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29 Apr

The Best Chatterbaits for Bass Anglers: Expert’s Choice

If you were to ask any angler what the top three baits in their tackle box were, you’d probably hear about crankbaits, jigs, and soft plastics. Those are all amazing lures for bass, and we love every single one of them. We’re not even picky about the brand most of the time.

However, one amazing bait tends to be left out. That’s the chatterbait.

The chatterbait is kind of the combination of 3 different staple lures, and it offers a ton of versatility and reliability in one easy-to-use package. It’s not right for every situation, but it can perform well in most common situations.

Today, we’re going to walk you through the best chatterbaits for bass fishing and how to use them effectively.

Let’s get started.

Understanding the Role of a Chatterbait

A chatterbait is somewhat unique in the fishing world. It combines the roles of three different types of lures. It has a little in common with a jig, a spinnerbait, and a swimbait.

The design of a chatterbait is fairly simple. It’s a jig head with an embedded hook and the manufacturer attaches a silicone skirt. Usually, the jig head is just like a swim jig. 

The only thing setting it apart from a swim jig is that it has a squared-off metal flapper extending from the "face" of the jig head. This is crucial to understand because it works differently than the blades on most other lures.

The squared blade, oriented in a chatterbait manner, doesn’t just spin around and flash light everywhere. As you retrieve it, it vibrates.

This creates a more subtle, yet erratic, action that drives bass nuts. We’ll dive into how you should use a chatterbait later on, but in general, it’s a great option for drawing bass in over long distances.

Our Favorite Chatterbaits

Before we get into the chatterbait tips and tricks, you need to have a couple to use. So, here are our top recommendations to make sure you’ve got a high-quality lure that is proven to work. There won’t be any blame to put on your gear if you try our tips and don’t catch anything if you pick up one of these.

1: Z Man Chatterbait Mini Max

Z Man lures, in general, are nice baits, but the Mini Max chatterbait offers a great chatterbait option with a unique blade.

This lure comes in ¼, ½, and 3/8 weights. The “mini” doesn’t have anything to do with the main part of the lure. Instead of just shrinking your standard chatterbait, Z Man put a smaller blade on the head with a head-to-blade direct attachment point.

The smaller blade makes for a more subtle action that is more than noticeable but not so obnoxious that bass look at it and shrug it off. Think of a slight buzzing noise in the background and how irritating it can be for you. That’s what this lure does to bass, but they don’t act rationally. They go on the attack.

You can pick this lure up in 8 colors, costing $8.99. That sounds a bit steep if you’re used to budget-friendly baits, but it’s packed with premium features and designed to hold soft plastic trailers without letting go. So, you get your money’s worth.

We’d recommend running this around cover with a swimbait trailer to mimic bait fish more accurately. You can even take a longer fluke or paddle tail swimbait and chop the front 1/3 off it to make your trailers. As long as you match the colors, it’ll be sure to draw in bass from a great distance.

2: Z Man DieZel

If you want a chatterbait that hits the water hard and bass simply cannot ignore it, this is the one for you.

The Z Man DieZel doesn’t come with a skirt, but it does come with a powerful 2/0 hook, a premium lead jig head, and a built-in bait keeper that keeps your trailers from sliding off even when the bass try to play tug of war with it. To make up for the skirt, you get a swimbait trailer.

That’s what these chatterbaits excel at. You use them just like you would a normal jig with a swimbait trailer, but the large, squared blade causes loud claps and tons of vibration. This is designed to draw bass in from long distances and force reaction strikes. They want to shut this lure up.

If the lack of a skirt bothers you, it’s fairly easy to buy them ready to install, or you can even make your own. However, these are meant to be used with swimbait trailers.

These only come in ¼ ounce weights, and they’re just under $7 per unit. So, it’s a great mid-range option.

3: Z Man Naked Chatterbait Custom 2 PK

When you want a subtle lure that can perform well in spots where everything else fails, this Tackle Warehouse exclusive is your go-to lure.

The Naked Chatterbait is only found at Tackle Warehouse, and while barebones, it is made of only the most premium components available

With a Mustad hook and bait keeper guaranteed to lock onto bass and never let go, and a blade that is subtle enough to cut through clear water without spooking bass, you really can’t go wrong.

This seems like a pricier lure considering it doesn’t have any skirts or painted details, but you get two for $11, and you get the highest quality base components possible. What it lacks in little bonus features, it makes up for by being the best of the best.

Of course, this is meant to be used as a more finesse-style lure. If you’re fishing in clear water and need a subtle presentation or an area with tons of pressure, this is the lure to use. If you’re in a more optimal situation, one of our other recommendations is a great choice.

4: Z Man Project Z Weedless Chatterbait

Sometimes, you can’t afford to buzz around cover or stick to wide-open areas. The bass are in the weeds, and you need to send your lure right into the thick of it. That's where the Z Man Project Z Weedless Chatterbait comes in.

This is Z Man's standard chatterbait. That’s a high-quality option, and you won’t regret it. However, it does set itself apart. You get a built-in weed guard that helps keep the lure from getting stuck in debris in the water or latching onto thick moss mats as you skim it across the surface.

The way this works is that a small wire guard spring is attached at the “neck” of the jig head, and it hooks over the barb of the hook. This makes the hook slide over debris and other things, but when a fish bites down, the spring is pushed in, and the hook is exposed.

This is great for moss-covered ponds, thick brush piles, and other situations where you’ll likely lose similar lures without weed guards.

At $8.99, it’s also a fair option. While it’s not super budget-friendly, you're far less likely to lose it.

5: Z Man Original Chatterbait

Finally, we’ve got a super budget-friendly option that packs quality materials and craftsmanship into a package any angler can afford.

For just $3.99, you can get the original Z Man Chatterbait.

This one comes in three sizes and a wide range of color patterns to match any occasion, and while it doesn’t have a weed guard, it does keep the hook upright to make it glide over most debris. The hook will still stick into moss, but for the most part, it’s naturally weedless.

This isn’t the fanciest Z Man chatterbait, but it is highly affordable, and it still has the Z Man quality you have come to expect. After all, it's the company's first and most popular chatterbait model.

Where to Buy These Chatterbaits

All of the chatterbaits we listed can be found at Tackle Warehouse. It’s a respectable company with a longstanding reputation for providing the best gear available at fair prices, and we know you’ll be happy with your purchase.

Most of these are also sometimes available at your local tackle store. Z Man lures are widely available except for the Tackle Warehouse exclusive we mentioned. However, we can never guarantee that those stores have them in stock or the quality of the experience you’ll have working with them.

How to Use a Chatterbait

Alright, you’ve just gone to Tackle Warehouse and bought a few of our top recommendations. How do you use them?

Well, chatterbaits aren’t too complicated. If you’ve been fishing for a while, you should be able to pick up on how they work pretty quickly, and even newer anglers shouldn’t have much trouble using them.

Still, we’re going to highlight some key pointers to help you make the most of the latest additions to your tackle box. 

1: Keep Your Rod Tip Low

This is crucial when you’re using a chatterbait. You want to keep your rod tip just above the surface of the water. This will keep the lure moving straight and deep in the column. If you lift the tip, it will pull the bait up throughout the column and ruin the effect.

This can be weird to get used to since most lures don’t require you to lower your tip quite as much, but it’s nothing that won’t feel like second nature after a few casts.

You also get a ton of power when you set the hook when your rod tip is lower. There’s more space to drag your rod through the air with a yank and drive the hook home.

2: Reel Straight and Consistent

This makes chatterbaits extremely easy to use. You don’t need to worry about changing up your presentation, doing any fancy finesse stuff, or anything like that. You cast it out, drop your rod tip, and reel it in at a constant speed. You can add a twitch or two if you want, but the whole process is extremely basic.

3: Bump Cover

If you’re fishing around cover, as you should, you can bump into that cover during your retrieval to make the lure go berserk out of nowhere. This can easily trigger a bass because it looks like a bait fish that just got startled. 

This can be slightly difficult to do at first because you need to be able to judge how far you are away from the object and pull it in closely without snagging it. However, if you can pull it off, you’ll have a great technique under your belt.

4: Add an Odd Twitch Here and There

While you can simply reel the lure in straight, you’re still perfectly capable of pausing or twitching it to great effect. This will make the blade act unpredictably, but sometimes that’s what you need.

When you first get it, we recommend sticking to the basics. However, you should experiment as you go.

5: Sink it Deep

When the lure hits the water, wait a few seconds until your line develops slack. That’s when it hits the bottom. You want the chatterbait to come to a complete rest, and then start retrieving it steadily. It’ll blend in with the natural fish that way, and the subtle vibrating action will be more effective.

Try Your New Chatterbaits at the Best Spots

Once you’ve picked a few of these up, and you’re ready to use them, you need a good spot to do it. That’s where BassForecast comes in. 

Our bass fishing app provides you with tips and tricks you won’t get anywhere else, real-time weather updates, a spot-on solunar, and more. Check it out today.