July 19, 2021
By In-Fisherman Staff
By the time you read this, Bryan Thrift will have already lipped livewells full of big bass on prototypes of a new bladed jig he’s been designing and tweaking on the down-low for the better part of 3 years.
Can’t blame Thrift if he’s been taking his sweet time, ironing out every little kink and imperfection—all while more of less enjoying the fruits of being the only angler on earth with a few of these bad boys in his boat. Tough job . . .
These days, safeguarding any sort of “secret new lure”—especially one with so much boom and bravado—is next to impossible. If you’ve been paying attention to recent bass tourney coverage, though, you might’ve caught a quick glimpse of the cage-rattling Big Blade ChatterBait hanging from Thrift’s rod tip. To date, the Z-Man-ChatterBait pro has flung the badass bladed jig toward several near-tournament wins, starting with 2nd place at the MLF Bass Pro Tour Stage One at Lake Eufaula last February.
Following 3 years of R&D, Thrift has given his blessing on the definitive, head-banging version and says it’s your turn experience the Big Blade ‘boom’.
“When you displace as much water as the Big Blade does, the result is a lure that can pull off moves and evasive actions that aren’t possible with any other bladed jig,” explains Thrift, who started the bladed swim jig sensation after winning his first FLW tournaments with a ChatterBait in 2005 and 2006.
Driven by a magnum engine of a ChatterBlade—70% more surface area and vibration than a standard hex-blade—the Big Blade ChatterBait puts a virtual subwoofer at the end of your line. Imagine how bass must perceive it. Given their innate ability to detect powerful, low frequency vibrations in water, the temptation to slam the bait can be overwhelming.
The ever-modest Thrift downplays Big Blade’s strike-inducing power: “Yeah, I’ve caught some big fish on it,” he chuckles. “When you first throw the Big Blade, though, you’re caught off guard by its aggressive drum-beat vibration and hard-charging, juking action; even more punch than you get with a regular ChatterBait. Wallops the rodtip and makes you believe a big bass could happen at any moment. Five, 6, and 8 pounders crush it. But the lure’s long range ‘pull power’ also attracts and triggers strikes from bass of all sizes. Throw this thing all day and your hands will continue ringing for a while.”
Featuring Z-Man’s ingenious, patented direct head-to-blade connection, the Big Blade ChatterBait churns water with that familiar super-tuned, easy-to-start action. “What some folks may not realize is that this direct ChatterBait connection is all about getting the blade to constantly knock the jighead and produce a specific clacking noise—incredibly appealing to bass,” believes Thrift. “You simply can’t do this with other non-direct bladed jigs, but it’s the little extra dimension of noise that makes the Big Blade and other ChatterBaits such awesome fish catchers.”
Up-sized in every aspect, the Big Blade ChatterBait arms itself with a razor thin, broad-billed, stainless ChatterBlade—70-percent more surface area than Z-Man’s original hex-blade.
“If you think a regular ChatterBait thumps, try cranking on one of these bad boys. Just by turning the reel handle a little faster or deflecting off cover, the magnum blade makes the lure hunt and dart off to the sides,” Thrift explains. “But even with such a big blade, the lure stays down and doesn’t blow out, even when you retrieve it a little faster. Get it into that sweet spot and the lure becomes erratic, evasive—and that’s when you often get bit. When the blade stops vibrating, that’s your signal to set the hook.”
Allowing ample bite and a sharp sting to the jaws of big bass, a heavy-duty 6/0 Mustad UltraPoint hook is custom-made to accept standard or larger sized trailers. Dual, piercing, conical keeper barbs adorn the jighead’s collar, gripping and locking soft plastic trailers securely in place.
Thrift, a confessed tinkerer who custom ties his own silicone skirts, has hand-picked nine of his favorite patterns for the Big Blade, down to the individual fiber. “Wanted to give anglers the exact same patterns I throw in tournaments, right out of the package.
“We did a cool black and blue one with extra fibers of green pumpkin (Black/Blue Candy) and a smoky blue flake (Bluegill) for a really hot bluegill look—my two favorites. And I’m pumped about the new refined Fire Craw pattern. Has a red-hot skirt matched to a fluorescent orange head and blade for the first time ever. Awesome prespawn and dirty water color.”
Thrift also calls out a special Shad pattern: “We went with an unpainted, but clear coated head, so you keep that sheen, but without that stark white look—a cool toned-down option for pressured bass and clear water.”
Another pro-level upgrade, the Big Blade features wire-tied skirts for durability and easier skipping. “Wire-tying makes the skirt flow and present more attractively,” notes Thrift. “You don’t have to re-adjust the skirt or worry about strands bunching up on one side.”
Although the Big Blade ChatterBait operates on bolder planes of sound and fury, Thrift says he throws the three bait sizes on the same 20-pound fluorocarbon he prefers for standard bladed jig work. He beefs up to a 7-foot, 3-inch heavy-action rod, effortlessly skipping the lure under docks, slow-rolling across rock banks and snaking it through submerged grass.
“The Big Blade starts thumping with the first crank of the reel. Even at slow retrieve speeds, such as you’d perform in prespawn or late fall cold water, you never lose that hard vibration. The lure hunts and gets erratic unlike any other bladed jig I’ve fished. Suffice to say, when you give it a couple cranks and feel it talk back, you get the feeling you’re in for an epic day on the water.”
Available in early fall, the Z-Man Big Blade ChatterBait features premium components for the utmost in on-the-water performance, whether you’re hunting trophy largemouths or monster pike and muskies. Sizes include 1/2-, 5/8- and 3/4-ounce versions and nine exclusive skirt/blade color combinations. MSRP $11.99. For more information, visit ZManFishing.com.