10 Tips for Fishing a Chatterbait for Bass

A Chatterbait, also called the Vibrating Jig or the Bladed Swim Jig, is a popular and powerful fishing lure for bass. Professional tournament winners Brett Hite and Bryan Thrift made the lures famous in the late 2000s. The hype around chatterbait has cooled off today, but the lures remain a go-to for catching bass.

Here are a few quick tips to show you how to start fishing a chatterbait for bass with ease.

1. Look for Predictable Bass Patterns

Because chatterbaits work best when bass are shallow and active, understanding a little about your prey is helpful when fishing a chatterbait for bass. Bass tend to move in predictable patterns. You can anticipate their movements, particularly from spring to fall.

The best seasons to know include:

  • Pre-spawn: When the water begins to warm, bass begin moving toward coves or spawning flats. They also feed a lot to get ready for the spawning season. Chatterbaits are great for luring large females during this time.
  • Spawn: Chatterbaits work well as search bait during spawning season to find fish on the beds in grass-covered or stained-water areas.
  • Post spawn: Large female bass move from the spawning flats after the spawning season, but they start slowly. You can use chatterbaits to intercept them at nearby covers or grasses.
  • Summer: When summer hits and the grass fills in, you’ll need to move back to the weed edges to use a chatterbait. Try slow-rolling it like spinnerbait.
  • Fall: The fall months lead to more shade in the shallow water, making it more ideal for bass. A bright-colored jig is beneficial in this season as well.

2. Avoid Rocks

Using a chatterbait can help you catch bass around and in shallow cover and grass. They’re versatile, but they don’t handle areas with lots of rocks well. These types of cover make it more likely for your jig to snag.

3. Go Where the Fish Are

The vibrating jig works well nearly anywhere. You can use it no matter what type of cover or characteristics are near the water.

But if you want to ensure you catch some fish right away, head to one of the best places to catch bass. The right area for you varies based on your location, the type of bass, and the time of the year. That said, the fish live in predictable places. Look for bass in the following locations:

  • Shallow and mid-depth grass: Chatterbaits perform well in submerged grass that’s between one and six feet deep. If the grass is thick, use your lure along the weed tops or around scattered weeds.
  • Wood: Wood targets like stumps are great places to find bass, but you’ll need to work the lure around the wood without snagging.
  • Docks: You could use a chatterbait as dock bait, which is beneficial when there’s grass growing around a dock in the spring or early summer. Bass feed nearby before and after they spawn.
  • Shell beds: Mussel beds along the bottom of the water tend to attract schools of bass in the summer, so crawl your chatterbait there to land some of the biggest fish.

4. Use The 4 Main Bass Fishing Techniques

Chatterbaits are total game-changers. They’re highly versatile and used in multiple ways. All you really have to do is cast and retrieve. But no lure can do all the work for you. Use these four main techniques when fishing a chatterbait for bass for the best results:

  • Burning: Burning is when you reel the chatterbait in quickly until the blade is near the surface, causing a wake in the water that looks like fleeing baitfish.
  • Slow rolling: The opposite of burning, this technique keeps your bait where the fish are more likely to bite it. Move the reel handle slowly as you turn, making sure you feel the blade thump.
  • Shaking: As the name implies, you shake the chatterbait as you retrieve your line. The bait jumps around erratically, which is an excellent way to catch bass in tall or submerged grass if you have a clear path for the fishing line.
  • Ripping: If the bass is watching your bait go right by, try ripping the bait to get them to bite. Reel the chatterbait toward the top of the grass slowly, then snap your wrist and rip the bait free from the grass.

When you’re casting, try aiming for a structure or area with cover. Allow the bait to sink, then retrieve it steadily. The slow movement lets the blade vibrate and attract bass because they’re predominately an ambush predator.

5. Try a 7-Foot Medium to Heavy Action Rod

Fishing with a chatterbait works for most rods. However, the best rod for chatterbait is a medium to heavy action rod. Look for a size between 6’6” and 7-feet with a fast tip.

Most people prefer the 7-foot rod in most situations because it has the power you need to pull a large bass from thick grass while still having the control that comes with a shorter rod.

When you’re casting and reeling in your line, you want to feel the vibration from the bait traveling through the rod and into your hand. The vibration stops when you have a fish on the hook. Medium action rods are great tools to make sure you can feel the action.

6. Check Your Fishing Line

Line selection is often more complicated than it seems. With so many fishing line options to choose from, which one is ideal for chatterbait?

The fishing line that’s right for you depending on the water. Use a 30 pound braided line for slightly stained and dirty waters. Clearwater calls for between 15 and 18 pound fluorocarbon fishing lines.

7. Match the Weight to the Water Depth

The majority of the time, you could probably use a ½-oz chatterbait. It’s a great weight for keeping the bait down in most water depths without problems. However, if you’re fishing in deeper or more shallow waters, you may need a different weight.

Try using a ⅜ or ¼ oz weight if you notice the chatterbait keeps getting stuck in the grass. Likewise, the job may ride too high in the water if the weight is too light. You can move up to a ¾ or 1oz chatterbait if you’re fishing in water 10 feet deep or more.

8. Choose Colors Strategically

The color of the chatterbait is another crucial factor. Some colors work better based on the season or your surroundings. The following colors perform well across the country:

  • Blue/black: Blue and black chatterbaits are the most common chatterbait colors used for bass fishing. Look for a black and blue skirt with a darker trailer for low light, low water clarity, and high springtime weed situations.
  • Bluegill: Largemouth bass feed on Bluegills during the spawning season, so a chatterbait painted with their pattern is a powerful tool. Use this chatterbait in areas where you know there are Bluegill beds.
  • Red crawfish: Like red lipless crankbaits, red chatterbaits are strong tools for catching bass in cool waters and early spring. The red color is great for slow rolling in the grass or ripping the chatterbait.
  • Pearl/Sexy shad: Pearl swimbait with a sexy shad chatterbait flickers on the surface, attracting bass in the spawn and early summer seasons.
  • Green pumpkin: The absolute best chatterbait color for all scenarios and seasons, the green pumpkin looks natural in all water types. Match it with a lighter color or a dark green trailer for the best results.

When choosing the right color, go with a shade similar to the bait you’re trying to imitate. Green pumpkin and white (pearl) are ideal shades for most areas of the country because they mimic sunfish and shads. Vibrant color is ideal for murky water, while a natural color works great in clear water.

Always attempt to choose the color based on your surroundings.

9. Cold and Clear Water is Ideal

Chatterbaits aren’t only great for dirty water. They’re a go-to when the water is cold. Throw a chatterbait into the mix when temperatures are before 60 degrees F. Bass can be too sluggish for spinners during colder temperatures, so the chatterbait may help you catch more.

10. Slow Down

You can rip chatterbaits and reel them in quickly, but you may notice better results if you slow down. Jigs work best when you cast them and reel them back in slowly. You don’t want to burn the lure through the water. Try rolling them across the bottom, rock piles, or weed beds.