Jump to content

    If you want access to members only forums on HSO, you will gain access only when you Sign-in or Sign-Up .

    This box will disappear once you are signed in as a member. ?

Article: The Jerkbait Two Step

Deitz Dittrich

Recommended Posts


After reading the title of this article, you can probably guess that the article that you are about to read is about the jerkbait. The two-step part of it has two separate meanings: One being the two separate styles of jerkbaits, hard and soft, the other the importance of rhythm in fishing. A jerkbait can be worked with a rhythm and still be erratic. I think this is very important. In this article, I plan to tell you everything you would ever want to know about fishing jerkbaits and probably a lot that you could care less about but can digest anyway. Jerkbaits can out produce many other styles and techniques in fishing, even during the toughest times. Fishing jerkbaits can be thought of as finesse fishing tactic as well as an aggressive fishing tactic with just a few minor changes. Jerkbaits can produce almost year round. I say "almost" because they are less effective during the dog days of summer and the dead of winter. During the dog days of summer, the water tends to fill with algae--jerkbaits are most effective if the water has a visibility of greater than 2 feet. In the dead of winter, fish are usually deeper than the jerkbait works effectively. In other words, you could still catch fish on the jerkbait, but there would be many other ways that would be more effective. Jerkbaits probably work best during the pre-spawn when water temperatures reach mid 50's and up.

When selecting a hard jerkbait you need to consider three things: speed,
action, and depth that you want to cover. It's important to always have a
plan to start with. You can change from that, but it's essential to have a
plan. Hard jerkbaits can be broken into two categories, those with a tight
wobble and those with a wide wobble. The tighter wobble is better for cooler
water. The tighter wobble bait usually runs deeper and is less erratic. This
suits cooler water perfectly. Another thing with the tighter wobble baits is
they can be slightly harder to tune and keep tuned, but don't let this scare
you. YOU CAN DO IT! The Rapala series and Smithwick Rogue are baits with a
tight wobble. Baits with a wide wobble are more erratic, generally run
shallower, and stay tuned better. These are much more effective in warm
water. Wide wobble baits that I use are the Bomber Long 'A' and the Storm
Thunderstick. Another thing to keep in mind is that any bait that is
suspending is usually less erratic than those that float because of the
weight added to the bait to get it to suspend.

Now that we have that down, we can talk about working these baits and the
equipment that I use to work them. I like a 6' baitcasting rod with a soft
tip. The soft tip is the most important part of the equipment being used.
The tip of the rod puts the action in the bait and is less fatiguing. If you
use a rod that is too stiff you will have to work much harder to get the
bait to do the things that you want. Not only that, but any bait that has
treble hooks are easiest to throw for the bass. The soft tip in the rod will
help you play the fish better so that won't happen. I like to use 10 lb test
line--the line is limp enough so that it doesn't hamper lure movement.
However, if you would like your lure to run shallower or deeper you can play
with line size. If you want your bait to run deeper, you can go to a thinner
line and get more depth without adding weight to the lure. A jerkbait is a
lure in which the rod imparts the action, not the reel. Because the reels
only job is to pick up the slack line, a high speed reel is best. I like to
use a 6.3:1. I tie directly to the o-ring with an improved clinch knot,
however there are times when I want a more erratic action and will use a
clip or loop knot. When working a jerkbait, I tend to use the
jerk-jerk-pause retrieve with the rod tip pointing down while trying to move
the lure 12-15 inches per pull. I will vary the lengths of the jerks and
pauses according to what I feel will work best that day. Once you jerk the
rod, point the rod tip directly back at the bait to create slack. This is
the most important step, read that again! Without slack in the line the bait
doesn't work its magic. Look at how your fish are hooked, you can learn a
lot from them. If you are hooking a lot of the fish with just the rear
treble, you may want to change your retrieve with a longer pause and shorter
jerks. Or switch all together to a sweep-pause retrieve. If you are catching
a lot of fish with all three hooks across the mouth, remember what you
did...IT WORKED! You may notice during a day that you were hooking fish
well, then you will catch 3 fish in a row with just the rear treble. Try to
figure out what changed: Maybe the wind switched slightly, or cloud cover.
Something has changed, and you need to adjust. Your ability to adjust will
determine how many fish you are going to catch. The final paragraph of this section related to hard jerkbaits contains some
hot tips to help you put more fish in the boat. First, change factory hooks
to premium hooks-- many times bass will slap at a bait to wound it. With
super sharp hooks, you will get many of these fish. Another hot tip that I
like to keep to myself but will reveal to my close friends is...SHHH don't
tell anybody this...During late prespawn, add suspend strips or lead tape to
the area just in front of the front treble so that the lure sits face down
in the water. Bass will see this as a feeding stance and will sometimes
devour this bait. Another fun tip is to work a floating jerkbait on a
Carolina rig in shallow water. You can work the bait much slower and keep it
in the strike zone longer. For a different look, try adding a treble hook
off a POP-R or other feather type hook to the rear of the jerkbait.

Probably most popular in the early 90's due to the onset of tubes and
creature plastics like spider grubs and brush hawgs, the soft plastic
jerkbait has lost a little bit of its original popularity, but they still
catch as many fish as they ever did. The soft plastic jerkbait is usually
worked with a 4/0 hook, the 4/0 is not needed for its size but more for its
weight. Where you put the eye of the hook will directly affect the lure's
action. The lower the eye is on the bait, the more it will rise with the
jerks. You can change hook size to get the fall that you are looking for. If
more weight is needed, add a barrel swivel 12-15' up the line. This will add
weight without hurting the action of the lure. You can also add a 1/32 oz
sliding worm weight to the front but it will put a totally different action
to the lure. Another thing I will do is add a finishing nail to the body of
the lure. Sometimes that is all that is needed. I tend to use a spinning rod combo with soft plastic baits, because of the
lack of weight. I have used a baitcaster, but I like the presentation of the
spinning outfit better. I like to skip soft plastic jerkbaits into cover,
they are a great cover bait because they are weedless if rigged correctly,
and with a few skips can get where no other bait except a tube can go. I use
10lb test again but have used as little as 6 lb and as much as 17 depending
on the structure or cover being fished.

If you read my last article, "My theory on bass and I'm sticking to it", you
will find the acronym K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid). There is no better
example of that than here. At the beginning of this article, I stated that
jerkbaits are a clear water technique, so use natural colors. My favorite is
probably dark green back with gold sides, or black back with silver sides. I
have other baits, but these are the two that produce best for me and that I
have confidence in.

Remember when fishing jerkbaits that you are fishing clear water. Keep this
in mind when approaching structure. Stay back far enough so that you don't
spook the fish, yet close enough that you can make an accurate cast to the
cover you're fishing. Also remember to keep a rhythm. I think fish can key
in better if you do the same movement repeatedly so that they can time their
attack. Just keep in mind that just because you are fishing with a rhythm
doesn't mean it can't still be erratic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sami-thanks for brining this up to the top... your a good man! Corey, thanks for the kind words!

For me, jerkbaits are probably my fave way to fish on bass opener and the few weeks that follow. I have had some of my best numbers days fishing a jerkbait catching over 80 fish in one day on a jerkbait. An awesome way to trigger bites... I have also, quite a few times caught 2 fish on one cast on a jerkbait.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Deitz...What stage are the bass in around opener usually? I fish on a lake up by leech lake for bass opener, so the bass will probably be in a different stage compared to here in the cities. In past years I haven't done to well on opener. Just looking for some tips. Shallow, Deep? where do you usually look.

I know there are a lot of variables that could affect where they might be, but I've really struggled and Im just lookin for something to try. Anybody else feel free to respond if you have any ideas too. Thanks for any info!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i ususally fish in Park Rapids over bass opener (Memorial Day weekend) i would guess that the bass are pre-spawn. in the last 4 years that i have been up around that time the water temps have been anywhere from the mid 40's to low 50's. the last couple of years i have caught smallies on beds all the way up to 4th of July weekend (probably a second spawn?)

for largies i am planning on working the bullrushes fairly heavy on bass opener. and if i don't get much luck there i will focus on transition areas near the bullrushes. deeper weedlines, humps etc. just off of bullrush points and pockets. i am planning on trying buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, suspending hard jerkbaits, jig-n-pigs, tubes, carolina rig worms.

as for the smallies i will again hit transition areas near known spawning areas like sunken islands with rocks, boulders and sand. i will try suspending jerkbaits, rattle traps, jig-n-pigs, tubes, plastic crayfish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bob- its going to depend most on when the ice goes out.. I have seen many years when the bass havn't event thought about spawning at opener and years when the bass are done. Post spawn fish are much harder to catch than pre-spawn.

If pre-spawn I tend to look at the points leading back to known spawning bays. Or even in the bays themselves, just out a little deeper(6-10 feet) More than likely you will find a few roamers shallow. I have also done well in areas where pads are just starting to come up.

Post spawn fish can be tricky.. find some new weed growth and slow down!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info. I'll be sure to check the water temp. and that should give me an idea what stage they might be in, and a place to start. Good call on slowing down. I think thats one of the reasons I wasn't catching as many, I was fishing to fast, although it can be good at times, but again depends on the stage their in. Will definatley try some of the tactics you guys listed, thanks again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.