Several spring tournaments have revealed a technique that pro anglers have embraced and weekend anglers are starting to discover – fishing bladed jigs in the early prespawn.
That’s not to say they aren’t effective other times of the year, but like lipless crankbaits, they really shine most from early prespawn until the spawn.
The vibration they emit and the water they displace is a big reason for this. That’s why they are better suited in stained/muddy water and around grass. That blade churning ahead of the hook helps push the grass away from the bait, making it more weedless.
Bladed jigs do tend to snag more often around wood, but you can certainly fish them effectively there as well.
A key reason they are effective in colder water is they stay in the strike zone longer while emitting vibration and action.
The original Chatterbait started the trend a few years back, but we now have different versions on the market and we’re learning how to use them for the various conditions we face.
My Strike King sponsor has two versions, the Pure Poison, which has the blade banging against the head similar to the Chatterbait style, and the new Rage blade, which has the weight connected to the blade. The Rage is versatile; you can fish it horizontally like a standard bladed jig but also vertically, like a pitching jig.
With the blade banging against the head on the Pure Poison, the bait twitches as it vibrates, offering an additional triggering quality. It also is attached to the head with an oval split ring that can’t open and that allows the blade to bang harder against the head. I prefer the Pure Poison for fishing horizontally over shallow grass and wood.
The weighted blade on the Rage version allows me to use a slightly heavier bait and fish it about the same speed and depth as I do a lighter Poison.
And because it falls head-first when you pause it, I can run it along the shallow side of a dock and kill it, allowing it to fall vertically just like a regular jig. I can also fish it effectively in deeper water. I’ve also found the Rage Blade is more weedless around wood and the hook-up ratio tends to be better.
I’ve also discovered ways to overcome a common problem of missing and losing fish on these baits.
I’ll fish it on braid in heavy grass, but I’ve found that I’m less likely to jerk the bait away from the fish when using 20-pound fluorocarbon. Also, the heavier line controls the depth over grass and wood.
I’ve also switched to using cranking composite rods instead of graphite and this made a huge difference. I still feel the bites, but my hook-ups are much greater because of the slower rod action. I also use a 6:1 geared baitcaster which allows me to slow the bait yet still catch up to the bass that bite and run toward me.
Skirts on bladed jigs add bulk and lift, but you can also remove them and opt for a plastic trailer, depending on the speed and depth you are fishing.
In either case, I always add either a 4- or 5-inch Caffeine Shad soft jerkbait for clear water or a 4- or 5-inch Swimming Caffeine Shad in heavily stained water. The Caffeine Shad has a nice, side-to-side swimming action while the Swimming version has a paddletail that adds more disturbances for dirtier water fishing.
Color choices are based on water clarity; dark or bright colors in dirty water, natural colors in clear water.
If your lakes are coming out of winter, tie on a bladed jig in early spring. You might find a cool trick to add to your pre-spawn arsenal.
And remember, it’s all about the attitude!