Chatterbait Fishing – Setup/Where, When & How To Use

Written By James Smith

Keen fisherman here to offer advice and help for reels, rods and gear.

Whether you’re new to bass fishing or you’ve been doing it for years, odds are you’ve heard of a chatterbait – it is one of the most effective lures used in bass fishing and is loved by pro anglers and weekend warriors alike.

If you want to use a chatterbait for the first time, or you simply need to refresh your knowledge, these essential setup tips will help you have success on the water and may even be the reason you catch the big bass of your dreams.

What Is A Chatterbait

The chatterbait was first invented by tackle company Z-Man, and since its inception in 2006 has been a revolutionary addition to the bass fisherman’s arsenal. Although a relatively new bass fishing lures innovation, the chatterbait is highly regarded among other classics such as spinnerbaits, jigs, crankbaits, and jerk baits.

Also known as a bladed jig, a chatterbait is essentially just that. It resembles a standard skirted flipping jig, but with a metal blade at the head. This blade creates a tight, wobbling swimming action and lots of vibration and noise that bass simply can’t ignore.

In addition, a chatterbait is not complete without a soft plastic trailer. The trailer is threaded onto the hook to give the lure more body, action, and a more realistic look. There are many different options for trailers that will be explained in more detail later.

How To Fish A Chatterbait

Using a chatterbait couldn’t be easier, which is another reason why it’s so popular for bass fishing in many areas. The easiest way to fish a chatterbait is to cast it out and make a steady retrieve.

Make as many casts as you want to cover a large area and improve your chances of a bite. When you feel any amount of resistance in the line, simultaneously reel fast and swing your rod back to set the hook. It’s that easy.

Another way to fish a chatterbait that can potentially lead to more bites is to make occasional quick pauses in your retrieve. Oftentimes that quick pause is when bass will strike. In the same idea, you can also do quick “pops” with your reel by reeling faster for just a split second during your retrieve.

white chatterbait under water

One more way to fish a chatterbait is to fish it in heavy cover like downed trees, rocks, and grassy areas. When the bait deflects off the structure, it will create more action and noise that will convince bass to take a closer look and entice a bite.

When To Use

The great thing about a chatterbait is it can be utilized at any time of the year with varying degrees of success, but there are certain times of year and conditions when they work best.

In general, the best time of year to use a chatterbait is in the spring and early summer, in the period known as the pre-spawn and early spawn. Bass will spend most of their time in shallow water structures during the pre-spawn and early spawn, which makes for a great opportunity to use a chatterbait.

Underwater Bass Fish Attacking On Lure

Aside from the time of year, perhaps the best water conditions to use a chatterbait are when water visibility is murky. The vibration and noise will allow bass to locate your lure without needing to see it, which is something that can’t be achieved by many other types of lures.

Where To Use

A chatterbait can just as easily be used in open water as it can around thick cover, so there are many situations where you may want to tie one on. As a general rule, however, they work best in shallow water where there is plenty of structure or cover from things like grass, brush, and rocks.

These areas that hold structure are where bass spend most of their time during the spring and early summer, when chatterbaits are the most effective. You can also cover a wide area of open water, provided you’re covering an area such as a depth change, rock ledge, or other submerged structure where bass congregate.

What Reel & Line To Use

To use a chatterbait to its utmost potential, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right rod, reel, and line combination.

For fishing with a chatterbait, start with a baitcasting reel with a gear ratio between 6:1 and 7:1, a medium-heavy power, moderate action 7’ to 7’3” casting rod, and 50-pound braided line with a 15-pound monofilament leader.

This rod, reel, line, and leader combination will give you the best control of the lure, and the leverage and line strength you’ll need to get fish out of heavy cover.

How To Pick The Right Chatterbait & Trailer

As mentioned earlier, chatterbaits are extremely prevalent, so there are many options to choose from. To choose the best Chatterbait and trailer, there are a few key things to look out for.

By far the best quality Chatterbaits will have a strong high quality hook, good bait keeper, and a thick steel blade. One aspect that separates a good Chatterbait from a bad one is if the blade is connected directly to the eye of the jig head and not through a double split ring. Chatterbaits with the direct blade to jig head connection have a superior action that starts the moment it hits the water, which is key.

As an example, a popular Chatterbait known as the Z-Man Jackhammer is the most expensive Chatterbait on the market. You may wonder; is the jackhammer worth the money? As the best-selling Chatterbait in production, many people think so. This is because the Jackhammer is constructed with quality in mind, so if you have the budget, it’s worth the money.

For trailers, there are nearly unlimited options, but the most popular are swimbait style or craw style baits. If you’re trying to imitate baitfish like bluegill or shad, a swimbait style is ideal, and a craw style is of course best for imitating crayfish.

What color chatter bait to use?

Choosing the right color Chatterbait will depend on what works well in your area. If, for example, green pumpkin works well for you, stick with that color. If you’re not sure what color to pick, try to match the color of the prey you’re trying to imitate. For instance, white works well with baitfish.

Wrapping Things Up

If you’ve never used a Chatterbait for bass fishing, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. With these essential tips, you now have the right knowledge at your fingertips to be successful on your next fishing trip, so get out there and catch some big bass!

Check out our new guide on how to use a spinnerbait to catch even more bass.