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The Best Chatterbait Trailers of 2024

May 21, 2024 - Blog

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The best chatterbait trailers make a dominant lure even better. When this category of lures — now referred to generically as “vibrating jigs” — first burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s, anglers thought it would complement spinnerbaits and swim jigs. While it hasn’t replaced those lures completely, the vibrating jig clearly overshadowed them among hard core bass anglers. There’s something about a chatterbait that generates exceptionally strong reactions from larger-than-average bass across a wide range of conditions.

Choosing the wrong or “less than perfect” trailer doesn’t render the lure completely ineffective, but choosing the right one can make it deadly. It’ll result in more color options, different rates of fall, and generally more bites. Everyone has their favorite or favorites, but by using multiples it’s easy to adapt to a wide range of situations.

Here are some of the best chatterbait trailers I’ve used.

Best All-Around: Yamamoto Zako Swimbait

Best Finesse Trailer: Z-Man Elaztech Split Tail Trailerz

Best Finesse Craw Trailer: Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw

Best Action Craw Trailer: Strike King Rage Craw

Best All-Around Trailer: Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper

Best Grub Style Trailer: Missile Baits Twin Turbo Double Tail Grub

How I Chose the Best Chatterbait Trailers 

At this point in my life, nearly 20 years after I bought my first original Chatterbait, I don’t fish for bass anywhere without a vibrating jig on the deck. Even in northern smallmouth waters, where I tend to be out deep, I have one ready at all times, and they’re deadly in the marsh for redfish, too. From Mexico to Maine, I’ve used them successfully but the most educational days have been when someone else in the boat is fishing one in a different size or color, or with a different trailer. That’s when you start dialing in the subtle differences that affect catch rates. I’ve been amazed at how often a specific trailer, or even the same trailer in a different size, impacts success.

The Best Chatterbait Trailers: Reviews and Recommendations 

Best All-Around: Yamamoto Zako Swimbait

See It

Key Features

3- and 4-inch sizes

Classic baitfish profile

Segmented body provides extra action

Pros

Doesn’t need to be trimmed or altered to work properly

Available in wide range of colors to match or contrast with vibrating jigs

Tail design kicks without overpowering the lure

Cons

Not inexpensive per piece

Brett Hite made bank on the professional bass tours using the vibrating jig throughout the seasons, and then busted the price ceiling when he designed the Z-Man JackHammer, but he still needed an all-around trailer to complete the package. That’s where the Zako comes in. It’s available in both 3- and 4-inch sizes and both provide just enough bulk to attract giants, but not so much that it overpowers the lure itself. It also comes in a paddle tail version if you want something a little more aggressive. The segmented body wiggles seductively and the tail resembles that of a shad or bluegill. It comes in all of the standard colors from white to black/blue to green pumpkin, but some of the oddballs like Electric Shad, Morning Dawn and B Hite Delight provide additional customization to match the hatch or show pressured fish something different.

Best Finesse Trailer: Z-Man Elaztech Split Tail Trailerz

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Key Features

Elaztech construction 

Thin, segmented body

Thin, dual tails

Pros

Virtually indestructible

Inexpensive

Can be used with other lures, like spinnerbaits

Cons

Limited color selection

The Original Chatterbait came packaged with a split tail trailer, but as vibrating jigs commanded more space in the boat anglers started to branch out and choose specialty trailers. Still, there are times when less is more. A split tail adds a bit of action without inhibiting the lure’s movement or adding too much buoyancy or heft. It’s often “just enough.” While various companies make them, the Z-Man version is particularly useful because they’re made of Elaztech, which stretches and resists tearing. That means you can often get through a complete day with a single plastic on the back.

Best Finesse Craw Trailer: Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw

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Key Features

3.5 and 4.25-inch sizes

Segmented body and vibrating claws

Holds a big hook well

Pros

Lots of action but not overbearing

Can be fished on a Texas or Carolina Rig as well

Huge color selection

Cons

Other craws produce more vibration

Whether you’re flipping a mat or dragging a Carolina Rig on a shell bar, the Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw is a proven winner, a compact package that produces lots of bites and some big ones. It really shines on the back of a vibrating jig, too, imitating all sorts of forage and providing just enough bulk to let fish inhale it easily. It doesn’t overpower a lure, but it’s no shrinking violet, either — you’ll know it’s there. The color variations are nearly endless, so if you’re looking at, for instance, watermelon, you can get it with just about any color flake under the sun. Despite being soft they last a surprisingly long time, and even if it gets chewed up you can bite off a segment and keep on chunking and winding.

Best Action Craw Trailer: Strike King Rage Craw

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Key Features

3, 4 and 4.5-inch sizes

Ridged flapping claws

Reversed segmented body

Pros

Claws specifically designed to add resistance

Segments can be cut off to shorten trailer without any loss of action

Extensive color selection

Cons

Not scented

Because the Rage Craw’s claws move with even the slightest bit of current, I always assumed it was a prime lure for flipping, pitching and on the back of slow-crawled jigs. Those all proved to be valuable uses, but they prevented me from seeing just how good it can be on the back of a bladed jig. When I want more action, more bulk and more water movement, this action craw gets the call. It draws fish from a distance and perhaps my favorite attribute is that when you “kill” the lure mid-retrieve, or pull it free from a clump of grass, the claws get right in the face of a trailing bass and seem to provoke strikes better than just about any other trailer I’ve used. It comes in all of the standard watermelons, green pumpkins and black and blue shades, but don’t overlook some of the less common color patterns like Falcon Lake Craw, Blue Craw and Moon Juice.

Best All-Around Trailer: Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper

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Key Features

3.5, 5 and 6-inch sizes

Pros

Paddle tail

Hook slot for better hook up percentage

Many distinctive colors plus the standards

Cons

Tears fairly easily

The Skinny Dipper is a do-it-all piece of plastic. You can rig it weedless and pull it over or through grass, and in Mexico many of the guides use it on a Carolina Rig, where it’s darting action tempts grandes regularly. Nevertheless, where I think it shines most is as a vibrating jig or swim jig trailer, where the boot tail adds action without overpowering the lure, and the slim design snakes through heavy cover with ease. While some anglers downsize to the Little Dipper when they want a smaller presentation, I tend to bite off the head of the regular-sized lure to keep that extra bulk in a shorter package. Like all Reaction Innovations products, some of the color names may be NSFW, but they’re also some of the most creative and natural-looking hues available. I do find that the Dippers tear fairly easily, so if your bladed jig does not have a keeper barb of some sort be sure to add a drop of super glue to hold the trailer in place.

Best Grub Style Trailer: Missile Baits Twin Turbo Double Tail Grub

See It

Key Features

3.25 inches

Slim, craw-style body

Supple, slender double tails

Pros

Thin body helps with hook ups

Claws flutter at any speed

Multiple uses beyond vibrating jigs

Cons

Only one size available

Limited color selection

In this era of unprecedented options, lots of anglers forget about the humble double-tailed grub as a trailer, but it’s a great option when you’re not sure what else to use – it moves enough water to attract attention, but it’s also mild enough – and in this case, thin enough – that it doesn’t overwhelm the lure’s inherent action or impede hookups. The Twin Turbo comes at a reasonable price and with remarkable consistency and high-quality right out of the package. If you’re looking for unique colorways it may not be your best choice, but they have the staples covered, and it stands out just enough from the mostly round-bodied competition to make it a clear choice. With a few bags in your boat in standard colors, this is a lure that’ll bail you out of all sorts of jams with its incredible versatility.

Final Thoughts on the Best Chatterbait Trailers

Whether you refer to them as vibrating jigs, bladed jigs, or the generic Chatterbait, over the past two decades they made a full-on assault on the bass establishment. It took over shelf space previously reserved for spinnerbaits and swim jigs because there’s something about it that generates the most violent strikes from big bass. They work in a variety of water clarities and in everything from open water to cut-it-with-a-knife thick cover. While the lure itself is deadly, that has in some cases led anglers like me to dismiss the importance of the trailer that gets added to the back. Yes, you can go down the bank with any matching hunk of plastic on the back and expect to get some bites – the lure is that good – but with a little thought and strategy you can increase your success substantially. Grab a few packs of the best chatterbait trailers that match your needs and in colors that compliment your vibrating jig arsenal.

Best All-Around: Yamamoto Zako Swimbait

Best Finesse Trailer: Z-Man Elaztech Split Tail Trailerz

Best Finesse Craw Trailer: Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw

Best Action Craw Trailer: Strike King Rage Craw

Best All-Around Trailer: Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper

Best Grub Style Trailer: Missile Baits Twin Turbo Double Tail Grub

The post The Best Chatterbait Trailers of 2024 appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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