Advanced Primer – Vibrating Jigs

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Vibrating Jig Options - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Vibrating Jig Options – Strike King Rage Blade with Menace Grub ZMan Chatterbait, Pure Poison with Redfish Magic, Talon Lures Vibrating Jig (discontinued) with Berkley Hollow Belly Trailer, Big Bite Cane Thumper, Missile Baits Baby D Bomb, Gene Larew Sweet Swimmer – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

by Dan O’Sullivan

There may be no more controversial lure than the vibrating jig.  Not controversial in the way of the Alabama Rig, but if you were to go pro to pro and ask their opinions of the lure; you would get nothing short of mixed reviews.  for some, like Brett Hite (obviously) and a few others, the vibrating jig is a mainstay.  For others, like Gary Klein, the lure has not proven consistent enough in the hook to land ratio to warrant inclusion in his arsenal – yet.

The one thing that all will agree on is that a vibrating jig gets bites.  Hite has four tour level wins on the thing; two in 2008 and two this year.  Other anglers like James Niggemeyer, David Walker and Stephen Browning seem to always have one around, and the reason is that it flat out gets bites in the right situations.

We thought it would be prudent to look at the lure, how we’ve learned to fish it, some of the things we’ve learned from the pros about it, where to

Original ZMAN Chatterbait - photo by Emberlie O'Sullivan

Original ZMAN Chatterbait – photo by Emberlie O’Sullivan

fish it, and what kind of trailers to employ with it.  Basically, we thought it was time to do one of our Advanced Primer pieces on the vibrating jig.

Types of Jigs
Each angler has their favorites, and they all have their favorite components they like to see included in the construction of the lures.  At this point,

the main manufacturer of the category is ZMan, who acquired the original Rad Lures Chatterbait and continues to manufacture the original Chatterbait, along with several other models.

Strike King Rage Blade - photo by Emberlie O'Sullivan

Strike King Rage Blade – photo by Emberlie O’Sullivan

A few other industry manufacturers make similar products.  Such as Strike King, who makes their Pure Poison and just recently released the Rage Blade, a different offshoot that adds the weight to the bottom of the blade, instead of attaching the blade to a jighead.  Other than those, the category is largely a garage industry because of patents that have been able to be enforced costing several smaller companies handsomely.

The main operating difference between the two types is that the types with the blade attached to the jighead seem to be able to run a little deeper than the new Rage Blade from Strike King.  The Rage Blade seems to excel at riding higher in the water, making it ideal for shallow water or grass growing just under the surface.

Types of Trailers
There seems to be no limit to the types of trailers that are effective on a vibrating jig.  It all seems to be subjective based on the desires of the

Top to Bottom Strike Rage Blade ZMan Chatterbait and Strike King Pure Poison - photo by Emberlie O'Sullivan

Top to Bottom Strike Rage Blade ZMan Chatterbait and Strike King Pure Poison – photo by Emberlie O’Sullivan

angler making the selection.   From polling professional anglers, the most commonly used soft plastic trailer is typically some sort of swimbait or boot tailed bait.  However, others like the thin fork tailed soft baits that come in the packaging, or even a soft plastic jerkbait. We have seen single and double tailed grubs, creature baits, craws and even no trailers at all on vibrating jigs being used in the field.

The basic consideration is to find a profile that fits your needs.  A great rule of thumb is to try and present a bait that matches the overall size of the forage bass are feeding on.  Or, another rule of thumb is to try and appeal to the size of bass you are targeting with the lure.  If you are fishing a lake with average sized fish, a thinner more compact trailer should suffice.  But, if you are at a lake known for bigger fish use a bulkier trailer that mimics larger forage fish to try and draw strikes.

Again, color is something that each angler will view with their own bias, but it is wise to consider water clarity and forage base when selecting colors.  If bass are chasing shad, then a white skirt with nickel blade will work well in clearer water and a chartreuse and white with a gold blade will work well in stained water.

Swmbait Trailers Hollow Belly Swimbait - Big Bite Baits Cane Thumper  and Gene Larew Sweet Swimmer - photo by Emberlie O'Sullivan

Swmbait Trailers – Berkley Hollow Belly Swimbait – Big Bite Baits Cane Thumper and Gene Larew Sweet Swimmer – photo by Emberlie O’Sullivan

Some anglers feel that the lure should always mimic a bream, or darker color.  Some go with a black and blue combination while green pumpkin or some other bluegill type of color is very popular in stained water as well.  Most anglers prefer a black or green pumpkin blade when using these colors.

Where and How to Use Vibrating Jigs
Like so many reaction baits, a vibrating jig is best when there is some color to the water, and as with any type of reaction fishing, having any wind, from a strong breeze to stiff winds can’t hurt.

This category of lure is excellent around grass and other visible cover.  Because the blade vibrates so wildly, it seems to help the lure deflect off of cover well, including shedding grass with a snap of the rod tip.  With that in mind, retrieving them around any visible cover is preferred.  Try them around grass, laydown logs, dock posts, floating docks and even bridge pilings can produce strikes.

On unsung location for a vibrating jig is in a mudline.  As creeks begin to run with rain runoff, they wash sit into the water.  On clear water lakes,

Vibrating Jig Gear Reaction Bait Style (Top) and Jig Style (Bottom) - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Vibrating Jig Gear – Reaction Bait Style (Top) and Jig Style (Bottom) – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

the turbidity will break up the surface visibility, and a vibrating jig retrieved through the mudline into the cleaner water can be deadly.

The best anglers utilize an erratic retrieve with their vibrating jigs.  Employing twitches with the rod tip or alternating the pace of the reel handles can generate strikes from bass that would not take a straight retrieve.  When fishing around grass, allow the bait to bury up and either snap it off, or keep reeling until it breaks free; this often causes reaction strikes from bass.

This is where the most disagreement amongst anglers comes into play.  Many anglers view this lure category as a jig, while others feel that it is more like a spinnerbait or crankbait.

Those who view it as a jig tend towards stout gear.  7′ to 7’6″ medium-heavy graphite rods, 30 to 50-pound-test braided line and 6.2:1 to 6.5:1 retrieve reels are used.  For those who view them as reaction baits, 7′ to 7’6″ medium-heavy to heavy action glass rods, with 17 to 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line and the same mid level reels do the trick.

Vibrating Jig Habitat  - Many Target Options Here - photo by Emberlie O'Sullivan

Vibrating Jig Habitat – Many Target Options Here – photo by Emberlie O’Sullivan

Wrapping Up
We tend to fall into the reaction bait category.  In testing both schools of thought, we find that giving the fish a chance to turn with the bait with the glass rod achieves for solid hookups.  We also find that the parabolic bend of crankbait rods tends to help with the phenomenon of lost fish on a vibrating jig.

Either way, vibrating jigs are a lure category that demand attention.  With the amount of success Hite has shown recently and throughout his career; along with some other anglers,  This type of lure is bound to be around for a lot of years to come.