Every angler needs to learn how to fish a vibrating jig. The vibrating jig, commonly known as a “chatterbait”, is a big bass catching lure every angler should have in their tackle arsenal. No matter what time of year, a vibrating jig will catch bass. Being a firm believer in the vibrating jig, I have a “Crazy Jig”, by NuTech Lures, tied on every time I go bass fishing.
For fear of the unknown, many anglers are not confident fishing with a vibrating jig. These anglers will choose a spinnerbait or rattle trap versus a vibrating jig. Even when conditions dictate a lure with strong vibration, many anglers will simply change to a spinnerbait with blades expected to create more vibration. While effective, it’s not always the most efficient choice. The vibration is only part of what makes the vibrating jig effective. The vibrating jig also has a feverish pulsation; this pulsation creates a visual effect to help bass commit to striking. With fewer anglers using vibrating jigs, the door is wide open to present new baits to the bass that are becoming conditioned to the traditional seasonal baits.
Before we discuss how to fish a vibrating jig, I want to elaborate on color. The vibrating jig can mimic any forage in a lake. Choosing traditional white, chartreuse, or a combination of the two can be a huge mistake. Bream, bluegill, and crawfish colors are all very effective at various times of the year. A lake’s active forage should be considered when selecting a color combination. Some lakes have large bream populations all year, while others have crawfish or shad populations. I fish the famous Red River quite often; my most productive vibrating jig color on the river is a black, blue, and watermelon skirt with a blue sapphire trailer. The effectiveness of this color could be due to the bluegill forage base or simply because the river is very muddy and this color stands out well. The only true key to color is experimentation. There are times when a basic white skirt is going to be the best choice, however, don’t let it become a standard.
Once a color is picked, next is lure size. Adjusting the weight of the vibrating jig helps control retrieve depth. Because of the design, the vibrating jig will rise during a retrieve; use lure weights and retrieve speeds to maintain a desired depth. I have developed a standard, a starting point, over the years. When fishing shallower than four feet, I use a 3/8-ounce. Between five and eight feet, I opt for a ½-ounce model. If fishing deeper than eight feet, especially during summer or winter months, I use a 3/4-ounce. I have on occasion used one-ounce models when bass are deeper than fifteen feet. These are just starting points. Use the lure weight, along with retrieve speed to generate strikes. With aggressive bass in shallow water, use a heavier bait to achieve a faster retrieve and maintain a specific depth. The biggest mistake I see anglers making is not using a heavy enough vibrating jig. When choosing a proper weight, keep in mind a retrieve speed can also be too slow; the bait needs enough forward movement to enable the blade to swing side-to-side thus creating the vibration. Having trouble maintaining lure vibration at a desired depth is an indicator to increase the weight of the bait.
How to fish a Vibrating Jig By Season
The vibrating jig is an all season, all terrain bait. It is effective on clear water ledges or in the muddiest river systems. Just like any bait, there are seasonal presentations to make the vibrating jig more effective. Let’s run through a variety of presentations for the seasons.
In water below 50 degrees, I’ve found a slow, steady retrieve to be the most productive way to fish a vibrating jig. Long casts along structure breaks, over flats, or crawling through brush piles and wood cover are all effective. Retrieving through the last live vegetation of the year is deadly during warming trends. The key is a slow retrieve and contact with the bottom or cover. During winter months I recommend at least 1/2-ounce baits, and will go up to 3/4-ounce baits if fishing over eight feet deep.
With a long cast, either bump the bottom or deflect the bait off of cover. During winter months, a bass will hone in on the vibration of the bait and follow it. Once the vibrating jig deflects off a piece of cover or stalls in vegetation, bass will strike out of reflex. Many times repeated casts to a single piece of cover will produce multiple bass relating to the same stump, brush top, or patch of green vegetation.
In the spring, there are many different forage species on the shallow flats of lakes. They are looking to warm up or start their spring mating rituals. The hard thumping action of the vibrating jig mimics a crawfish scurrying across the bottom or bream cruising these flats. Both are primary forage for bass throughout the spring months. Keep these two forage species in mind when selecting colors.
This time of year I have two presentations I like. First, and usually most effective, is to drag the vibrating jig along the bottom just fast enough to feel the vibration. During this retrieve, I’ll occasionally pop my rod tip to mimic a threatened crawfish trying to scurry away. Second, I’m trying to mimic bream or bluegill using a steady, medium speed retrieve. However, I will cast at angles to ensure I can bounce the vibrating jig into cover and let it fall when I do.
The vibrating jig is a fantastic spring bait; it allows anglers to cover a lot of water while looking for spawning grounds. However, change is the key to strikes. Change by deflection, rod input or falling. As the water warms, a faster retrieve will be effective; however, direction change is still a key factor in generating the most strikes.
During summer months, the vibration of the vibrating jig will pull bass from deep within vegetation, or a heavier version will pluck bass relating to ledges. Early and late in the day, cast a vibrating jig parallel to the edge of vegetation. Letting a vibrating jig tick the tops of the vegetation during a retrieve can produce ferocious strikes from lurking bass. The key is to find grass edges along structure, such as points or drop-offs; places bass naturally migrate to during the summer.
Bass also school during feeding times and the vibrating jig creates fast, pronounced action bass can quickly find. A bass’s metabolism is very high this time of year, and when schooling, they are very aggressive.
When vegetation or schooling bass are not options, I have found the Yo-Yo method to be very effective when fishing deeper structure. Cast a vibrating jig across points or along ledges and let it settle to the bottom. With a lifting motion swift enough to feel the jig vibrating, pull it off the bottom, and then let it fall back to the bottom on semi slack line. Take up the slack line and repeat. As with any presentation of this nature, pay close attention during the fall, most strikes will happen when the bait is falling back to the bottom.
During autumn a vibrating jig is a must have. I believe the vibrating jig is the best search bait ever designed for this time of year. Nothing can stop it, bass love the action, and anglers can cover a lot of water while hunting up schools of baitfish and bass.
For me, autumn is an ambush-orientated time of year. Bass will relate to the smallest piece of cover along a bank line or a flat and use it to ambush unsuspecting migrating shad. The key to catching bass this time of year is keeping the trolling motor moving and finding as many pieces of cover as possible. While covering water, keep an eye and ear peeled for schooling bass; bass will seemingly at random blow up against a bank line, on a point or along a drop off. There is not a specific way to fish the vibrating jig this time of year, combine all possibilities. Since I am trying to cover a lot of water, I start with a medium to medium/fast retrieve making contact with as much cover as possible.
The Crazy Jig is my “go to” bait during the autumn season. I will have at least two tied on in different weights and colors. While covering water and looking for schools of bass or baitfish, I’ll mix up my presentation to find the best color and size for the day. Color and size can change day to day because of wind, cloud cover, or baitfish position. So it’s always best to be prepared for the change with multiple options readily available. Once I find a color and weight, I keep my trolling motor moving and cover as much water as I can. During the autumn I spend most of my time in the backs of creeks looking for cover.
In general, most vibrating jigs are very weedless and can bounce into all kinds of cover without fear of snagging. Some manufactures have even added weed-guards to their jigs. The NuTech Lures has all the technology their standard jig incorporated into the Crazy Jig. This technology increases hook up ratio and provides a perfectly snag proof bait.
The vibrating jig will soon be a staple in every anglers tackle box. Take advantage of other anglers fear and be the first angler in the area to capitalize on bass that haven’t seen them. Nearly every jig manufacturer has a version of the chatterbait. Manufacturers, to comply with the copyright by ZMan, have become creative with their designs. This creativity has benefited the angler with new strike-provoking features. Features such as blades with bubble creating holes, reflective tape for more flash, and different blade shapes increase the bass catching capabilities of the vibrating jig.
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