A chatterbait and spinnerbait are often thought of as interchangeable. At first glance, that’s understandable and certainly true to an extent. While both do mimic baitfish and attract bass primarily with vibration and flash, there are still some situations where one works better than the other. So, let’s dive into the chatterbait vs spinnerbait conversation…
Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Water Temperature and Clarity
For starters, I’ll often throw a chatterbait when the water is colder and/or muddy. Now I will throw a spinnerbait in colder water also, one with a lot of thump like a number 6 willow leaf blade or a double Colorado blade setup.
But after the pre-spawn period, I’ll typically transition away from a chatterbait and the more aggressive spinnerbait combos and go to either a small colorado/willow leaf combo or a double willow leaf spinnerbait.
The reason for this being the speed of retrieve and vibration. Those more aggressive spinnerbaits and chatterbaits give off a lot more vibration and can be reeled much slower. This gives bass in cold or muddy water more time to track down the bait.
Around the spawn and post-spawn, I prefer a spinnerbait over a chatterbait because I’ve found a chatterbait to be a little too aggressive for fish that are weary from the spawn. I like the flash of a willow leaf spinnerbait here more than the aggressive thump of a chatterbait.
In the summer and fall, I have also found a spinnerbait to work better down here in the south. The only time I will lean towards a chatterbait during this time of the year is in a particularly muddy situation or at times around a lot of hydrilla.
Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Shad Spawn
For some reason I have also had better luck with a spinnerbait in the few shad spawns I’ve fished over the years. It makes sense that a willow leaf spinnerbait likely looks more like shad to bass actively gorging themselves on hundreds of them, so perhaps it’s just a ‘match the hatch’ situation.
The aggressive vibration of the chatterbait isn’t necessary as the water has warmed by that time and all the shad spawns I’ve ever found have been in clear water.
Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Bream, Bluegill, Golden Shiners
When fishing around a lot of bream, bluegill, or golden shiners I have had better luck with a chatterbait. Again, not exactly sure why that is, but I think all too often in fishing we can get so caught up in justifying why one thing works better than the other that we miss the point.
It works better. So just go with what works.
Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Around Vegetation
I definitely prefer a chatterbait when fishing around thick submerged vegetation like hydrilla, coontail, or milfoil. The bait seems to rip free a lot cleaner and that initial burst when you rip the bait out draws a lot of strikes. However, in some stalking vegetations like water willow, I prefer to reel a spinnerbait through it.
Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Skipping Docks or Bushes
When skipping docks or bushes, I definitely prefer a chatterbait. The reason a chatterbait works better in this scenario is pretty simple. A chatterbait is less rigid than a spinnerbait and folds up nicely when you try to skip it.
Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait: Burning a Spinnerbait
Well, the name alone gave this one away, but yeah, I’ve never tried to ‘burn a chatterbait’ and I don’t think that would have the same desired outcome. Burning or waking a spinnerbait is a great way to catch smallmouth and spotted bass when they are actively chasing bait.
So those are some of the differences I’ve seen over the years. I’m sure there are others out there with differing opinions, but those are my life experiences and hopefully, they’ll help some of you who are trying to figure out which to throw when.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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