I’m sure you’ve noticed when watching professional fishing events and from listening to anglers at your local fisheries that a bladed jig is one of the most productive lures out there. The Original ChatterBait, its subsequent models and imitators have produced millions of bass across the country. Over the last several years the Evergreen Jackhammer in partnership with Z-Man has become the gold standard of bladed jigs; I probably own at least 100 of them myself.
The bladed jig is a pretty straightforward lure, but an angler can have a good deal of influence as to the appearance and overall action of the lure in this category of trailers. We’ve seen different kinds of soft baits being used over the years from craws to creatures and swimbaits to minnows. I’ve settled onto a couple, and I thought I’d share them with you. Along with that, I’ll share the story of how Missile Baits brought our bladed jig trailer to market.
At the end of last season, I wrote a blog here on Bassmaster.com entitled “Back to the basics” where I talked about getting back to the basics as an angler. I felt like I tried to get a little tricky and overthink a few things, so I looked at what has worked for me in the past, and a bladed jig was one of them. I don’t know why it happened, but after catching half of my fish in winning the St. Johns River Elite tournament last year on a bladed jig, I didn’t throw it much the rest of the year.
I decided it was going to be a bigger part of my approach this year and experimented with trailers to get the overall best action and response from the fish. Like I said, I’ve settled on two, my Shockwave 3.5 swimbait or our new Spunk Shad 4.5 and 5.5, which is a partnership with Hog Farmer Lures.
The Shockwave is what I would call a medium action swimbait, one that doesn’t have too large a profile and doesn’t have the heaviest of tail kick. It makes an excellent bladed jig trailer but is one I use in cooler water and higher-pressure conditions. Since it is a lighter action, the tail action does not limit the hunting action of the Jackhammer — not in the slightest.
When I want a bigger profile and want the bladed jig to hunt a lot with its side-to-side tracking during the retrieve — which is most of the year — I use our new Spunk Shad. The ringed body of the bait gives it the larger profile I want, and the pin tail allows the Jackhammer to move more freely.
Let me tell you how the Missile Baits Spunk Shad came to be. Settling on that bait for me improved my productivity with bladed jigs, and with Missile Baits National Sales Manager Byron Childers and I having a relationship with Scott Schauwecker at Hog Farmer Baits, we began to discuss the possibilities for a collaborative project between our two companies.
It took a little while for us to develop the plan and for Scott to get comfortable with us licensing his bait, but it has been a very productive relationship for both of us. We carry six Missile Baits colors in the 4.5 and 5.5 sizes. Hog Farmer offers more colors and sizes than we do, but our exclusive colors are the ones that we sell, and they really match Jackhammer colors well.
Here’s when I use the different sizes. Most of the time I go with the 5.5 because it has the bulkier presence that I want while helping me control the depth at which the bait runs. This buoyancy allows me to fish it just over the top of submerged grasses more effectively. The 4.5 is the one I use in clear water when the forage is a little smaller or I need to be able to fish the bait a little deeper.
In my experimenting, I’ve found the perfect setup for the technique. I use a Cashion CK (Cashion Kayak) Series Chattergrass Rod which is a 7-foot, 4-inch medium-heavy moderate action. It’s perfect for throwing a bladed jig that is cash money for the technique. I pair that with a Daiwa Zillion SV TW reel with a 7.1:1 gear ratio. I spool that with 18-pound-test Sunline Shooter Fluorocarbon, the perfect balance of strength and control.
I’m happy to report that almost half of my fish at Lake Okeechobee came on this setup, and my teammate Ed Loughran caught every one of his fish in a top 12 finish on a Jackhammer and Spunk Shad combo.
Go try it next time you want to put some bass in the boat. It’s a great combo that will produce bites, and big ones, just like it does for me.