Chatterbaits and bladed jigs can be incredibly effective lures when used properly. Retrieving this type of lure at the right speed is essential to getting the action and motion necessary to attract fish. Generally speaking, chatterbaits require a fast retrieval, meaning anglers should be using gear ratios that are faster.
The best gear ratio for people fishing chatterbaits is between 7.3:1, and 8.1:1. In this article, we will discuss different gear ratios, and how to pick the best ratio for your fishing style.
What Is A Chatterbait?
A chatterbait is a type of lure that has a metal blade attached to the shank of the hook. The blade creates a vibration in the water as it moves, which simulates the motion of baitfish. Chatterbaits are often used to target bass, but can be effective for other types of fish as well.
What Factors Affect Your Gear Ratio Selection?
There are a few factors that you should consider when choosing the best gear ratio for your fishing. The first is the type of fish you are targeting. Different fish swim at different speeds, and feed at different speeds, so you will need to adjust your retrieval speed accordingly. For example, if you are targeting bass, a faster retrieve is often necessary to get their attention. In addition, different baits attract different fish. Certain carp baits for instance may not work well on bass, and vice versa.
Type of Lure: Different lures require different retrieval speeds to be effective. For example, if you are using a jerkbait, a slower retrieve is often necessary to get the bait to swim correctly, but a chatterbait will require faster retrieval.
Water Conditions: If the water is murky or stained, a slower retrieve is often necessary to give the fish time to find your lure. In clear water, a faster retrieve is often best because the fish can see your lure from a distance and will be more likely to strike.
Terrain: If you are fishing in open water, a faster retrieval may be best. If you are fishing around docks or in thick vegetation, a slower retrieve is often necessary to avoid snagging your lure, and giving fish enough time to react.
Water and Environment Conditions: Generally, fish in winter can often slow down, or in cold water temperatures. This may happen with weather changes as well. Sometimes, fishing will be more effective with faster or slower retrievals depending upon the conditions.
Personal Preference: Some anglers prefer a slower retrieval, while others prefer a fast retrieval. Try different speeds and see what works best for you.
Each of the above are simply recommendations, not rules. They all have exceptions, and each angler should make decisions based off of all of the variables they can consider.
Gear Ranges Explained
To simplify gear ranges, there are three ranges of gear ratio. These are high, medium, and low. Each have benefits and drawbacks based on specific fishing conditions.
Low Gear Ratio
The lower gear ratio usually uses bigger secondary sprockets. Therefore, you will get more power and torque on your end but the speed of the line gain becomes slower.
In the lower gear ratio, the most popular reels are 5:1, 5.3:1, 5.8:1, and 6:1. Slower gear ratios are not suitable for the chatterbaits. It is better with crankbaits and swimbaits or other moving baits.
Again, this setting of the reel works better in colder months or early spring, when anglers have to go deeper down the water. It provides you with torque and real slow presentation and helps to slow down.
This gear ratio helps to avoid the excess resistance you get while reeling in. Hence, you will be comfortable but with slower interaction.
6.3:1 is a low gear ratio that still may be good for chatterbait fishing in some situations. Deep cranking can be conveniently done using the 6.3:1 gear ratio of the reels. This is on the slower end for chatterbaits, but certain situations around weeds, for less active fish, and hitting deeper areas may make a 6.3:1 ratio a solid option.
The lower gear ratios have a pull of 25-26 inches of line per turn with the reel rotation. For this reasons, you likely should not use a lower gear ratio for the chatterbaits unless a specific situation calls for it.
Medium Gear Ratio
In the medium gear ratio, the balance between the power, torque, and speed can be seen. This makes it slightly favourable for the chatterbaits over lower gears because bladed jigs like chatterbaits require more speed than power.
The 7.1:1 and 7.3:1 are good examples of the medium gear ratio of the reels, but ratios up to 8.1:1 fall in this category.
These were considered to be high-speed gear ratios until reels with higher gear were introduced in the market. It is very popular among all types of bait usage and is known as the universal gear ratio for fishing.
You may get a pull of 28-30 inches of line with the reels of medium gear ratio. With this level of pull, we are still on the lower end of speed for the ideal chatterbait fishing, but it still can be done effectively. Most reels fall in this category, meaning that your average reel can fish chatterbaits effectively in most situations.
High Gear Ratio
In modern times, high gear ratios have become more popular among all types of anglers. It generally starts with the 8.1:1 gear ratio of the reels. But reels with 10:1 gear ratios have also been introduced in the market.
You will get a very high speed of the line pull with minimal energy waste rotating the reel. With a single turn of the reel, 36 inches of the line can be pulled by the spool.
That is why the high-speed gear ratio is more suitable for the chatterbaits or the bladed jigs.
High gear ratios allow for the fast retrieval to be easy for the angler to achieve, which imparts enough action on the lure to get the chatterbaits up to the ideal speeds to maximize effectiveness in most situations. Above 8.1:1 will still work, but in our opinion, an 8.1:1 gear ratio is the most effective and versatile ratio for chatterbaits.
What is the best gear ratio for chatterbaits?
We believe the best gear ratio for chatterbaits is 8.1:1.
What is a 7.1:1 gear ratio good for?
The 7.1:1 gear ratio falls in the medium speed reel. It is good for most of the available types of bait. It is very versatile for all types of fishing be it slow or fast. You can use it with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, swimbaits, and even chatterbaits.
What are 7.5:1 gear ratios good for?
The 7.5:1 gear ratio has a high-speed reeling. It can manage up to 30 inches of line pull with a single rotation of the reel. Therefore, it is better for the bladed jigs and swims baits such as the chatterbait. If you love flipping, punching and frogging then the 7.5:1 is suitable for you.
What Type Of Rod Is Good For Chatterbaits?
Any spin or baitcasting rod can be used for chatterbaits. Anglers will often use medium action rods for using chatterbaits through rocks and weeds, but will use faster action rods when fishing in open water. Medium action rod tips will help prevent tangles, and will help anglers present the lure a bit better in grassy or rocky areas.
Reel and gear ratio selection is very important for both beginners and expert anglers. The success rate of landing with fish may depend upon it. Moreover, the use of the bait type also depends upon the gear ratio you prefer.
Chatterbaits are very popular and one of the most used baits for fishing. People love it because of its fast movement and vibration inside the water. Therefore to use it more effectively, you must use a faster retrieval than other lures may require.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about