I have long been a fan of the original ChatterBait by Z-Man and it seems like every year now they’re kicking out a new version of it—heavier ones, lighter ones, ones with weed guards, ones with swinging heads, ones with no skirt and the list goes on. Well now, Z-Man has released a handful of new creations once again and the ChatterBait MiniMax has grabbed my eye.
I’ve been putting it to the test, so it’s time to talk about it.
A high-quality downsized version
Everything about the ChatterBait MiniMax screams high quality in a smaller package. Z-Man released a Mini ChatterBait years ago when they reduced the size of the bait but the components left hardcore tournament anglers and big bass hunters a little wanting. The Mini ChatterBait still gets bit and makes for a great pond or creek fishing bait, but the components available now far surpass what companies had to work with years ago. So Z-Man went back to the drawing board to create a premium ChatterBait in a smaller package and dubbed it the MiniMax.
We’ll get more into the specifics of what makes up a premium ChatterBait in a smaller package momentarily. But you should know right out of the gate, this was a smart move on Z-Man’s part. Tournament and overall fishing pressure has greatly increased over the last few years and we’re seeing a trend happening in fishing where smaller baits are getting more and bigger bites. Ned rigs, 3-inch paddle tail swimbaits, mini jigs and spybaits are big-time producers out on the water these days. I think we’ll be able to add the MiniMax to that list soon.
A smaller blade
At first glance, I really didn’t think the blade on the MiniMax was all that much smaller than a regular ChatterBait. But once I put them sided by side, I could clearly see the difference. What I find very interesting about the MiniMax is that it has given me something I never knew I wanted so badly and that is largely due to the smaller blade.
I love throwing a ChatterBait but once the water temps get particularly cold in the winter, I rarely pick one up. It’s then that I like a bait with a slower, duller vibration like a big willow leaf or double Colorado spinnerbait.
But I’ll also use a squarebill a lot in the coldest parts of winter, which still has a pretty sharp vibration but it’s not as aggressive as a ChatterBait. Well, of all the baits out there I would say that the new MiniMax is a close cousin to a squarebill, both in size and sound signature. There’s still a definite ChatterBait vibration to it, but it’s inching closer to a squarebill at the same time. So much so, that while testing it I had my dad throw a squarebill on his rod while I was throwing the MiniMax on an identical rod and you could watch the rod tip bounce along at about the same rhythm. So the MiniMax has opened a lot of the winter back up to the ChatterBait, in my personal fishing at least.
A smaller, but stout hook
Z-Man incorporated a premium heavy-duty 2/0 black nickel hook into the MiniMax and it is bad to the bone. I personally like to throw a vibrating jig on braided line a lot, especially in muddy water and thick vegetation. I know that’s against the norm but I’ve rarely been accused of being normal anyway. My point with bringing that up, is that braided line can bend a hook on some vibrating jigs. I think it would take a chain, a trailer hitch and a four-wheel drive to bend the hook on this little nugget. I was really pumped to see a heavy-duty hook on a bait this small, that being the ultimate sign that, though this bait will catch a 12-incher from the creek bank, that’s far from all it’s capable of. This one has the hauling power to penetrate and pull in a big one.
You’ll also notice Z-Man went with a molded double-barb bait keeper. Z-Man has their own line of soft plastics as well, made with a material they call ElaZtech. The MinnowZ I have rigged as a trailer on the MiniMax in these photos is one such bait. This ElaZtech material has a whole lot of stretch to it, making it extremely durable but a little tricky to secure to a bait to start with sometimes. The double-barb keeper does a great job allowing the ElaZtech to slide up and onto the bait and then locks it into place. But rest assured, this bait will work with all other soft-plastic trailers as well.
The MiniMax also skips really well. Most ChatterBaits skip well anyway, being one of the main reasons I’ll pick one up at times because I’m able to put into places where I can’t throw a squarebill or spinnerbait. But the MiniMax being so compact goes above and beyond in the skipability area. This is yet another reason I’m glad to have this bait to throw in the winter months now when a full size ChatterBait can be a little too aggressive. But make no mistake, this bait will catch them year round as well, especially on heavily pressured fisheries.
Z-Man did a great job with this one, pulling features from some of their other premium ChatterBaits down in size to create a compact, but high-end ChatterBait capable of withstanding heavy use. Z-Man even incorporated a wire tie to hold the skirt in place, another subtle but premium feature. Pairing those small details with a smaller blade and smaller but seriously strong hook, Z-Man has created a sweet little nugget in their MiniMax Compact Bladed Jig.
At a price point of $8.99, this is not the most expensive vibrating jig but it is one I’d put up against any other quality-wise. Available in 1/4-, 3/8- and 1/2-ounce and coming in eight color choices, there’s likely a MiniMax to suit any need you might have. With the undeniable drawing power of a ChatterBait packaged in the size of a squarebill, I believe Z-Man has a real winner on their hands here.
The Z-Man ChatterBait MiniMax is available at the following online retailers: