Whether you call it a Chatterbait, a vibrating jig, or a bladed jig, there is no denying that pro angler Brett Hite of Phoenix, Arizona has had a lot of success on the unique lure which features a metal blade in front of a rubber-skirted jig.
Hite has a BASS Elite Series win (Lake Seminole) and two FLW Tour wins (Toho and Okeechobee) to his credit thanks to a vibrating a jig. Over the years he has perfected every facet of his vibrating jig system except one: the trailer.
Hite needed a perfect vibrating jig trailer and none met his standards. And as the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
“I’ve tried every trailer out there, from craws and creature baits to swimbaits and boottails and I just never could find one that was just right,” Hite said. “They either needed to be modified or their action overpowered the bait or they tore up too easily.”
From conception to perfection
Through all his “trailer tryouts” Hite began to conceptualize the perfect swimbait-style trailer for a vibrating jig. About two years ago he took his ideas to Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits and began tinkering around with the different attributes to create the perfect vibrating jig trailer.
Ron Colby, Vice President of Operations at Yamamoto, worked side by side with Hite on the new design.
“Brett and I talked about this project for a year or so,” Colby recalled. “Then Brett came up to the office here in Page, Arizona and we sat down and drew this thing out on paper. From there we cut a couple of molds to try but it still wasn’t exactly right.”
“Finally, on the third mold we got the dimensions perfect but the plastic was still a little soft,” Colby continued. “From there I experimented with several different plastic blends to add durability, yet retain the action. Eventually we removed the salt and toughened up the plastic just a bit with our 3FS (Fat Baby Craw) blend and bingo, we hit the nail on the head.”
Naming the “little fish”
This past spring Colby poured Hite some limited samples of the new trailer to use on the B.A.S.S. Elite Series and Hite immediately hauled in a runner-up finish at Winyah Bay in April on a vibrating jig sweetened with the new trailer.
“We didn’t even have a name for it yet and Brett was already letting the cat out of the bag by nearly winning that tournament.” Colby said. “I asked Brett what we should name the trailer and he just kept calling it, ‘my little fish.’”
Colby soon learned that the word for “little fish” in Japanese was “Zako” and the Zako vibrating jig trailer by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits was born.
“The Zako is the absolute perfect trailer for a vibrating jig,” Hite said. “It’s 4 inches in length and has a deep belly for a larger profile like a bream, gizzard shad or shiner. And that has always been my goal: to have a swimbait trailer with a beefed up vertical profile without changing the vibrating jig’s traction through the water.”
“I know some swimming craws and creatures will work as trailers, but those pull the bait up and impede the action of the jig,” Hite added. “The Zako is a swimbait-style trailer that features a segmented back half and flanged tail, which transmits the vibration from the jig to the trailer instead of having a trailer creating its own action that fights the vibration of the jig. It’s a big profile trailer that causes very little drag on the jig and that’s exactly what I’ve been wanting for years.”
Another thing Hite relishes about the Zako is that he does not have to cut it, trim it or take a lot of time to carefully thread it on the hook.
“It’s ready to fish right out of the package,” Hite confirmed. “And it has a seam line right down the middle of the back that helps you line up the hook up perfectly so you’re not threading and rethreading the bait over and over trying to get it right.”
In addition the new Zako is complimented with some new colors from Yamamoto including a laminate with black and blue on top and green pumpkin on the bottom. Other new colors in the Zako include a rainbow shad, Tennessee shad and sight shad.
A Flipping Bonus
Though the Zako was designed to be the perfect trailer for a vibrating jig, after tinkering around with it, Hite says it just happens to make a great flipping bait as well.
“I put it on a Texas rig with a 5/16- or 3/8-ounce weight just to see what it looked like and I was stunned at what a great glide it had falling through the water,” Hite said. “It’s sort of like a tube, but has more glide, making it a great predator flipping bait when the bass are on beds. I’ve flipped it in eelgrass in Florida and in bushes in the Ozarks and bass can’t handle it.”
The Zako secret is now out
The Zako is now just becoming available for public purchase at tackle stores and online outlets around the country, something that Hite is a little tentative about.
“For obvious reasons, I’d like to have kept it under my hat for just a bit longer,” Hite laughed. “But these days it’s hard to keep something this good under wraps for very long.”
“The Zako is going to drastically improve a lot of guys’ vibrating jig fishing this spring,” he added. “And it’s pretty cool to see something that was just an idea in my head two years ago come into the market place to help people catch more fish.”
The Zako is currently available at various retail outlets, as well as on our online store: www.baits.com.