You’re a Jerk
Sure you can catch bass on them all year but they really come into their own when the water gets cold and clear and the bass become more reserved and less inclined to chase down faster moving and more aggressive offerings.
Sure jerkbaits aren’t always the best option, but I’ve had many days when they’ve been the only thing that I’ve been able to catch fish on.
So let’s take a quick look at the how, why and where of how I do my jerkbait thing, and my go-to collection of jerkbait favs.
When the water gets cold, bass like us, feel it, and just like us, are less inclined to move fast or far. As a result you need to take you lure to them and tease them with it to get them to bite. Weedbeds, points, timber, and breaklines are perfect locations where this tease me approach works.
Now How Do We Do This?
The approach is straight word. Identify the strike zone (where the fish are likely to be holding) cast you lure past it, then work it down to the strike zone then pause it. On shallow running lures all it can take it a couple of small twitches of the lure to get the lure to the desired depth, while on deep jerkbaits winding the lure down before you start ripping it is the way to go.
How you then work the lure really depends on the lure itself. Some only need a delicate twitch with the rod tip to dart and move about, while others need a fairly aggressive rip to get it darting and jerking all over the place.
The mood of the fish and how they want the lure worked is the other important determinate. So as always listen to what the fish want.
The pause is the next piece to the puzzle and in many instances is the key to success when jerkbaiting. Some times the pause only needs to be short while other times they have to be painfully long before the fish will take the bait. So once again listen to the fish and experiment until you find what works.
Spin tackle offers greater flexibility and less limitations than baitcasters. A fast tapered, light to medium rated rod, no longer than 6’8” is ideal. Any longer than this and you’ll have too much length to wield around when twitching and ripping your lure.
Line choice, PE, fluro or mono are all options. Personally I favour PE with an 8lb fluro leader for reduced stretch and more direct contact with lure, especially when using small lures and ones that require a delicate touch to get them working at their best.
The Lure of the Lure
I have a selection of favourites that vary in many ways, but they have all have two things in common. They all suspend, and they all standout in the water. Colours are bright like a neon light or chrome that flashes and gets the fish’s attention.
In most cases jerkbaits work because the fish sees the lure darting and dancing. And in clear water they can see the lure from quite a distance, so the brighter the lure is the easier it is for them to spot it, then eat it.
Clown and matt tiger are my two favourite colours, along with an old Rapala colour that was white with orange stripes.
Being brightly coloured also means that in many cases (more so on shallows than deeps) you can watch the lure during the retrieve, and also when it gets eaten.
Here’s my roll call of jerkbait starters for a bassing session and their strong points:
Jerkbait Favs photo, going clockwise from the top right lure.
- Jackall Squirrel 61- one of the most reliable jerkbaits to choose, this smallest of the Squirrels (61, 76, DD67, DD79, & Super DD79) is dynamite around shallow weeds. One of the standout finesse baits to tie on.
- Evergreen Super Sledge- rattle free and dives to around 6 feet, if you want subtlety try one of these.
- Megabass Live-X Margay Stepcat- darts and zags through the water with minimal effort, the Stepcat is hard to beat when you want a small lure that’s aggressive in the water.
- Jackall Squad Minnow 65- my favourite over the last couple of years, the Squad Minnow casts like a bullet, rips and darts all the time without blowing out on the retrieve, and in the mat tiger colour the bass line up to eat them.
- Imakatsu Riprizer 60- bought on a whim a few years ago, the Riprizer impressed on its first swim and has been a favourite finesse favourite ever since. This colour in particular with the silver insert stands out in the water like a neon sign.
- Jackall Colt Minnow 80SP- a big bait for the shallows, the Colt Minnow is the one to pick when it’s overcast and the big bass are right up in the shallows. Oh yeah it casts like a bullet as well.
- Lucky Craft Flash Minnow 80SP- fits the same bill as the Colt Minnow, albeit with a touch more finesse.
- Daiwa Double Clutch 75SP- was and still remains a great bass jerkbait before it became famous on the BREAM trail. Silent but deadly.
- Rapala X Rap- bigger profile bait, rips hard, always works and comes in some great colours. The HH in particular stands out in dark clear water.
- Rapala Husky Jerk- the old school favourite, bass still loves these, and I think they always will. Great for twitching in the one spot with minimal rod work.
If I could order a perfect day to go jerkbaiting this is how it would roll.
A cold, heavily overcast June day in southeast Queensland, air temperature 17 degrees, and gin clear water that’s between 15-20 degrees. Water level has recently risen and has left flooded bottle brushes on the edges, and is complemented by weed beds and water lilies in bays and on points and flats that feature clear pockets and channels scattered throughout. The hot-spots to hit include:
- The long unbroken weed and lily edges (use lures that cast a long way and parallel it along the edge)
- Weed pockets (use a twitch bait rather than a rip bait)
- Standing timber tight to the edge (use a quick diving lure that will get down to where the fish are)
- Flooded deep point (use a deep diving rip bait)