Chronicle of the original ChatterBait® |

Why aren’t all blade jigs the same?

“If the new idea isn’t absurd at first, then there’s no hope for it,” said a guy named Einstein. Or, paraphrasing the guy who founded Amazon: Striving to create something truly new implies a willingness to be misunderstood.. Perhaps automobile inventor Henry Ford said it best: “If he had asked the public what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.”

Proof that the rigging architects at Z-Man® were on the right track came almost in sync with the ICAST New Product Showcase 2022 and the unveiling of their latest mind-blowing creation.

Exhibit A: Z-Man’s HellraiZer™ The Tail Blade topwater lure was met with equal parts awe and uncertainty, exactly the kind of reception you’d expect from a lure with so many . . . eccentricities. The comments ran the gamut from ‘It will never workand ‘WTF?’ to ‘Looks like a surface ChatterBait!’ and ‘It’s refreshing to see something so innovative from an American fishing company.’

Of course, the HellraiZer, which glides across the surface with arguably unusual sound, vibration and action and has begun to show signs of a true angler, didn’t win. In case you’re keeping score, in their respective ICAST presentations, neither was the Original ChatterBait Blade Jig nor the preeminent ChatterBait JackHammer™ to follow. (We will humbly accept all subsequent badges of honor.)

All of which lines up with the aforementioned notions of real innovation; that is to say, that initial objections to a new, radical and unknown idea only strengthen its final status as an innovator, a classic and, finally, as an undisputed pioneer of the category.

Admittedly, the HellraiZer doesn’t exactly look like any other surface decoy released since 1937 (see Jitterbug.) But if you’ll recall, neither did their bladed jig predecessors.

The original bladed jig

Designed by the same man who worked in the same lure shop that hatched HellraiZer, the original Ron Davis ChatterBait once garnered disapproving looks and outright dismissals from every angler who saw it.

Imagine, then, stepping into the shoes of Bryan Thrift, one of the first professional anglers to tie a ChatterBait, circa 2004. Imagine fishing the 2006 FLW tournament on Lake Okeechobee, making those first exploratory casts on Florida Giant Bass, 8 and 9 pound Beasts who had never seen a ChatterBait in their lives. Looking back, no one is surprised by the ferocity with which the Okeechobee snook attacked Thrift’s blade jig, the lure that catapulted him to two consecutive major snook tournament wins. As word spread, the ChatterBait went from gimmick to overnight sensation, soon becoming the basis for dozens of imitations of it.