Don't Sleep on the WillowVibe

Don't Sleep on the WillowVibe

The Z-Man ChatterBait WillowVibe is a finesse alternative to a regular vibrating jig, and it’s a nasty little bait. This lure has been out for a couple of years now, and it appears to have flown under the radar of most bass anglers. But you definitely shouldn’t sleep on the WillowVibe. 

By hinging a willow-leaf blade on the front of a pill-shaped jig head, Z-Man created a vibrating-jig offshoot which mixes the tantalizing vibration of a ChatterBait with the less bulky presentation of a skirtless soft-plastic lure. Let’s talk more about why this bait works so well, and look into how to use it. 

How to rig it - 

You can pair your favorite small soft-plastic jerkbait or swimbait with the WillowVibe. Baits in the 3-inch range seem to work best. Simply run the hook point through the center of the nose and work the body of the bait up onto the hook, finally popping the hook point through the back so that the bait can lay straight on the hook.  

Soft-plastic jerkbaits are ideal for the more finessy situations, as these thin-and-tall bodied baits rock top to bottom more. These baits can also be fished a little deeper, as they create less resistance. Small swimbaits with boot or paddle tails have more resistance, with the tail kicking back and forth as the bait is reeled in. And the body has more of a soft-rolling action as compared to the flash of the soft-plastic jerkbait.  

How to rig it

Finesse situations - 

When the water cools, traditional vibrating jigs like a 1/2-ounce ChatterBait can be a little much for the lethargic bass. Sure, fish can still be caught on a skirted ChatterBait, but transitioning to the WillowVibe will often get you more bites in water below 55 degrees. 

This bait works better in open water and sparse cover situations, since it has no weedguard. But it is still surprisingly weedless, as long as the bait is kept upright when it makes contact with cover. Throwing this lure across open flats, around docks or through sparse submerged vegetation gives the angler a finesse alternative to use where other anglers are likely bombing more aggressive spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits and lipless cranks. 

Finesse Situations

Gear - 

The WillowVibe can be used on spinning gear as well as baitcasting gear, even closed reels like Zebcos. Spinning reels will likely be the best option for most anglers since this bait works best when reeled slowly and fished on lighter line, in the 10- to 15- pound range. If you’re fishing this bait on a baitcaster around sparse cover, 15-pound fluorocarbon is typically sufficient. 

You could use this bait on braid with a baitcaster if you’re fishing through vegetation, but you’d have to use a light action rod and keep in mind the size of the hook and presence of the clip. Setting the hook hard with braid or fighting a big fish without a soft-action rod would run the risk of straightening the hook or opening up the clip. 

A spinning rod with a braided mainline and a fluorocarbon leader would allow for long cast and a good action from the bait. And, since spinning reels typically have a slower gear ratio on average compared to baitcasters, it would be easier to fish the WillowVibe slow on spinning gear.


In conclusion - 

The WillowVibe from Z-Man comes in two size options (1/4 or 3/8 ounce) as well as four color/blade combinations. The 3-inch Z-Man MinnowZ is a great place to start when looking for a soft-plastic bait to pair with the WillowVibe. 

Throwing this bait out and simply reeling it in offers the bass a finesse vibrating jig option that is hard to resist anytime bass are relating to small baitfish in relatively shallow water. Remember that lighter line and a slower gear ratio will help you keep the bait down and give it the best action. This is a great tie-it-on-and-cast-it-out bait that will catch fish in the hands of any angler of any skillset. 


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