JEFF KNAPP: Chatter-style baits create buzz in and out of water
Living up to its name in more ways than one, chatter-style baits have created quite a fishing industry buzz in and out of the water.
Following the initial success in bass tournament circuits, chatter-style baits have infiltrated other fishing venues, the muskie/pike world included.
So what creates all the chatter? It’s a hexagon-shaped blade that causes the trailing lure to swim erratically side to side. The blade doesn’t rotate. Instead, it acts like a free-floating crankbait lip of sorts, adding random flash and kick, as well as a healthy dose of vibration.
Original chatterbaits feature a skirted swimming jig-style trailer. Since its introduction about six years ago, versions of the original have been developed that employ varying body styles and a selection of sizes. Included are super-sized chatter-style swimming jigs appropriate for toothy critters.
[PHOTO: Chatter-style baits can take muskies such as this one. (Jeff Knapp photo)]
Much of the success of chatter-style muskie lures can be traced to the relative ease in which they are worked. They aren’t physically demanding; and while there is room for a touch of creativity in the retrieve, the lure’s inherent action ensures success via a straight swimming retrieve.
“The trend right now in the muskie world is big blades, big vibration. People are leaning toward baits like the double-bladed Cowgirl,” explained Muskie Innovations’ owner Brad Ruh, who markets the muskie chatterbait in conjunction with Rad Lures. “The chatterbait is easy to cast, easy to retrieve. It has lots of vibration. And that’s the key to the chatterbait, the vibration. It has a unique vibration because the blade doesn’t spin, rather it kicks back and forth.”
Muskie chatterbaits come in several colors, utilizing painted and metallic hammered blades. The bodies feature a skirt and a soft-bodied twister tail. Fueled by the arbitrary bite of the blade, the skirt breathes and the tail dances.
“The vibration of the lure makes it fish bigger than it really is,” continued Ruh. “Muskies have a long lateral line, and they rely on that (lateral line) to feed. I’ve found the muskie chatterbait to be most effective in dingy water, as well as during low-light conditions on clear-water lakes.”
Muskie chatterbaits are relatively shallow-running lures. Ruh targets structure/cover options in the 1- to 3-foot range with the baits.
“It does surprisingly well in weeds,” he reports. “The blade out front kind of whacks the weeds to the side. And the muskie version of the bait has two large single hooks, not treble hooks, so it comes through weeds without gathering much up. I fish a lot of weed/rock combinations, and it does very well on them.”
The basic retrieve with the muskie chatterbait is a straight swimming one, making it well-suited for inexperienced anglers. But it also functions with a touch of deviation.
“Cast-and-crank is the No. 1 retrieve,” noted Ruh. “I’ve also experimented with rips and pauses. Because the blade doesn’t rotate it acts more like a blade bait (of the sonar vein). So you can actually pump it as such. It’s also an option on a follow, when you’re trying to get a reaction out of a fish.”
Given Ruh’s Wisconsin location, most of his chatterbait application preference has been via casting. But he has experimented with it trolling, with success.
“I have trolled it, and it trolls great. It doesn’t blow out. You can run it up to five to six miles an hour without a problem.”