Pretty compelling when someone wins a bigtime bass tourney with a super cool bait off the mainstream radar. But when five of the top ten anglers single out this same exceptional lure, including the top 3 finishers, it could be fairly classified as a big deal.
The plot thickens even more when none of the winning anglers are sponsored by the lure manufacturer in question. Call that a big statement.
Just such a scenario played out at the recent FLW Tour event at Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes, where the all the top finishers seemed to be giving props the same lure, a Z-Man ChatterBait brand bladed jig. Eventual champion Chris Johnston edged his buddy and fellow Ontario resident Jeff Gustafson by a mere two pounds, using the same ½-ounce, white Z-Man / Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer™ vibrating jig Gustafson gave him on the eve of the final day.
“Super happy for Chris,” said Gustafson. “For two Canadians to come down here, fish the same baits and finish #1 and #2 is just awesome.”
During the three-day event, many of the anglers lamented the fact that the lake hosted historic densities of hydrilla, including clumps of the invasive plant growing all the way down to 12 feet of water.
Gustafson and several other anglers discovered a ChatterBait bladed jig could be fished similar to the locally popular method of ripping lipless crankbaits, but without constantly snagging salad. He also noted the ChatterBait Custom lure scored near tournament winning largemouths at the January FLW event on Lake Okeechobee.
“At the Harris Chain tourney, I fished the ChatterBait JackHammer from beginning to end,” he continued. “Unlike a lot of the northern lakes we fish where vegetation forms distinct edges, down here the hydrilla grows in almost random clumps. I focused most of my energy on those deeper clumps in 8 to 12 feet of water. Best spots were holes in the vegetation where it was matted up to the surface.
“In the sparser areas, I’m sure you could have caught ‘em on a ‘trap (lipless crank), but in the thicker grass, the heavy duty ChatterBait was money.”
Most of Gustafson’s bass bit while he presented the vibrating jig aggressively. “I was just ripping and popping the bait in place, letting the blade do its thing. The other key was the Z-Man RaZor ShadZ™, a super durable, segmented shad-profile bait. Put one of these on a ChatterBait and it can last at least 30 to 40 fish.”
Meanwhile, third place finisher John Hunter focused efforts on slightly shallower hydrilla flats. He chalked up his final weight of 75-pounds 13-ounces to two jerkbaits and a ChatterBait JackHammer bladed swim jig. On the final day, the ChatterBait lure tempted a beautiful 7-pound hawg, captured by FLW’s cameraman.
Two other top-ten anglers also credited Z-Man ChatterBait brand vibrating jigs. Buddy Gross, who finished 5th and Jared McMillan, who notched the 9th spot, both called out the unique bait as one of their difference-making presentations.
Creator of the Original ChatterBait bladed jig, Z-Man Fishing recently announced a new ¾-ounce size of its ultra-refined ChatterBait JackHammer, a lure that will be debuted at the Bassmaster Classic Expo in March. Designed by Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brett Hite in conjunction with Japanese luremaker Evergreen International, the JackHammer features a low center of gravity swim jighead, Gamakatsu® heavy wire flipping hook and Decoy® Egg Snap, among other innovative extras.