Best Gear Ratio For Chatterbaits & Jigs

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Just in case you don’t know, a chatterbait is actually a skirted jig that features a metal blade on the front designed to move in the water, in order to be visually striking, to create noise and vibrations, and to create a lot of water movement too.

With that being said, for these chatterbaits to function properly, your reel needs to have a good gear ratio. So, what is the best gear ratio for chatterbaits and jigs?

Most recommend a gear ratio between 6.3:1 and 7.5:1, with the vast majority of people saying that they prefer a solid 7:1 gear ratio. However, this depends on who you ask, as to a certain extent, this is a matter of personal preference.


What Gear Ratio For Chatterbaits Is Best?

When it comes down to it, the really cool thing about chatterbaits is the fact that they can be fished in many different ways.

Chatter baits are extremely versatile lures that you can fish either slow or fast. In other words, they tend to work really well whether you retrieve them slowly or quickly.

For instance, if you are fishing for any fish that like to be at the bottom of the water and around obstacles, then a good idea is to drag the bait along the bottom really slowly and have it knock into the obstacles.

This is a fantastic way to lure in ambush predators that are waiting in the weeds and around structures.

However, if you are fishing in open waters or you are fishing near the top of the water and it’s a very clear day, you can retrieve that chatterbait extremely quickly in order to attract the eyes and ears of fish from far and wide.

Remember that the whole point of the chatterbait. It’s that the blade on it moves back and forth really quickly, thus producing a whole lot of visual appeal, sound, vibration, and water movement.

The faster you retrieve that chatterbait, the more that blade will move and the more it will attract fish.

Most people recommend taking advantage of this movement and therefore it is recommended that a higher gear ratio be used.

If you are planning to go low and slow, then a 5:1 or a 6:1 gear ratio might be enough, but if you really want to generate as much noise and vibration as possible, then something like 7:1 or even 7.3:1 gear ratio is generally considered best.

Best Gear Ratio For Jigging

In case you don’t know how to fish a jig, all you have to do is let it hit the bottom and then move it up and down.

In other words, left the jig hook sink to the bottom and then count a few seconds or wait until you feel the spoon at the bottom.

Pop or snap your wrist upwards quickly a short distance so the lure quickly moves up a few inches, and let the lure that then dropped to the bottom.

As you can probably tell, a quick retrieval is not something that you really need when dragging.

Most people would agree that gear ratio between the 3.5:1 and 4.5:1 is best for jigging.

When it comes to jigging, the vast majority of people will use a gear ratio of 4:1. Remember, jigging is more about patience and technique than it is about speed.

How Do I Choose A Gear Ratio For A Baitcaster?

What is important to note here is that the most common baitcasting reel gear ratio on the market at this time is 6.4:1.

This is a very happy medium, because it is slow enough to handle stealth presentations, as well as fast enough to quickly haul in lures that need to move with speed.

Below are some of the main factors to consider when choosing the best gear ratio for your next baitcasting fishing reel.

If you are working in a large and open area that has a large strike zone, which means that there is a large are of water that fish might bite, then a slower moving reel is probably best, something between 4:1 and 6:1.

However, if you are fishing in an area that has a very small strike zone, so only a few dozen yards where the fish might bite, having a faster moving reel is probably best, something that will allow you to quickly cast and retrieve many times in a short amount of time, something like a 7:1 gear ratio.

If you are fishing in very open waters, using a faster gear ratio is probably best, especially for chatterbaits, because this will allow you to really crank up the speed of the retrieval, thus causing the chatterbait to make a whole lot of noise and movement.

However, if you are fishing at the bottom of the water, particularly around obstacles where ambush predators are, then a slightly slower moving reel is probably best.

Of course, what your reel gear ratio is like does also depend on the type of lure that you are using.

For instance, for a crankbait, a slower gear ratio like 5:1 or 5.4:1 is best, but for baits that rely mostly on movement to attract fish, ones such as buzzbaits, spoons, and spinners, a faster gear ratio is best, something like 7:1 or higher.

Quite honestly, if you are not a pro angler who plans to go out on a weekly or even a daily basis, chances are that you only want to buy one or maximum two reels.

If this is the case, we recommend going for the good of 6.4:1 gear ratio. This way, if you only have one reel, at least the gear ratio sits at a happy medium and allows you to effectively work with most fishing presentations, whether fast or slow.

Remember that you can always just turn the handle a bit less to slow things down, and vice versa.

Chatterbait vs Swim Jig

Ok, so swim jigs and chatterbaits may look similar, because they both feature little heads and bodies that look like a real bait fish, combined with skirts for added movement and visual effect.

However, chatterbaits also have an additional blade located at the front, with that blade producing a lot of reflections, vibrations, movement, and sound. As you can tell, they therefore have different uses.

When to Use a Chatterbait

Chatterbaits are nice because they work well in many different conditions. One of the best aspects of the chatterbait, AKA the vibrating jig, is that it can get slightly caught in weeds, and then yanks free.

This quick movement often causes a reactionary bite from fish, something that is essential to catching predatory fish like bass when they are not in the middle of feeding.

When it comes to reaction bites and submerged vegetation, the chatterbait is the way to go.

Moreover, chatterbaits tend to work well in all levels of water clarity, and they are excellent for building patterns as well.

However, keep in mind that if there is a lot of wood present in the water, and the water is clear, then a swim jig is probably your better bet.

All of that said, if you are pattern building in open water or fishing in grass, the chatterbait will perform very well. Chatterbaits are also fine to use on bright and sunny days.

When to Use a Swim Jig

If you want to use a swim jig, the best time to do so is on a cloudy day with fairly clear water.

Swim jigs are excellent for providing natural presentations that look real, and moreover, they also don’t produce much reflection or noise, so they work well at fishing for skittish fish that are easily spooked.

However, swim jigs can also work well in other situations, such as if there is plenty of wood and grass in the water, because there is not much on a swim jig that can get tangles.

Even if they do get stuck, a good yank should get it loose. Jigs are best used when a natural presentation is needed.


The bottom line is that if you are using a chatterbait, then a faster gear ratio of 7:1 or 7.3:1 is called for, but for a swim jig, something slower like a 4:1 will be just fine.

Now that you know about gear ratios of fishing reels, you can choose the one that works best for any given situation.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.