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Chatterbaits are some of the most effective lures for catching bass and other predatory fish. The standard chatterbait, also known as a vibrating or bladed jig, consists of a blade hinged onto the front of a jighead. This combination creates an aggressive and erratic action that many fish species can’t resist. Whether you’re fishing for pre-spawn largemouths in submerged vegetation, redfish along the coast, or bronzebacks in shallow water, there’s a bladed jig for you. 

While these baits work well on species other than black bass, the vast majority of bladed jigs are used for targeting largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass in freshwater. To keep things as simple as possible, the majority of our chatterbait recommendations are focused on specific situations for bass fishing, with a few options for other species. So, before you go and buy the first chatterbait on the shelf, read through this guide to find the best chatterbaits for specific fishing situations.

Best Z-Man Chatterbaits

The Rest of the Best Bladed Jigs

largemouth bass caught on chatterbait
A largemouth that crushed the Z-Man Big Blade Chatterbait. Shaye Baker

How We Picked the Best Chatterbaits

While the term chatterbait is a trademark of Z-Man Fishing Products, it’s important to note that we aren’t just talking about Z-Man baits. Z-Man owns the original chatterbait, but the term chatterbait is commonly used to refer to all bladed and vibrating jigs. We considered this in our selection of the best chatterbaits, using the terms vibrating jig, bladed jig, and chatterbait interchangeably at times while being sure to be brand-specific when applicable.

Since this style of bait rose to national acclaim in the mid-to-late 2000s, it’s been on the deck of serious bass anglers worldwide. I’ve been fishing with a bladed jig for two decades and have tested the vast majority of models Z-Man offers and a few other popular brands of bladed jigs. Though other companies have been in the bladed jig game for over a decade, Z-Man still offers the most expansive lineup of chatterbaits, with over a dozen designs tailor-made for specific situations. 

We selected several Z-Man lures specifically for bass fishing and noted a couple that are productive for catching other species. Don’t worry; we also tested a few non-Z-Man bladed jigs, which are fantastic in their own right and very popular among anglers.

largemouth bass caught on chatterbait
Chatterbaits are one of the most popular and effective lures for catching bass. Shimano

The Best Z-Man Chatterbaits: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Evergreen Jack Hammer Chatterbait

When talking about the best of chatterbaits, you have to take into account the opinion of one of the best bladed jig anglers of all time, Brett Hite. In 2008, Hite won back-to-back national events with a bladed jig, pocketing $250,000 along the way. He put the bladed jig on the map, and fishermen everywhere took notice.

Though Hite used a Phenix Vibrating Jig to win those two events nearly two decades ago, one in Florida and the other in California, he’s long since been a fan of Z-Man chatterbaits, even helping design the Z-Man Evergreen Jack Hammer—which he considers the best bladed jig ever created. 

The Jack Hammer has a hand-tied skirt, a strong, sharp Gamakatsu heavy-wire flipping hook, and a double-wire trailer keeper. The combination of a unique head design paired with a super-thin metal blade sends the Jack Hammer chattering as soon as it hits the water. Quality components and attention to detail, like marking the weight of each bait beneath its head, are what sets the Jack Hammer apart from the rest of the pack.

Best Value: Chatterbait Elite EVO Bladed Jig

One of Z-Man’s newer creations, the Elite EVO, is a good chatterbait for a reasonable price. It has all the features of a quality bladed jig, like a strong sharp hook, ribbed trailer keeper, and strong line tie. Each of the 12 skirt color choices also comes with matching blade designs. The blades are a mix of glossy, matte, sparkly, polished, and textured coatings, creating a custom feel without increasing the price. Like the Jack Hammer, the EVO even has the weight of each bait marked on the underside of the head, something that makes restocking your favorite lures much easier.

Best Budget: Original Chatterbait

Simple and traditional in design, the Z-Man Original Chatterbait is a bass-catching machine. What sets it apart from other bladed jigs, even other Z-Man chatterbaits, is the line tie design. Years ago, the clip used for the line tie would sometimes bend out on large fish. Z-Man has since sourced a beefier clip for their other chatterbaits, but uses a twisted wire with a ring on each end as opposed to a quick clip for the Original Chatterbait. It solved the issue of bending out on big fish while still keeping costs low.

Best for Clear Water: Chatterbait Evergreen StealthBlade

In an effort to create a bladed jig for high-pressure finesse situations, Z-Man partnered with lure designer Evergreen International to birth a vibrating jig with a clear, polycarbonate blade. This bait still starts kicking as soon as it hits the water, but there is a noticeable, subtler difference in its vibration compared to a metal blade. The obvious absence of flash reduces its footprint, making it a better selection for finesse and high-pressure situations. Pairing a translucent skirt color, like Spot Remover, with the clear blade and subtle action gives you the best clear water vibrating jig on the market.

Best Skirtless: Willowvibe Chatterbait

While the vast majority of chatterbaits are skirted, a few are comprised of just a blade and a jighead—the best of which is the WillowVibe. Dumping the misconception that a bladed jig must have a skirt, Z-Man took it a step further into the unknown and incorporated a willow leaf blade instead of the standard five-sided blade synonymous with the bladed jig category. The result? A masterpiece. 

The WillowVibe is a unique bait that shimmies and shakes its way down a lane of its own. With an action landing somewhere between a traditional chatterbait and a scrounger jighead, this is a great piece of terminal tackle to pair with a small swimbait or fluke. It excels in finesse situations that call for something a little less aggressive and intimidating than a full-blown skirted chatterbait.

Best Undersized: MinMax Chatterbait

The Z-Man MiniMax was introduced to give power fishermen a beefed-up version of the popular Chatterbait Mini. The Mini, a great bait for fishing in ponds, creeks, and lakes, couldn’t quite hold up to the pressure of anglers who prefer to throw a chatterbait on heavy gear through dense cover. Thus, the MiniMax was born. 

The MiniMax stays true to the smaller profile of the Mini, with a blade roughly half the size of the one on the Original Chatterbait. But in comparison to the Mini, the MiniMax has a beefier hook, a more compact head design, and three weight options (1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 ounce) instead of just 1/4 ounce. The skirt is also hand-tied, and the soft plastic trailer keeper takes a two-pronged approach to hold your favorite trailer in place. It is a tournament-quality bait in a compact package.

MiniMax chatterbait
The author holding a Z-Man MiniMax Chatterbait. Shaye Baker

Best Oversized: Big Blade Chatterbait

Just when you thought there was no way to make a chatterbait different, Z-Man went and magnified the blade. The Big Blade ChatterBait sports a massive blade in comparison to all of Z-Man’s other bladed jigs. In addition to the oversized blade, this chatterbait brings a gaff of a hook to the table with a heavy-duty 6/0 Mustad UltraPoint hook. 

Though it is available in three fairly heavy sizes (from 1/2 to 3/4 ounces), you won’t be burning this bladed jig back in. It is designed for slow rolling retrieves, allowing the big blade to catch water and rock the bait back and forth with a wide, aggressive, but slower action.

Best for Night Fishing: ProjectZ Chatterbait

If you’ve never thrown a chatterbait at night, you’re missing out. Spinnerbaits with big Colorado blades have been a night fishing staple for decades. But savvy anglers are starting to realize the potential chatterbaits hold for night fishing. While you can swap a chatterbait out for a spinnerbait at night, a heavy version of this lure offers something entirely different. A 3/4-ounce ProjectZ Chatterbait folds up and falls much faster than a 3/4-ounce or even 1-ounce magnum Colorado blade spinnerbait. This allows you to target summer bass more efficiently when they are staging in deeper water.

Best for Panfish: Z-Man Micro Chatterbait 

If you’re fishing in a creek or pond for whatever will bite, the Micro Chatterbait is a fantastic little tool to keep in your box. Coming in at a mere 1/8 ounce, the Micro is the smallest of Z-Man’s lineup, but it still packs a punch with a penny-sized blade that kicks like its larger companions. Still, this little morsel won’t intimidate finicky or small fish like the bigger baits might.

Best for Saltwater: Z-Man DieZel Chatterbait

Chatterbaits can work just as well on saltwater species like redfish, snook, and stripers. The DieZel Chatterbait is specifically designed to target saltwater species. These baits come skirtless and are paired with Z-Man’s nearly indestructible DieZel MinnowZ swimbaits, made from super durable ElaZtech material. Throw them anywhere you would cast a typical swimbait and wait for it to get crushed.

The Rest of the Best Chatterbaits

Strike King Thunder Cricket

Strike King, an industry leader in bait design and production, offers their own version of the vibrating jig that has caught the attention of thousands of bass anglers. Strike King altered the blade design with their baits, veering away from the five-sided blades that most other vibrating jigs carry. The Thunder Cricket is available in three models that sport three dozen different blade/skirt color combinations. They also offer baits in four different weights (3/8, 1/2, 5/8, and 3/4 ounces) and two different head materials (lead or tungsten).

Googan Clickbait

The Googan Squad took the vibrating jig concept and went an entirely different route with the design. The result was something that looks different, but performs similarly. The positioning of the bigger blade further out makes this bait better for slow rolling than several other vibrating jigs, somewhat similar to what you see with the Big Blade Chatterbait. Available in a more limited range of nine colors and two sizes, the Clickbait doesn’t offer as many variations. But the bait’s different action and presentation make it worth mentioning.

Berkley Slobber Knocker

Berkley is a frontrunner in the fishing industry due to the vastness of baits, lines, rods, reels, and other fishing gear they offer. So, it’s no surprise that their take on the vibrating jig is another masterpiece. Using a metal wire to connect the blade to the jig through a molded hole in the jighead, this vibrating jig is certainly a little different. Berkley also incorporated their PowerBait scent technology into the hand-tied skirt of this bait, making it even more unique in comparison to other bladed jigs. Available in 12 colors and two sizes (3/8 and 1/2 ounces), the lineup has a fair amount of versatility.

Why trust us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.