Chatterbait 101: How To Fish A Vibrating Jig

Chatterbait fishing
Z-Man Fishing

Vibrating jigs, which are also commonly known by the Z-Man brand name as Chatterbaits, have become a staple in many the arsenal of just about ever bass angler on the planet.

As versatile as they come, they can trigger aggressive strikes from various predatory fish species whether it’s bass, pike, or even redfish. Plus, they can get bit in just about every kind of water body, any week of the year.

Before you tie one on, it’s important to choose the right bladed jig for the job. Size, color, trailer, rod and reel combo… it all depends on the water conditions you’re facing, the forage the bass are feeding on, and the composition of your waterbody.

The Z-Man Jackhammer is the pinnacle of Chatterbait fishing, but at over $15 a piece, it’s not in everybody’s budget. The new Elite Evo is significantly cheaper and almost just as good, featuring a number of premium components. When you wanna downsize a bit, the Mini Max is a great option too for big smallmouth bass.

Z-Man Evergreen Chatterbait Jack Hammer

Colors: Green Pumpkin Shad, Green Pumpkin, Bhite Delight

Z-Man Chatterbait Elite EVO

Colors: Bluegill, Spot Remover, Glitter Bomb

Z-Man Chatterbait Mini Max

Colors: Bluegill, Spot Remover, Chartreuse & White

Color & Weight

Adapt your bladed jig’s color to the prevailing water conditions. Natural hues like shad or green pumpkin in clear water, and the classic black and blue for dirtier water. When it comes to weight, it depends on the depth you’re looking to fish. I’d recommend starting with 3/8ths and 1/2 ounce which will more than likely cover 95% of your fishing situations. If you want to get deep and drag it along the bottom, you can size up to 3/4ths.

Best Chatterbait Rods

You’re going to want to equip yourself with a medium-heavy baitcasting rod that has more of a parabolic bend, or a more moderate action (some brands call it regular). If you’re looking for a more versatile rod, you can probably get away with a medium-heavy fast all-purpose rod capable of throwing worms, jigs, spinnerbaits and more, but for best results, opt for a moderate or moderate fast action. Some pros are even using a glass rod designed for crankbaits. As for line, 15-20 lb fluorocarbon should do the trick.

Here’s a few great rod options at different price points:

Budget: St. Croix Mojo Bass Casting – 7’1″ MH Moderate – $112.48

Mid-Price: Daiwa Tatula Elite Glass Cranking – 7’4″ MH Regular – $189.99

High Quality: Shimano Expride Casting – 7’2″ MH Glass – $279.99

The Perfect Trailer

Enhance the effectiveness of your vibrating jig by adding a soft plastic trailer. This not only increases the lure’s profile but also provides additional action to entice wary fish. I find more success with straight tail trailers (I think they allow the jig’s own erratic action to shine) however paddle tails and craw profiles can work too.

Hog Farmer Spunk Shad 4.5″, 5.5″

Colors: Electric Shad, Sexy Shad, TW Sunfish Magic

Rapala Crush City Freeloader

Colors: Gizzard Shad, Sungill, Green Shad

Yamamoto Zako 4″

Colors: Zako, Green Pumpkin White Lam, Electric Shad


The standard approach involves a steady retrieve, allowing the vibrating jig to produce its distinctive erratic and vibrating action. Adjust your retrieval speed based on the mood of the fish.

You can also employ a stop and go retrieve, periodically pausing your retrieve to let the vibrating jig sink before winding again. This mimics the falling movement of injured baitfish and can trigger strikes.

In colder water, a slower retrieve may be more effective, while warmer water might call for a faster, more aggressive presentation.

Targeting Structure & Cover

Focus your efforts around structures such as rocks, docks, and in particular, submerged vegetation. Cast near cover and allow the vibrating jig to bump into obstacles, imitating a fleeing baitfish.

Ripping it through the top of submerged grass is also a great way to entice a bite.

*This post contains links through the Tackle Warehouse Affiliate Program. While all products are independently selected by our expert Riff Outdoors team, if you use these links to make a purchase, we may earn a commission.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock