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Updated Jan 11, 2023 9:59 PM

The best chatterbaits help you catch more bass. Period. It may take some trial and error to dial in what the fish want (color, size, and action), but there aren’t many other baits as effective and productive as bladed swim jigs. The key is to tailor your bait to the area and conditions you fish in. Your lure of choice is going to depend on several factors like water temperature, time of year, and location. Even with all these variables, there are some bass baits—like chatterbaits—that every angler needs to have in their tackle box.

Chatterbaits, also known as bladed swim jigs, are moving baits that often produce reaction strikes from aggressive bass. Throw these lures around structure, docks, and weeds to produce bites. They are one of my favorite prespawn bass baits and have given me some of my biggest bass to date. Any area with structure, grass, or a laydown is perfect for chatterbaits. Early spring in the Northeast is an ideal time to throw chatterbaits as bass are moving in shallow and crushing bait. Aggressive, reactive strikes are the name of the game with chatterbaits. Here are my top choices for the best chatterbaits to catch more bass.

How I Made My Picks

Chatterbaits have become not only one of my favorite baits to fish but my absolute go-to when I need a bite. I’ve fished chatterbaits in various bodies of water and different conditions, including choked-out ponds, open water, rivers, the Great Lakes, and muddy canals. It has produced in all of these environments, and I am confident that the right bladed swim jig will also produce for you. I based my selections on the following criteria:

  • Usability: How often is the bait effective?
  • Versatility: What conditions and habitats do these baits produce fish in?
  • Durability: Can my chatterbaits withstand relentless cast, fish, and use?
  • Production: Do these baits catch fish? (the answer is yes.)
Chelius with bass
The author with a 3-pound 12-ounce largemouth bass. Ryan Chelius

The Best Chatterbaits for Bass: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Z-Man ChatterBait Pro

This is the best chatterbait, hands down. It comes in a variety of skirt colors to match whatever trailer or bait is common in your area. Add the heavy-duty hook paired with the molded-in keeper and stainless blades, and you have the most durable chatterbait on the market. This is crucial for these lures because they get the hell beat out of them. And that’s exactly what I did to test the Z-Man chatterbait pro. I bounced it off rocks, logs, and tore it through brush. The pro held up to it all and continued to stick bass all through the prespawn and into post spawn.

Best for Action: Strike King Thunder Cricket Swimjig

The thunder cricket is another premium bladed swim jig that is extremely durable and well-built. My favorite thing about this lure is that it can be fished anywhere in the water column and produces strikes on fast and slow retrieves. It comes in three different weight options—3/8 oz., 1/2 oz., and 5/ oz.—and 14 different skirt patterns, so you can match bait without a problem. It moves well in the water and offers plenty of versatility with retrieve speeds without getting hung up on brush and structure.

Best Noise and Flash: Z-Man Jack Hammer Custom Bladed Jig

This bladed swim jig differentiates itself from the rest. Consistent with the Z-Man chatterbait noise, this lure generates a loud knocking sound as the head strikes the bottom. The detailed painting matches the color of the skirt to give a realistic presentation in the water. I like to throw jack hammer when my other chatterbaits aren’t producing strikes. Sometimes the noise and flashy colors are enough to spur strikes when the other bladed swim jigs can’t.

Best Alternative: Reaction Tackle Tungsten Chatterbait

You don’t always need the name-brand bait to catch fish. This bladed swim jig is a perfect example of an alternative option if you want to switch it up. You can purchase it in ½ ounce or ⅜ ounce, and it comes in a 2-pack. It generates an enticing noise, and the tungsten weight will help keep your bait from hanging up on brush. It has a different look than many of the premium chatterbaits, and I like the realistic look of the jighead.

Best Budget Chatterbait: Z-Man Original Chatterbait

Losing chatterbaits is not only frustrating and expensive, but it’s also inevitable. So, if you’re prone to losing lures, the Z-Man original is a great budget option. It comes in four different weights and a variety of colors. It is one of the most affordable bladed swim jigs out there, and it’s going to produce. Often, with budget lures, you sacrifice productivity, but not in this case.

Things to Consider Before Buying Chatterbaits

Color

First, you will want to consider color. I like to have a variety of colors for different situations. For instance, if the water is dark and murky, you will want a darker colored skirt. The idea is to match the baitfish in the area as much as possible and have the right colors for different types of water clarity. For clearer water, I’ll select a more natural color like a green pumpkin. Water clarity and color change on a daily basis due to weather, time of year, and other uncontrollable factors. Have multiple color skirts at all times for any situation that arises.

Weight

You need to make sure you have various weighted chatterbaits in your box. Having a diverse selection of weights cannot be understated. Depending on water depth and vegetation you don’t want your bait to go too deep and get snagged. While you also don’t want it to be too light and above the water column the bass are feeding in. A few different weights should do the trick. I like to have 1/4 oz., 3/8 oz., and 1/2 oz. in my box. My go-to is 3/8 oz., but it’s nice to have a deeper option with the 1/2 oz. when you need it.

Trailers

Think of your trailer as the other half of your chatterbait. The right trailer will maximize your odds of landing fish. The main considerations here are color, size, and design. This goes back to the “match the hatch” ideology—water clarity will dictate your color selection and the size and design is based on local baitfish. What are bass feeding on in your region? Try to match this as much as possible with design and size. When in doubt, the more articulation, the better. Remember you’re trying to spark a reaction strike.

Rod, Reels, & Lines

Now I am really getting nitpicky, but having an ideal setup for chatterbait fishing will only increase your chances of connecting with a giant. Let me be clear, you don’t need a specific rod, reel, or line to fish chatterbaits. But if you have the option, then hear me out. A longer, suffer rod paired with a baitcasting reel is going to be ideal for chatterbaits. This helps extend the range of my casts and slam the hookset home—especially in weeds. I fish with braided line to help with hooksets and add more strength.

FAQs

Q: When should I fish a chatterbait?

Fish chatterbaits during prespawn, around grass, and in 3 to 6 feet of water. You are trying to produce a reaction strike, and chatterbaits do well in and around cover. Work structure and cover edges in early spring when fish are actively feeding.

Q: What color chatterbait skirt should I buy?

The color of your chatterbait skirt and trailer should match the conditions. If the water is stained, murky, and dark, then fish a darker-colored skirt. If the water is crystal clear, then fish more natural-colored skirts and trailers.

Q: When should I throw a chatterbait or spinnerbait?

This is a popular question, and the main deciding factor is weeds and grass. Chatterbaits excel in grassy areas, while spinnerbaits will get hung up on almost every cast. If you’re targeting grass, then go with the chatterbait. Throw your spinners on cloudy and windy days in areas where you won’t get hung up.

Final Thoughts

Chatterbaits are a must-have for bass anglers nowadays. They are a reliable and effective lure that will produce strikes when nothing else will. The chatterbait is a confidence bait for myself and my absolute go-to during prespawn. When you begin to dial in when and where to throw chatterbaits your hookup ratio will go through the roof.

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