for the longest time without any luck.
I later found out the drought was more because of the wrong bait that I was using than my luck. To the uninitiated, chatterbaits are essentially a jig that has one blade attached to it.
Whenever I go sharing my exciting experience with this bait, people always ask me how a single blade helped me land more fish. Unknown to many, the secret is in the blade as it gives great vibration and clicking sound once you retrieve it.
These two characteristics are vital when you are out fishing in muddy water. The best part though, is that you can also use these baits as effectively in non-muddy water.
What You Need to Fish a Chatterbait
To use a chatterbait properly, there are three secrets you can use for all seasons:
- Know when, where, and how
- Know the right size and color
- Know the right trailer
When, Where, and How
You can use this bait all year round. Despite the amount of vibration it brings, this bait is still subtle in nature. It is capable of helping you catch big fish and you can cover a big amount of water with it as well. Of course, there are different tactics for different seasons.
Winter, for one, is a tricky time especially since the fish have moved to deeper waters. If you have plans of braving the cold, one of the best strategies is to follow the baitfish.
At this time of the year, I find using 3/8 White and Silver chatterbait together with a matching swimbait trailer quite effective. I find retrieving vertically with a bit of a jig quite useful.
It is also important to keep your rod tip lifted as the bait approaches the boat. Doing so will keep the bait vertical and it stays within the strike zone longer.
During the spring, the chatterbait is a shining beacon that triggers the most explosive hits I have experienced. As the waters warm, fish tend to hang out more on sections of the water where there’s a shallow flat that drops off.
They also tend to stay near rocks and woods. As for retrieval, I prefer slow motions during this time of the year. I like to leave my bait swimming just near where the bottom is.
Be vigilant especially on the shallow areas since most of the time, they hit near the shoreline. As far as color selection goes, the best way to determine the right ones is to base it on the food selection in springtime.
Perch, crawfish, and sunfish are the favourites at this time of the year. This is why I go for colours similar to green pumpkin, sunfish, motor oil, watermelon, and perch.
I always go with 3/8 ounce, but I notice smaller ones such as those with ¼ size gets more love in springtime.
In summer, I go for fishing at night and chatterbait is an outstanding bait to use mainly because of the intense vibration it gives off. It just gets the fish over the edge!
In terms of presentation, I notice there is no specific preference so I end up experimenting with the trailer. I sometimes use shorter trailers if I don’t get any bites. If that doesn’t work, I just use the chatterbait without the trailer.
When fall comes, you will notice changes in where you caught fish during summer. Thermocline is a big factor in this change of behaviour. This is why I find using different retrieval strategies to be the key.
Sometimes, jigging the chatterbait works very well. Retrieving it the same way you do a jerkbait has produced good results as well. Keep in mind it is the bait’s quick pop and slow flutter that gets the fish worked up.
Right Size and Color
I don’t get too complicated with chatterbait. It is the vibration that gets the fish more than the color or the look of the plastic. Don’t get me wrong though, it does help when you rig up with a similar color to what the fish is feeding on.
For this, I stick with four colors – green pumpkin, white, black and blue, and white and chartreuse. I like using Phoenix Vibrating jigs for its coloured blades and better hooks.
As for the size, I have been using 3/8 ounce more often, although I also use ¼ ounce every now and then depending on the season and scenario I am in.
Trailer is a big part of your success in using chatterbait. So far, I have used Biffle Bug, Sweet Swimmer, and Slat Craw from Gene Larew as I find them very efficient and flexible.
A simple but important tip is to use a gel Super Glue to make sure your plastics are well attached to the hooks. You will thank me for this!
Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Chatterbait
Now that you somehow know how a chatterbait works, it is time to go out and catch a fish. Remember the fish changes behaviour in different seasons. Generally, here is how you catch fish using chatterbait.
Find the Right Place to Cast
I often cast parallel to the shore, and then slowly fan out until you feel bites. Oftentimes, bass are found 10-15 feet from the shore.
Once you find the strike zone, always retrieve parallel to the shore so you can stay longer within the target area.
In most cases, I find retrieving in a slow and steady pace to be more effective than jigging up and down the whole time. Another factor to consider here though is the weather.
Colder water means the fish is less active. This is when you should be retrieving slowly. On the other hand, cranking the bait is more effective when there is a lot of action from the fish.
The best thing about chatterbaits is they are flexible, so use this to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the retrieval, the trailer, and the lure’s look.
You can, for example, remove the skirt from the bait so it looks smaller and you can retrieve it faster without jumping up the surface. Bass also gets curious about food that looks different.
I love using chatterbaits because they make fishing more fun especially when they make the fish go crazy. It is also interesting as there are different ways on how to fish a chatterbait.
You can beef up the trailer, experiment with the presentation, and try different retrieval techniques. It adds skill and creativity into fishing!
If you share my enthusiasm for chatterbaits, or you would like to know more about it, feel free to leave a comment or some tips below for other anglers to try as well.