When you talk about game-changers in the sport of bass fishing, the bladed jig has to be at the top of the list.

When fishing on Lake of the Woods where I live targeting areas where both largemouth and smallmouth live makes sense. We’ve got some great tournaments, and you are going to need a mixed bag to win. I never realized just how much smallmouth like bladed jigs.

Whether I’m at home or fishing a Bassmaster Elite event in Florida, throwing bladed jigs around grass and vegetation is where that bait shines. You don’t want your bait to keep getting bogged down with weeds, so it’s essential to adjust the weight of your bait and retrieval speed so the jig just barely makes contact with the grass.

Fan casting the area is the best way to search for active fish. You might trigger the school after hooking one, or you can slow down and punch the area to pick it apart methodically.

In the summertime, wind often knocks the topwater game out. Instead, I’ll opt for a bladed jig and fish it just beneath the surface.

The greatest asset of a Z-Man ChatterBait Custom is its ability to cover water and trigger bites. The perfect rod for fishing bladed jigs has a fast tip to launch the bait, acute sensitivity to let me know what my lure is doing, and a parabolic action to absorb the fish's power to prevent it from jumping off. The IMX-PRO 883C BJR, paired with a Shimano Curado CU200HGK (7:4:1) spooled with 20-pound fluorocarbon, is the deal. The heavier line keeps the bait higher in the water column and allows me to use this series’ more powerful rod. When fishing bodies of water with extremely thick vegetation, like those found in Florida, I’ll spool my reels with 50-pound PowerPro Super8Slick V2 to help rip the bait free.

A bladed jig also triggers bites from bass living beneath and around docks. While some anglers skip jigs and plastic baits, a bladed jig offers a unique presentation that fools big bass into biting. When I’m specifically targeting smallmouth, fishing clear water or around pressured fish, I’ll opt for the ChatterBait Stealth. It has slightly less vibration and minimal flash compared to the original. The softer tip of the IMX-PRO 862C BJR allows for more precise casting and works better with the smaller 4/0 hook of the ChatterBait Stealth.

The majority of the time, a ½-ounce weight gets the job done, but I’ll scale back to ¼-ounce when fishing less than four feet of water and ¾-ounce in deeper water or windy conditions. Color choices: Black/blue, green pumpkin, sun perch, or white and shad patterns are all you need. What’s more critical is perfectly threading a Z-Man RaZor ShadZ on straight. Just biting a little bit off the head off the bait will make that much easier.