Published May. 27, 2021

Consistently catching bass is no easy task. It is often a lot of trial and error to figure out what the fish want. 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 every angler needs to have in their fishing tackle box. Chatterbaits and bladed swim jigs crack the essential bass lure list.

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. 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.

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.

Best All-Around Chatterbait: Z-Man ChatterBait Pro

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When it comes to the best chatterbait, this Z-Man model is ole reliable. The heavy-duty hook paired with the molded-in keeper makes it easy to stick fish and keep your trailer attached. It is made with electro-plated stainless blades and multi-color head paint schemes. If I could only take one chatterbait with me, this is it.

Best Maximum Action Bladed Swim Jig: Strike King Thunder Cricket Swimjig

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This is another great bladed swim jig that can be used in various situations. Throw it along brush piles and weed lines and switch up your retrieve speed. This lure creates movement and draws strong reaction strikes. The fast action will help you land more fish.

Best Noisy and Flashy Chatterbait: Z-Man Jack Hammer Custom Bladed Jig

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This bladed swim jig differentiates itself from the rest. Consistent with the Z-Man chatterbait noise, this lure generates a loud knocking sound as it strikes the head. The detailed painting matches the color of the skirt to give a realistic presentation in the water. If you’re looking for flash, this is the best chatterbait for you.

Best Alternative Chatterbait: Reaction Tackle Tungsten Chatterbait

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You don’t always need the name-brand bait to catch fish. This bladed swim jig is a perfect example of the best chatterbait 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 a noise typical of this type of fishing lure, and the tungsten weight will help keep your bait from hanging up on brush. It’s a great alternative for anglers looking for a different style bladed swim jig.

Best Budget Chatterbait: Z-Man Original Chatterbait

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You don’t want to spend an insane amount of money on one lure just to lose it while fishing. There’s a reason Z-Man chatterbaits dominated this list, and it’s because they make the best there is. The original Z-Man chatterbait is one of the most affordable bladed swim jigs out there, and it’s going to produce. Often, with the best chatterbait on a budget, you sacrifice productivity but not in this case.

Methodology

I’ve been fishing my entire life, including as a member of the College of Environmental Science & Forestry Bass Fishing Team. Chatterbaits have become not only one of my favorite baits to fish, but my go-to when I need a bite. I have fished chatterbaits in various bodies of water, in various different conditions, including choked-out ponds, open water, rivers, the Great Lakes, and muddy canals. It has produced for me 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 do I turn to a chatterbait for a bite?
  • Versatility: What conditions and habitat can I catch fish with a chatterbait in?
  • Durability: Can my chatterbaits withstand relentless fishing and use?
  • Production: Do I catch fish with my chatterbaits? (the answer is yes.)

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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