Fishing bass with a Chatterbait

Utilizing Vibrating Jigs

Vibrating jigs are some of the most effective baits to use for bass fishing. And they are among the easiest to use as well. This makes baits like the Z-Man ChatterBait a mainstay in every angler's tackle box. And while you can simply tie a ChatterBait on, toss it out and get bit, you can really level up your presentation by adding a soft plastic lure as a trailer behind your bait.

All sorts of soft plastics can be used as trailers for ChatterBaits, flukes, grubs, craws, swimbaits and really almost any other soft plastic in the 3- to 4- inch range could be put on the back of a ChatterBait to dress it up and make it a little more appealing to a bass. With so many options to choose from, we thought it would be beneficial to shed some light on the subject.

Fishing bass with a vibrating jig

Let’s simplify things

Sometimes too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. Such is the case here given the reality that so many soft plastics can work as ChatterBait trailers. Split tail trailers like the Zoom Split Tail add a little bit of a finessy twitch to the back end of the bait as it’s reeled through the water. Where single tail grubs have a slower, more subtle ripple to them. And even Beaver style baits can be rigged vertically to create a slender profile with two pulsating tails on the back.

But to keep things simple, the majority of the time, one of two trailers will do all you need. Taking just two trailer styles, a swimbait and a craw, you can effectively change how your ChatterBait performs under the water and dress up the profile of the bait at the same time. In this way, your trailer is not just a fashion statement, it’s functional as well.

Swimbait Versus Craw

Swimbait vs craw

Both the craw and the swimbait are better in certain situations, because they will actually help your ChatterBait do different things. Choosing to trail your ChatterBait with a swimbait, like the Z-Man DieZel Minnowz, does a few things. First, it helps the overall profile of the bait look a little more realistic, instead of having a bare hook flailing around under a thin skirt.

But a craw does that as well, masking the hook and adding a little bulk to the look of the bait. Where these two differ however is in their ability to change how a ChatterBait moves through the water.

Let’s start by using the water resistance that’s created by these trailer styles to distinguish between the two. With a slender, single tail swimbait as a trailer there’s little resistance. Where using a twin tail craw style trailer, there’s more resistance. So a 1/2- ounce ChatterBait rigged with a swimbait trailer can move through the water faster than the same same ChatterBait would if you rigged it with a craw style trailer.

This means that you can either fish a bait with a swimbait trailer faster or let it get deeper on the same retrieve as compared to a bait with a craw trailer. In addition to adding more resistance, the claws of a craw style trailer basically act as to two little wings, creating lift for the bait. This further exaggerates the slowing down effect that a craw style trailer has on a ChatterBait, versus a swimbait.

Real World Chatterbaits for Bass

Real world examples

Perhaps all of that got a little too heady, and you’re wanting to know the real world application. Well here’s a good example. Say you’re fishing a shallow flat with submerged hydrilla blanketing the bottom. The top of the grass is merely two feet below the surface, the water temps are in the lower 50s and you want to fish a ChatterBait as slow as you can, while also ensuring it doesn’t bog down in the grass. Which trailer do you choose?

If you said craw, you’d be right! The craw style trailer will help slow the bait down and also create lift so that you can fish your bait effectively over top the submerged vegetation. Now say you move to the outer edge of this same submerged grass, and now the grass is topping out 6- feet below the surface. It makes sense here to swap to a swimbait style trailer so that your bait can get down deeper and tick the tops of the vegetation.

Final thoughts regarding Chatterbaits

In conclusion

It seems like there’s a lot to think about when selecting the right trailer for a ChatterBait. But once you grasp a couple key principles, I believe this will all make sense and become second nature fairly quickly. For starters, keep it simple when selecting a trailer. Unless you already have a favorite, look to either a swimbait or a craw to start.

If you want to fish your bait a little faster or a little deeper, go with the slimmer profile swimbait. If you want to fish your bait slower and for it to ride higher, then try a double tailed craw style trailer. Basing your color selection on whatever forage you’re fishing around and then using this simple selection method for the style, you can pick out the perfect trailer for almost any situation.

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