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Jerk Bait techniques


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Learning jerk baits is my summer project.

Once again, I hear conflicting stories: fish them fast, over the weed tops.

Slow down, way down...and you'll catch fish.

I am open to all suggestions. Also, any favorite colors?

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I rarely fish jerkbaits or crankbaits for that matter...mainly because I just plain suck at those.

But the standard logic is to increase the speed as the water temperature and the bass's metabolism rises.

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I wrote an article on jerkbaits a few years ago.. hope this helps...



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.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • If you fish the river it could. Ive done it and seen it done multple times. Hit a log that is.
    • could that happen???? yea probably, but unlikely.   i've been chopping or helped or watched cutting spearchucking holes since i've been about 8-10 years old, i'm 65 now, and never remotely seen it happen. ''closest i came was cut a spearhouse hole, plopped the house over it and ended up with a deadhead right smack in the middle of it. the top of the log about 4 ft below the ice!!!!!! 
    • That would be nice til you caught a log frozen in the ice and broke both your arms and your back.
    • Screw your little toy e-augers and chain saws!  😏  😆          
    • the wife and I took a little drive to Arkansas for one more ride. 
    • I get where your coming from Leech. There are some gray areas and loopholes and they know how to work them. These youtube people they want you to be angry, it all plays right into their revenue.   The thing with these youtubers is they unfortunately  have a mass following and they will tell all their fans to show up at the DNR offices, court house, call the office phones etc. And it just drives up their following, youtube views etc. and the result is just more revenue for the youtube channel and people get sucked right in (myself included). Like I said love him or hate him he's generating significant income by doing it and its like a bad car wreck you just cant look away.    In some cases the DNR getting involved the risk outweighs the reward if you get my drift. look at the crowds that came out for him over a misdemeanor jet ski fine in TN. It looks like its straight out of the movie "Time to kill" lol:   More:  
    • Another reply from the DNR Capt.  Sounds like their a bit afraid to dig in and get what the need to prosecute.   Mr. Beeeped-out  😉 I do want to thank you for your time in researching and sending us the information.  The second video in particular involves the CBoyz near Cormorant Village in Becker County.  If you watch many of their videos they are full of violations.  We have met with the County Attorney’s Office and we have been told that unless we can provide a date/time of the actual event they will decline to prosecute.  We have identified many of the players in these videos but only have a date/time of the video release and not the actual date and time.  We have also made contact with them and taken enforcement action in many of their videos.  They are not afraid to film our officers in action.  In addition the first video was a year or two old if I recall.  I will not disagree that when looking at the video there is areas of concern but unless we can observe the damage and be able to testify in court that the wetland was damaged we would likely not be successful in prosecution.  We will continue to monitor their activity and if observed causing damage we will be taking enforcement action.  We appreciate and share your concerns.  If you have any additional information please forward to us.  Capt. Seefeldt   These Jackwads!    
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