Vibrating jigs for bass fishing are awesome fish catchers but there are hundreds of these baits from which to choose now when you take into account all the colors, sizes, shapes and brands. Even Z-Man alone (the maker of the Original ChatterBait) now has dozens of bait combinations to choose from. There are ChatterBaits better suited for open water, ChatterBaits meant to be used in cover and ChatterBaits with skirts and ChatterBaits without. Big ones, small ones and the list goes on and on.
It almost sounds like Bubba Gump’s shrimp varieties.
It can honestly be a little overwhelming at times and that’s just within one brand. I’ve fished with quite a few of these by now and there are a few that stand out to me. So today, we’re going to look at three ChatterBaits every angler should give a try and talk a little about what makes each one unique to certain situations.
The ChatterBait Custom is the gold standard in all-around performance in my opinion. When placed alongside the Original ChatterBait, there are a couple things Z-Man really improved upon to make this a fantastic little fishing machine.
Most notable is the line tie. The Achilles’ heel of the Original ChatterBait is the line tie clip. Capable of holding up to most fish, it always made me a little leery when I’d have to wrestle a big one out of thick cover.
The fault was partly mine for fishing my ChatterBaits on braid but I’d often worry about straitening the clip on those older ChatterBaits. The new line tie Z-Man incorporated into the ChatterBait Custom though is second to none in strength. They really outdid themselves, improving on one of the best baits of all time in a major way. Adding to the new clip, Z-man also beefed up the hook, added a heavier duty skirt band and moved away from painted blades that chip to more durable metallic finishes.
ChatterBait Mini Max
The ChatterBait Mini Max is one of my newest favorites from Z-Man. This is, once again, an improvement on the long-existing classic of the ChatterBait Mini. The Mini is a great bait that gets lots of bites and is an awesome bait for an angler fishing small waters for smaller fish on average, coming in at only $4.49. But for a few bucks more, the Mini Max offers the same bite-sized bait profile with beefed up components geared more towards big bites and tournament fishing.
Though it has a more traditional clip compared to the ChatterBait Custom, the Mini Max’s clip is still more stout than the old ones and more importantly Z-Man improved upon the larger downfall of the Mini—the hook. The Mini Max has a far superior hook as well as a molded-on bait keeper and a much better color selection, with matching skirts and paint jobs.
This bait has a blade about half the size of traditional ChatterBaits, which really puts it in a class all its own when it comes to a finesse bladed jig. I really like this one for those days when bass won’t quite get on a regular ChatterBait but I want a little more thump than a squarebill has to offer. The Mini Max falls perfectly between those two to offer a bait signature and a bait profile bass haven’t seen yet.
Project Z ChatterBait
The Project Z ChatterBait serves a very particular purpose in my arsenal. Though this lure comes in the more traditional 3/8- and 1/2-ounce sizes as well, this was the first offering ever of a vibrating jig in the 3/4- and 1-ounce range.
This opened up a whole new world to anglers; now we could efficiently and effectively fish ChatterBaits deep. This is a great way to offer a different presentation to heavily pressured ledge fish in the summer. But for me, the appeal was for night fishing.
We fish big black Colorado spinnerbaits a lot in the summer months here in Alabama, which is a great way to catch bass at night as the water hits its peak temperatures. But this is a painstakingly slow process once you get over 10 feet, even with a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait. The large Colorado blade offers so much resistance, it’s hard to get the bait down deep.
On the other hand, these big ChatterBaits fold up and are able to fall quickly through the water column. This cuts the time you have to count a bait down into a fraction of what you’d see with a spinnerbait. Then you just slow-roll the bait back to the boat and even still you don’t have to fish it quite as slow.
What’s also nice is that you can fish deep targets more effectively. Where I used to have to throw well past a target and pendulum a spinnerbait down to try to intersect it on the retrieve, I can cast the Project Z ChatterBait directly over top of a target in 20 feet of water, count it down and start the retrieve in the strike zone.
This often triggers an immediate bite as the bait instantly starts to generate its vibration right in front of the fish. If you try to let a spinnerbait fall vertically like this, the blade tangles in the line.
The ChatterBait is one of my absolute favorite baits to fish and these three models are the best of the best in my opinion. The ChatterBait Custom is a fantastic all-around vibrating jig capable of hauling the biggest bass out of the heaviest cover in style. The Mini Max is a fantastic bait whether fishing in muddy water or clear when fish are a little more pressured or slow to bite a bigger blade. The oversized Project Z ChatterBait makes a fantastic addition to the offshore game, especially at night.
Add these three baits to your lineup and you won’t be disappointed.