Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait

Chatterbait vs Spinnerbait

Matthew Davies image of chatterbait and spinnerbait

If you are new to fishing, you may be intimidated by the variety of bait options available. You have no doubt found yourself standing in the middle of the bait and tackle aisle of your favorite sports outlet store or department in complete awe of the sheer number of items there are on the shelves. As you are looking through the items, you start to wonder why on earth a person would possibly need this much equipment. Luckily for you, I, Matthew Davies, am here to provide some answers.

Every fishing spot and every day presents a new and different challenge. At the end of the day, that is the number one reason why there are so many different options at the tackle shop. Another reason comes down to preference. Just as there is more than one brand of battery or motor oil, there are many brands of fishing bait, and over time, people can develop a preference and even a loyalty for a certain brand. In other words, sometimes the overabundance of choices is merely due to the variety of different brands available.

That being said, there is one instance in particular where you’ll find some important differences between two types of bait that appear outwardly to serve the same purpose. I’m talking about chatterbait and spinnerbait. At first glance, the two types of bait appear to do the same thing. When in the water, both baits mimic the actions of baitfish. Their primary function is to attract bass by vibrating the water and giving off a flash of light reflected from the sun. However, the two types of bait will perform differently in different circumstances. Therefore, depending on the day and time of year, you may find one works better than the other. So, drop anchor and join me for a detailed conversation about when to use these two types of bait.

Water Temperature and Clarity

When you arrive at the location where you are going to be fishing for the day, you’ll want to assess the water temperature and clarity. Is it cold? Is it warm? Is it muddy? Is it clear? All of these questions will help you to determine the type of bait you will want to use. Personally, when the water is cold and muddy, I will likely be fishing with a chatterbait. I will make the switch to spinnerbait if the fish do not seem to be responding to my other bait, but in general, chatterbait tend to mimic the natural response of prey in cold water, making the fish more likely to bite.

Now, after spawn season, the water gets a little warmer and clears up quite a bit. During this time, you will want to make the switch to primarily using your spinnerbait. The reason for using spinnerbait in warm, clear water is that the light and vibrations are more attractive to the fish. They have just undergone a stressful mating ritual. They are hungry and looking for food. The vibration and light appear to the fish as something they usually eat. They will be quick to bite. Add that to the fact that spinnerbait is easy to retrieve, and you have the recipe for a great day on the water.

On a final note, you need to be aware that both baits come in a variety of sizes. These sizes translate into how much light and vibration they give off. Depending on the day and time of year, you might find that aggressive baits will not attract fish as intended. Make sure you test a few different sizes before making the switch to an entirely different type of bait.

Shad Spawn

In my experience, one of the best times to make use of spinnerbait is during the shad spawn. The reason is that the bait resembles the frantic feeding frenzy of the shad. When the water temperature rises above 65 degrees, the shad begin to spawn and start feeding. When you see them from the top, they resemble a giant ball of fish. If you watch long enough, you will notice them flee from time to time. That is because there is a predator fish nearby. Shad tend to spawn near hard objects and the bottom of lakes. When you see them, you will want to make a note of their locations and monitor the water accordingly. When the temperature rises, make your way to the area and cast out your spinnerbait. Refrain from using chatterbait in these situations as you will scare off the shad and also the predator fish that are in the area. The spinnerbait has a cleaner entry into the water that will not disturb the wildlife.

Bream, Bluegill, and Golden Shiners

If you find yourself fishing near schools of bluegill, bream, or golden shiners, you should opt for chatterbait. Although I can’t pinpoint a reason why chatterbait attract these fish, in my experience, they simply seem to work better.


 The best bait to use when you are surrounded by vegetation is chatterbait. The reason is that it quite often sinks to the bottom and becomes entangled on the base of the vegetation. While this may sound like a bad thing, I assure you it is not. When getting caught in vegetation, you often give a hearty tug to get the lure free. This action will cause the bait to reflect a lot of light and send a significant vibration through the water. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten a hit right after I unsnagged my lure from the underbrush.


Should you be in a boat and find yourself near the bank of a lake with brush overhanging the water, you might find it challenging to get your lure to where the fish are. In this situation, I would suggest using chatterbait. You will find it much easier to skip the lure closer to the bank where the fish are hanging out.


I, Matthew Davies, hope that you have found this blog helpful. Fishing can be a delightful way to spend the weekend. It’s even more enjoyable when you have the background knowledge to help hone your fishing skills. In the coming weeks and months, I will be writing more about fishing with the goal of sharing my knowledge and experience of fishing with you. I hope that knowledge will help you learn to love the sport of fishing as much as I do.

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