Chatterbaits vs. Spinnerbaits in Winter
Written By: Wes Ward, February 9, 2013 Species: Bass,
As the days start getting longer and the temperatures begin to rise the bass will emerege from their winter slumber in search of a hearty meal. Many experienced fishermen will be throwing spinnerbaits as their go to search bait. For decades, spinnerbaits have caught big fish in big numbers, and are pretty easy to fish effectively in numerous conditions. However, there are some shortcomings with spinnerbaits that have led me to replace my arsenal of spinners with the flat blades of the chatterbait.
A chatterbait, unlike its spinnerbait counterpart, has a much more erratic action in the water. By slightly varying the retrieve, a chatterbait can move left and right in the water as much as 2-3′, better imitating an injured baitfish. Jerking the bait through weeds and cover makes the bait rise and dive in the water column much more naturally as well. Chatterbaits also stand up on the bottom like a jig rather than simply lying flat like a spinnerbait does. By standing upright on the bottom, the skirt and trailer on the bait is allowed to breathe and pulse in the slightest of currents.
Chatterbaits also offer a much wider range of options for trailers. I often rig chatterbaits with a standard skirted jig trailer, such as a Yamamoto Hula Grub or Beaver style trailer to resemble a crawfish. You can also rig them with hollow bodied swimbaits or flukes to resemble baitfish. Sometimes, a large 8-10″ stick worm works well too on large flooded flats or around submerged brush. The largest bass I boated last year came on a Chatterbait rigged with a Gulp! Alive Split tail at Clear Lake in mid-February.
When targeting bass during the spawn, I use a chatterbait instead of a jig or flipping setup. Bass are aware of the bait’s presence in the water long before it nears the nest, and can’t resist fighting it off when it lands on the bottom near or on the nest, a tactic not available with spinnerbaits. Staging bass, aggressive to find a mating partner, also seem to respond more to the presence of an erratic bait over the constant movement of the spinnerbait.
Next time you are on the water, and the spinnerbait is either not working or just landing you average sized bass, try tying on a Chatterbait. They offer all of the noise and flash of spinnerbaits with the advantages of better action and more rigging options allowing angler’s to really customize and dial in their offerings.