Join B.A.S.S. and enjoy all exclusive content for Members.
Join Now

When to throw a chatterbait vs a swim jig

Check out the secrets from Brandon Palaniuk, Greg Hackney and Brett Hite on when to throw a chatterbait vs a swimjig.

A tournament angler must fish efficiently to be successful. With that in mind, Brandon Palaniuk, Greg Hackney and Brett Hite have stumbled on a pair of techniques that are similar yet uniquely different. Both efficiently dissect cover and manipulate fish into striking — and they pair very well together. A bladed jig fished interchangeably with a swim jig provides the perfect one-two punch.

Palaniuk says both were instrumental to his 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, and he credits Bassmaster Elite Series angler Bill Lowen for drawing his attention to the swim jig.

Early in his career, Palaniuk fished a charity tournament in Alabama that Lowen won easily using a swim jig. Palaniuk saw he had much to learn with the swim jig and soon realized how it could complement a bladed jig in key situations.

At the 2017 Elite Series tournament on Toledo Bend Reservoir, he fished a bladed jig around submerged vegetation in deeper water the first two days, but realized it only began to produce during the mid-morning hours. On Day 3, he used a swim jig to trick bass that were gorging themselves during a morning shad spawn around shallow brush. The decision resulted in a fifth-place finish.

“The vibration vs. the swimming action of a jig plays differently to their senses yet looks very similar,” he said. “Varying the retrieve changes how the bait performs a lot. That one two punch allows you to cover a broad spectrum of the water column and adapt to instantaneous changes to either the fish or the cover you’re around.” Palaniuk believes the swim jig excels in shallow water because bass can feel and see it. In shallower, dingy to semi-stained water, he’ll build a skirt that is mostly black and white with a hint of chartreuse.

A bladed jig draws fish from farther away, especially in stained water, excelling when the surface is disturbed by wind. In deeper water, he’ll lean heavily on the bladed jig. He’ll often pump it off the bottom and reel steadily.
He’ll tie a green pumpkin skirt with strands of purple or orange mixed in to best mimic the bluegill that largemouth feed on.

At Toledo Bend, he used Humminbird 360 imaging and LakeMaster mapping to pinpoint the growth patterns of submerged vegetation. “Little points or isolated pieces of grass that stick out from it or a ditch that comes out of the grass off of a flat” are key, he said. Palaniuk casts parallel to defined edges of vegetative cover like milfoil or hydrilla. He selects jig weights and trailers to effectively control the running depth of either jig.

A swimbait trailer facilitates a straight, subtle retrieve. He adds a X Zone Adrenaline Craw, while fishing it over shallow grass, and continually pops it along. The Adrenaline Craw won’t move the jig as much as a boot tail swimbait like the X Zone Swammer or Mega Swammer will, but the tail of the swimbait moves a lot of water and makes a great baitfish imitation when fished slow. Using 15-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon, he’ll fish the bladed jig on an Alpha Angler Chatterbound 7-foot 3-inch medium-heavy baitcasting rod paired with a Daiwa Steez A reel. The swim jig requires the heavier-action Zilla graphite rod fished with heavy line, 17- to 20-pound fluorocarbon or 50-pound braid to keep the jig higher in the water column.