North Carolina's Bryan Thrift fished this year's FLW Tour and is currently 4th in the BassFan Rookie of the Year (ROY) Race. Notable too is that he won the FLW Tour's ROY award. He's a versatile fisherman, but to this point, he's still best known as the guy who started the whole ChatterBait craze.
For those BassFans who've just come out of hibernation, the ChatterBait (created by Rad Lures) is a jig with a vibrating blade attached to the hook eye, with a snap-lock hooked through the middle of the blade. The line ties to the snap, and the result is a bait that casts like a jig, but swims with a fierce vibration and shimmy.
"The ChatterBait played a big part in my ROY win," Thrift said. "I threw it in about half the tournaments. At the Potomac River event I caught all my fish on it (He finished 69th.–Ed.). At the Detroit River, my electronics went out, and so I went in the river to try to salvage the day.
"The ChatterBait saved me in that tournament. I just put the trolling motor on high and started casting it and covering water." That was the season-ending event, and his 160th-place finish was enough to clinch the ROY title.
According to Thrift, there's hardly a situation where he won't throw a ChatterBait.
"I started fishing it in I think 2003, in local tournaments around here," he said. "Then I just kept on using it when I went to the Stren Series and the FLW Tour.
"The big thing is the action it has. The imitations just don't have the same action. I use the 3/8-ounce size most of the time and fish it on 17-pound line. That's a good all-around combination in shallow-water situations.
"I think the 1/4-ounce size is better when fish are active," he added. "The lighter weight lets it dart and dive better, especially when I'm burning it. I can work it with the rod and reel handle, twitching it and pausing it, to get a real erratic action.
As noted, rare are the times when Thrift won't at least give the ChatterBait a try.
"The options are really endless," he said. "Anytime you have stained water, and shad along the bank, you can throw it around laydowns and docks."
One situation where he feels the ChatterBait excels is around grass. Crawfish and sunfish hang around there, so he typically opts for a darker bait with some orange in it. "I slow-roll it through the grass, then let it fall into the holes, and rip it out," he said.
He also strokes a 1/2-ounce ChatterBait on deep ledges (he recommends 12-pound line for that technique), or slow-rolls in 15 to 20 feet of water, just like a spinnerbait, at lakes like Wylie, Norman and Eufaula. "That's good when you have fish sitting on drops, waiting to ambush bait."
And as fall sets in, he moves into creeks with the ChatterBait, "when they're not really on the bottom, but hovering around the bait. The noise gets their attention, the flash attracts them, and the action triggers them."
Thrift says brown is a good ChatterBait color for practice – he puts the trolling motor on high and burns down the bank in search of fish.
Although the above list of applications is extensive, things don't stop there. Here are some other situations in which Thrift to "Chatter."
All in all, he rarely puts it down. "I've yet to see where it spooks them," he noted. "I generally won't use it real shallow when I'm sight-fishing for cruisers, but that's about the only time."
It's also a great tool in practice. "I put the trolling motor on high in practice and run down the bank. I tie on a brown or white/chartreuse ChatterBait and burn up the water – throwing it to see what the fish are doing and if they're in the area. It's both a scouting and a tournament bait."
> Thrift throws his ChatterBaits on 12- to 17-pound fluorocarbon most of the time, but goes to braided line for heavy grass fishing. Sometimes he goes as light as 10-pound line for schooling fish, to get a long cast.
> About rod choice, he said: "I use a 6'6" medium-heavy rod for shallow water, and a 7- to 7 1/2-foot rod for deep water, so I can get a better hookset and don't have to set the hook twice," he said.
> The ChatterBait's available in different blade sizes, but Thrift prefers the original one. "I use the same (blade) size all the time" regardless of jighead weight, he said. "It's not too much or too little for me." He uses gold blades in dirty water and keeps three or four blade colors and five or six skirt colors nearby ready to try.
> The BassFan Store carries a wide selection of ChatterBaits. To view the selection, click here.