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What in the HellraiZer? Z-Man’s Unconventional Topwater Chatterbait


Date: 7/18/22
Tackle Type: Lures
Manufacturer: Z-Man
Reviewer: Zander

Ron Davis of Chatterbait® fame is at it once again with the introduction of a new take on the chatterbait design, this time bringing the vibration bait to the surface. The HellaiZer is designed to harness the sound and action of the ChatterBait bladed jig and adapt it for topwater applications.


Z-Man's newest, and perhaps strangest looking lure, the HellraiZer


Bringing the Chatter to the Surface: I’ve been fishing the HellraiZer first run products for a month now as Z-Man gave us a preview of this bait prior to this week’s ICAST show. The first time I saw and held the HellraiZer in my hand I remember saying “what the hell is this thing?”


What in the HellraiZer is this?


The HellraiZer doesn’t look like a Chatterbait, heck it doesn’t look quite like anything else out there and features a combination of a weighted metal blade with a floating pencil shape. When I first saw the bait I wasn’t even sure which direction was forward, and where to tie the bait. In some ways the bait is the reverse of a traditional chatterbait with the vibrating blade being dragged behind the bait versus generating vibration attached on the front.


A chatter style weighted blade positioned in the rear generates all the action


Pro Angler Bryan Thrift was involved in fishing the early prototypes of the wild looking HellraiZer and said, “I remember fishing the early versions of Ron’s remarkable topwater lure and hoping I could keep it to myself for a while. After fishing the definitive Z-Man HellraiZer this season, I can tell you this lure has an action and a vibration every angler needs to experience. The HellraiZer definitely has that familiar ChatterBait feel, a combined sound and a swimming motion no topwater lure’s ever had before.”


Notice the line tie location is set way back behind the front of the lure to aid with the side by side motion


Ron Davis talked about the HellraiZer’s origins. “Going back almost to the beginning of the ChatterBait and Bryan Thrift’s first big tournament wins, we knew we had something pretty extraordinary on our hands,” noted Davis. “All along, though, I kept returning to my passion for topwater fishing for big bass and stripers, and potential ways to bring the distinct vibration of a ChatterBait topside. From the beginning I wanted to create a very specific type of topwater action. Needed to really resemble something alive and frenzied, like an injured fish or a fleeing critter. We’ve all seen how prey swims with these almost dizzy, disoriented side-to-side surface movements—always propelled by a tail or kicking back legs. It’s not a mechanical walk-the-dog action, but something more natural you might mistake for a real animal in distress. When you see it in the water, you just know it’s something alive.”


Twin steel BBs are in the rear to add noise and extra vibration


Based off an original hand carved design the HellraiZer’s slender body is finished with an eyelet and split ring positioned in the lure’s chin and set back from its nose. Davis explained that this non-traditional location was required to achieve a specific side-to-side fleeing action. The HellraiZer's armed with two hooks, a treble hook rides the lure’s midsection and a second feathered treble trails the blade, providing bonus color, flash and natural flow. These hooks are positioned to maximize conversions and further elevating hookset success is the lure’s low-profile position; the HellraiZer rides low in the water, preventing it from being blown out. For increased sound attraction, twin steel BBs in the lure’s body clack audibly to attract bass with extra sound and vibration throughout the retrieve.


A closer look at the way that the free swinging rear blade is mounted


When fishing the HellraiZer for the first time I found that it is best fished with a brisk to high-speed retrieve. Fished in this way the HellraiZer will deliver vibration and a visual bubble trail. I caught all my fish going quickly with the bait with the rod tip pointed down. The best way I can describe the behavior of the bait is mimicking fleeing baitfish action, and if you have a high-speed ratio reel (7:1 or higher) it is very easy to fish.


The HellraiZer may be weird looking but it does catch fish once you figure out how to fish it. While not conventional I have to give it up to Z-Man for not just releasing me-too products


Our Quick Take: The HellraiZer is one of those baits that you really must fish to appreciate. Admittedly the first time I saw the bait I really didn’t know what to make of the weird profile, blade position, or line tie location. It will be interesting to see how anglers react to this wild looking bait and in my case that initial shock, and question as to whether this bait even works, went away quickly once I witnessed how fish reacted to it. Retrieved quickly when bass are feeding on baitfish near the surface the HellraiZer is surprisingly easy to fish and generates some quality blowups. Every fish I’ve caught on the HellraiZer thus far have been on the rear hook which leads me to believe that most fish are pursuing it from the rear versus rising up on it, and likely chasing it for long distances. I’m also interested to see whether this bait will perform well for night fishing and we will explore it further in a complete review post ICAST.









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