I did not know much about chatterbaits. When they first came on the market in 2004, I bought three or four in various colors. I have been a spinnerbait fan for years so I figured this might just be the next evolution. I tried them a few times without any success and, being that lures are basically divided into two categories, “Catch Fish” and Catch Fishermen’s Wallets”, my chatterbaits were quickly relegated to the later pile. However, as I began networking with more and more serious anglers, I decided that considering the bait had endured a demanding market for over 10 years, maybe I had overlooked something.
Brett Hite won an FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee in 2014 catching 9 of 20 bass over four days on a chatterbait. Further, also in 2014, the top three finishers in the Bassmaster Classic – Randy Howell, Paul Mueller and Edwin Evers – each credited chatterbaits with key catches during the three-day event on Lake Guntersville. Kind of makes it hard to argue that they don’t catch fish.
I find it interesting that from 2006-2008 four million chatterbaits found their way into America’s tackle boxes. But even during this time, I was not the only angler wondering if the chatterbait was just the most recent gimmick- something to speak of only when comparing to the Flying Lure or Banjo Minnow. People really did not understand how and when to use it, and as a result, it took a long time for anglers to develop confidence in the lure. When chatterbaits first hit the market, they were described as a hybrid of a spinnerbait, crankbait and a jig. But if you already had confidence in a particular spinnerbait or crankbait, how long are you going to stick with the hybrid? Well in the end, it was the guys who took that extra time that found the key to the bait’s success. To make it “all about the bass”, fishing it had to be all about the vibration. Turns out, for this particular blade shape, it’s the rapid oscillation of the blade that makes the chatterbait different from its standalone kin. Unlike a spinnerbait, jig or crankbait, a chatterbait has a sound component that results in it making a whole lot of noise in the water. The research that went into the lure’s design centered on how fast the blade vibrated relative to the speed at which the lure was being retrieved. In other words, the chatterbait gives you a lot more pulses per turn of the reel.
When you consider this as the baits advantage, it becomes logical that it works best in dirty water that has a lot of vegetation. It also follows logic that a single 5/0 hook gives the bait a profile that allows it to be pulled through vegetation with the wobble profile of a crankbait without the weed catching treble hooks. Furthermore, when a subtle presentation is required, like from slow rolling a spinnerbait, a chatterbait will give you more vibration attraction per turn of a reel than its bladed cousin and an ability to stay closer to the grass without getting the grass caught on the wire.
iBass360 pro-staff Trevor Topken and Robbie Phillips have had success fishing chatterbaits. Both make it clear that given the conditions under which the bait works best, it is much more a largemouth than a smallmouth bait. Summer is a key time to use the chatterbait but they also have been successful during the pre-spawn. Both have validated success on lakes and ponds where bass orient to vegetation and where water clarity is less than ideal. Lakes with lily pads are ideal. The baits also fish well in the brush of laydowns. Just as with any lure presentation, when it comes to color, match the hatch, and do not underestimate the importance of matching the bait to the right trailer. For example, Robbie and Trevor both go with the 4 inch Keitech swing impact as the fat tail gets great action from the blade’s pulse.
So is the chatterbait THE BAIT for the summer of ’15? No. But what it IS is a very good choice when you are faced with iced tea and salad- stained water and a good bit of vegetation. Give it a try and LIVE THE PASSION!
For further information on Chatterbaits, check out Scott Martin's video on picking a chatterbait trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=27&v=OHeAlr2jT6M