Thrift, ChatterBait Made History on Okeechobee in 2006 - Major League Fishing

Thrift, ChatterBait Made History on Okeechobee in 2006

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Bryan Thrift with a pair of Lake Okeechobee giants that were part of his winning weight in the 2006 event where the ChatterBait was unveiled. FLW photo
February 24, 2020 • Tyler Brinks • Bass Pro Tour

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – The Z-Man ChatterBait and the various vibrating jigs that spawned from the idea have undoubtedly changed bass fishing. These lures have been among the hottest techniques since the original first hit the scene.

It would be a safe bet to say that every angler in the field this week on Lake Okeechobee has some form of vibrating jig in their boat, and most likely tied to a rod they’re using in competition.

The bait was born in South Carolina, but Lake Okeechobee played a vital role in its popularity. And one angler competing this week was responsible for letting the world know about the ChatterBait.

Bryan Thrift won his first-ever professional tournament – an FLW Toyota Series  in January of 2006 – held right here on Okeechobee, thanks to one of the original ChatterBaits. And Thrift continues to use them everywhere he goes.

Bryan Thrift looks on as Bobby Lane weighs in his fish during an FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee. Thrift beat Lane for his first major win, thanks to a new bait. FLW photo

ChatterBait Origins

Even though 2006 was the coming-out party for the vibrating jig, Thrift recalls using them two years before that win.

“Ron Davis invented the original ChatterBait in Greenwood, South Carolina, and I remember seeing my first one and knowing it had potential,” Thrift said. “Once I used it, I obviously could tell it had a place in bass fishing with all of the vibration.”

Because it was so unique, Thrift said it took some time to take off and sell.

“Ron was having trouble selling it because it was so off-the-wall at the time,” Thrift said. “In 2005, I won an FLW event with it as a co-angler, but I didn’t say anything about it. Ron asked me to let people know if I did well with it again because they weren’t selling many of them. I agreed, and the next year, I fished my first pro event here on Okeechobee and had a great first day and caught two over 8 pounds with it and was in third place, so I talked about it.”

MLF’s very own Rob Newell, while working as a writer for FLW at the time, had this to say about the new lure:

Thrift is using a unique bait called a ChatterBait, a type of swimming jig with a blade in the front, and it seems to be working everywhere he puts it, including on his co-angler’s rod.

“I gave one to my partner and he’s now in second place in the co-angler Division.” Thrift said. “Between the two of us, I bet we caught 40 bass on it.”

Thrift lived up to his end of the deal.

“Usually the first day of an event, nobody says what they’re catching them on, but I made a promise to Ron that I would talk about it,” Thrift said. “I also knew that nobody in the tournament had one, and probably couldn’t get one to them in time before the tournament ended.

“Ron called me that night and said, ‘What did you do? We’ve had a few hundred orders this evening.’ The rest is history.”

That same tournament from 14 years ago also featured a prophetic statement from Newell.

“Needless to say, it looks like FLW Outdoors has a new fishing phenom on its hands,” Newell stated about Thrift (and possibly the ChatterBait) as he took the win over the second-place angler, Bass Pro Tour pro Bobby Lane.

Bryan Thrift’s original ChatterBaits from his 2006 win on Lake Okeechobee. FLW photo

The Newest ChatterBait

In 2007, Z-Man acquired the rights to the ChatterBait, and the lure continued to evolve and gain mainstream popularity.

“It’s amazing what they’ve done with it and there are so many great baits in the lineup,” Thrift said. “It keeps getting better starting with the Project Z, the Jack Hammer, and we’re working on a new version with a bigger blade.”

One of the benefits of being a fan of modern bass fishing is to watch the action unfold live on MLF NOW! and get a front-row seat of what the pros are doing.

At Lake Eufala during Stage One, Thrift finished second, and that was partially due to a new ChatterBait he’s working on. That bait was featured on the live stream before it’s even available to purchase.

It has a blade that’s approximately 2 1/2 times the size of a standard ChatterBait blade, and it creates a massive thumping action.

“It’s ridiculous how hard it thumps and the action is very erratic,” Thrift shared. “I had a few Top 10s with it last year and it is a big-time player in off-colored water because it has so much calling power.”

He added that it would be an excellent choice for fishing grass, offshore, and at night when the added vibration will help to attract fish.

It is all coming full-circle this week in Okeechobee as Thrift has a bait that most of the field doesn’t have in their arsenal.

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