9 Best Trailers For Chatterbait In 2023 (Tested And Reviewed)
UPDATED 12 MAY 2023
by Robert Ceran
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If you’re thinking about throwing chatterbaits for bass, it’s essential to use the right trailers, as trailers can make or break your success with this lure type.
My team and I tested the most popular railers for chatterbait on the market, and evaluated them for their action in the water, ability to catch fish, durability, and overall performance.
Based on our testing, here are our picks of the best chatterbait trailers in 2023:
- Best swimbait trailer: Yamamoto Zako
- Best paddletail trailer: Strike King Rage Swimmer
- Best budget: Z-Man Razor ShadZ
- Best fluke: Zoom Bait Super Fluke
- Best scented: Z-Man Jerk ShadZ
- Best craw trailer: Strike King Rage Tail Craw
- Best grub trailer: Z-Man GrubZ
What are the best chatterbait trailers?
The table above compares the 9 best chatterbait trailers that we tested side by side.
Let’s dive into the details and look at each of these trailers more closely.
The Yamamoto Zako is the most widely used chatterbait trailer, and for good reason. Our testing revealed that it has a finely balanced swimming action that pairs perfectly with the strong vibration of a chatterbait blade.
Part of the swimming action of the tail is created by the 4 ribs that are located in the rear half of the Zako, which give it a life-like wigging action of a small fish in the water.
It’s also worth noting that the Zako was specifically designed to be used with a chatterbait, and as a result its balanced swimming action is the result of extensive testing by Gary Yamamoto’s team.
Strike King Rage Swimmer
Based on our testing, the Strike King Rage Swimmer is the best paddle tail swimbait trailer for chatterbait, and in contrast to the Yamamoto Zako, it has ribs along its whole body, except for the tail region.
This rib design gives the whole tail a subtle vibration during retrieval, which works extremely well with a chatterbait.
When we put it to the test, we found that another advantage of the Rage Swimmer is that it comes in 16 different colors, to help you test what color works best in your fishery.
Some bass anglers don’t like the paddle tail, since it creates an extremely strong vibration in the water that competes with the vibration of the chatterbait blade.
If you fall in this camp, an easy fix is to cut off the paddle, which leaves you with a more subtle vibrating action.
Z-Man Razor ShadZ
The Z-Man Razor ShadZ comes with a small baitfish profile, and has a relatively subtle wiggling action in the water, created by the 2 ribs in the rear half of the trailer.
When we tested it, we found that one of its best features is that it is made of extremely durable ElaZtech soft plastic, which is almost indestructible.
Many bass anglers report that they use a Razor Shad for almost half a season without having to replace it, even if it gets hit by fish on every fishing trip.
This durability of the ElaZtech plastic makes the Razor ShadZ the best value chatterbait trailer, as you don’t need to replace it as frequently as other trailers.
Z-Man Diezel MinnowZ
The Diezel MinnowZ is a paddle tail swimbait that comes with a smaller paddle than the Strike King Rage Swimmer, and our testing showed that this gives it a more subtle vibration of the tail during retrieval, which many bass anglers prefer.
This is also the swimbait that Z-Man chose to pair with their skirtless Diezel Chatterbait, which is touted by a secret inside tip by many bass anglers.
The extra large 5” and 7” versions of the Diezel MinnowZ also make great lures for lake trout, pike, as well as bull redfish.
Zoom Bait Super Fluke
For us, the Zoom Super Fluke is the best chatterbait fluke trailer, but at 5.25” it’s a little too large for most chatterbaits.
However, this is easily fixed by cutting off a small portion from the front end before you thread it onto the chatterbait hook.
In general, our tests showed that it’s a good idea to adjust the length of your chatterbait trailer until it is a perfect fit with the chatterbait that you’re throwing, which is why it’s best to buy chatterbait trailers that are a little too long, since that allows you to cut off however much you need to.
Z-Man Jerk ShadZ
The special feature of the Z-Man Jerk ShadZ is that it is a scented trailer, and our testing revealed that this can help to trigger strikes from bass that don’t respond to regular chatterbait presentations.
The scent is created by impregnating the soft plastic of the Jerk ShadZ with ProCure, which is a 100% natural product.
The ideal size Jerk ShadZ for chatterbait is either 4” or 5”, and as mentioned above we like to get trailers that are a little too large, and then trim them down to fit our chatterbait size.
Strike King Rage Craw
The Strike King Rage Craw comes with two realistic pincers, and when we put it to the test, we found they have a perfectly balanced undulating action when the trailer is pulled through the water.
This makes it the ideal soft plastic crawfish to throw when bass are feeding on crawfish.
The Rage Craw comes in several colors, the most popular of which are the pumpkin green/brown variation, or the bright red variation, which resemble crawfish colors at different stages of their lifecycle.
Based on our testing, the Z-Man CrawZ is the runner up best craw trailer for chatterbaits, and while the pincers don’t have quite as much action as the Rage Craw, the CrawZ overall resembles a crawfish more realistically, including a tucked under tail.
With a size of 3.5”, the CrawZ is ideal for most chatterbaits, and our testing showed that you should aim to thread it onto the chatterbait hook so that it pokes out of the craw head, with the pincers trailing behind.
The Z-Man GrubZ is the best grub trailer for chatterbait. And while grub tails are not very often used on chatterbaits, they make an excellent trailer option when other trailers don’t work.
Keep in mind that many bass anglers throw chatterbaits, and as a result of this the bass learn to avoid the most commonly used trailer variations.
So in order to have a competitive advantage in heavily pressured fisheries, our tests revealed that it’s a good idea to have a broad range of chatterbait trailers that fall outside of the commonly used options.
The GrubZ has an enticing wavelike action of its curved tail during retrieval, which works very well with the vibrations of a chatterbait blade.
Should you use a trailer on a chatterbait?
While our testing showed that a trailer is not strictly necessary, using a trailer on a chatterbait significantly improves your chances of catching bass.
This is because the vibrating blade on a chatterbait is effective at attracting bass to come closer and investigate, but this is often not enough to trigger a bite.
So you’ll often get bass that just follow your chatterbait without eating it. However, when you put a trailer on a chatterbait, this mimics the swimming action of a small minnow, shad or crawfish.
When a bass comes in closer to investigate it spots the baitfish, and this is often enough to “seal the deal” and trigger the bass to eat your chatterbait. In other words, using a trailer improves the effectiveness of a chatterbait by a lot.
If you’re currently in the process of putting together your chatterbait setup, check out our article on what rod should you use for chatterbaits?
What kind of trailer do you put on a chatterbait?
There are 3 main types of trailers that you can put on a chatterbait:
- Swimbait trailer
- Craw trailer
- Fluke trailer
Each of these types of trailers comes in additional variations (such as paddle tail swimbaits, or scented trailers), but these 3 categories cover more than 95% of the chatterbait trailers on the market.
In general, our testing showed that it’s ideal to have several trailers of each category in your tackle box, so you can try a few different ones, in order to figure out what the bass like on your fishery.
Also, remember to try out multiple color options (more on chatterbait trailer color below).
While chatterbaits traditionally come with a skirt, some anglers are reporting a lot of success with skirtless chatterbaits. If this is something you’d be interested in, check out our article on what is the best trailer to put on a skirtless chatterbait?
What size trailer do you need for a chatterbait?
Based on our test results, the best size trailer for a chatterbait is between 3” and 5”.
For most chatterbait trailers, the ideal size is 3.5”, but in the case of grubs or plastic worms, you can go up to 4” or even 5” (since these need a long tail in order to swim properly).
Keep in mind that a trailer that’s too long can result in more short strikes, since the bass don’t manage to get the whole chatterbait inside their mouth immediately.
If you notice this happening, an easy fix is to shorten your trailer by cutting off a little piece from the front end.
But always make sure that the trailer is still long enough to swim properly during retrieval.
How do you rig a trailer on a chatterbait?
In order to rig a trailer on a chatterbait, start by holding it up against the chatterbait, and decide where you want the hook to poke out of the trailer.
Then take the thick end of the trailer, and poke the point of the chatterbait hook into the hollow center of it.
Next, carefully thread the chatterbait onto the hook shank, and poke out the hook at the predetermined spot on the trailer. In most cases, you’ll want to thread the trailer to the back of the jig head, but no further than that.
When it reaches this point, it is usually held in place by one or more wire keepers, and as a result won’t slide off during use.
If you’re new to fishing with chatterbaits, you may also be interested in our article on the question is a bladed jig the same as a chatterbait?
Can you put a trailer hook on a chatterbait?
Yes, our testing showed that you can put a trailer hook on a chatterbait, though you have to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the swimming action of your chatterbait trailer. Some bass pros use trailer hooks on chatterbaits to improve their hook up ratio.
Chatterbaits are notorious for resulting in a lot of short strikes while bass fishing. The reason for this is that the metal blade of the chatterbait seems to pry open the mouth of the bass when you set the hook after it has “inhaled” the chatterbait.
In addition to using a trailer hook, another way to improve the hook up ratio is by using a softer moderate action rod, which doesn’t yank the chatterbait out of the mouth of the bass while setting the hook quite as quickly (compared to a fast action rod), resulting in more successful hookups.
How do you fish a chatterbait with a trailer?
The simplest way to fish a chatterbait with a trailer is with a straight retrieve, either by burning it quickly over the top of grass, or by slow rolling it close to the bottom.
When fished this way, the vibration of the metal blade of the chatterbait plus the swimming action of the trailer is enough to trigger bites from bass.
However, it’s usually more effective to vary the retrieve by adding very short pauses and speeding the chatterbait up after pausing it.
Very often you’ll get a strike right at the moment when you speed up the chatterbait. This is because a chatterbait speeding up mimics a baitfish trying to get away from a bass, which triggers a reflex reaction in the bass to eat it.
Another great way to achieve the same result is by bumping the chatterbait into cover (such as rocks or stumps) during the retrieve, which also often results in reaction strikes from bass that are following the chatterbait.
What are the best Z-man chatterbait trailers?
Overall, the most popular Z-Man chatterbait is the Razor ShadZ, which is hands down the most durable chatterbait swimbait trailer on the market.
Made of ElaZtech soft plastic, it’s so tough that you can use it for months before having to exchange it for a new one, even if you catch lots of fish on it.
In addition to the Razor ShadZ, many bass anglers also like the Diezel MinnowZ (which is a paddle tail), and the GrubZ (which is a grub tail).
All in all, you can’t go wrong with Z-Man chatterbait trailers, since they invented chatterbaits, and have been working on creating high quality trailers ever since.
What color is best for chatterbait trailers?
As a rule of thumb, our testing shows that it’s best to use natural color chatterbait trailers when the water is clear, and bright color chatterbait trailers when the water is stained.
Also, if you choose natural color chatterbait trailers, try to match the hatch and choose colors that resemble the forage that bass are keyed in on.
For example, when bass are chasing shad in fall, go for silver, gray, or other colors that resemble shad. And when bass are feeding on crawfish, go for pumpkin green, brown, or red craw trailers, depending on the season.
Finally, it’s also important to match the color of the trailer with the color of the chatterbait skirt. In other words, you should have a range of different chatterbait colors plus matching trailers that you can pair up with them.
White chatterbait trailers
During our testing we found that white chatterbait trailers are generally best in stained water with very low visibility, as they are easier to spot for a bass.
The nice thing about chatterbait is that the vibration of their blade can attract fish even when visibility is low, but by using a white or chartreuse trailer, you’ll make it easier for the bass to see the chatterbait when they get close enough.
Red chatterbait trailers
Red colors are ideal when using craw trailers, since the red color mimics their natural color during part of their lifecycle.
However, another reason for using red is simply to surprise the bass with lure colors that they aren’t accustomed to, which is most important when targeting pressured bass.
Dark chatterbait trailers
Dark chatterbait trailers can be viewed as a “wild card” color option, since they usually don’t match the hatch, but can still be very effective at triggering bites.
Also, some bass anglers like to use dark chatterbait trailers in stained waters with low visibility.
Methods and gear used for testing
For consistent testing results, we tested all of the chatterbait trailers in this review with a 1/2oz chatterbait, and fished them with the same rod and reel setup. The rod we used was a 7’3″ Medium Heavy Fast Action Dobyns 735cb Glass, paired with an Abu Garcia Revo X with 7.3:1 gear ratio, and spooled with 14 lb test Power Pro braided line. We tested all of the trailers by throwing them in 3 to 12 feet of water on Lake Okeechobee.