No one knows for sure when Ron Davis first envisioned his original surface slashing ChatterBait. That includes Davis himself, whose workshop harbors an astonishing collection of never-before-seen, mostly nonconformist fishing lures. Some of these, Davis reserves for his personal fishing experiments. Others, like the new Z-Man HellraiZer . . . let’s just say this one was too good to remain undercover any longer.

“I remember fishing the early versions of Ron’s remarkable topwater lure and hoping I could keep it to myself for a while,” laughs Z-Man ChatterBait pro Bryan Thrift. “After fishing the perfected 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, proven ChatterBait feel—a combined sound and a swimming motion no topwater lure’s ever had before.”

Davis, whose Original ChatterBait launched tournament careers and attracted waves of imitators starting in 2004, recalls 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,” notes Davis, a lifelong lure craftsman. “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.”

To create the illusion of surface panic, Davis designed a precisely weighted tail blade to trail the lure’s body, mimicking the churn and chaotic tail and leg kicks of prey in distress. Oscillating on a wire shaft, directly connected to the lure’s body, Davis’ modified ChatterBlade drives the lure’s energetic action and proven vibration.

“I knew if I could duplicate the desirable sound and action of a ChatterBlade—make this the lure’s driving force—I’d have something that really captured the fish’s primal instincts,” explains Davis.

Z-Man’s remarkable tail-bladed topwater lure attracts bass with a unique combination of sound and action.

Still, the ChatterBait architect wasn’t content until he achieved a specific side-to-side fleeing action, and that required him to recalibrate body shape and rethink line-tie location.

On the water today, the HellraiZer produces prodigious surface explosions with a simple straight retrieve—fast, slow or stop-and-go. Riding low on the surface, the lure boasts exceptional hookup rates. A feathered tail treble hook hangs subsurface, providing bonus flash, color and natural flow; bass engulf and eat it just like a jerkbait.

Smallmouth crush the HellraiZer with no hesitation.

“Throw it over submerged grass, docks and riprap,” Thrift continues. “Largemouths, smallmouths, stripers, even bull redfish absolutely crush it. Fish haven’t really seen this action in a surface lure before. The HellraiZer is a blast to fish.”