Jerkbait Fishing 101

Growing up in the Northeast, a key to year-round success revolves around one bait, fished in a variety of situations. When the ice out happens and the fish are coming out of that winter “funk”, its hard to beat the action and results of a jerkbait. The difference between a good day on the water and a great day, revolves around your ability to adapt to the situation combined with the right arsenal of baits to throw.
Every day presents a new set of challenges, conditions and scenarios where one style bait is better than another. Situations like shallow water where a floating bait is best, or colder water where a suspending bait is ideal. Add to this, should you be fishing 6-8’ or going the next step and fishing 8-12’. Depending on all of these situations, and what the fish and bait are telling you, will help you narrow down your bait of choice.
Arguably the biggest key to success, is the anglers ability to match the hatch. Its for this exact reason that you can’t limit yourself to just one style bait. We’ll take a look at options shortly, to help give you the right diversity that is needed, but for now lets focus on techniques.

Typically in the early season, when the fish are coming out of the winter slump, cadence of the retrieve becomes just as important as the color, size and action of the bait. The cooler the water, the longer the pause you’ll want to have, as the fish are much more lethargic and less likely to commit to an aggressive presentation. As the water warms throughout the season, a more aggressive and fast pace retrieve will trigger reaction strikes and the jerkbait then becomes another option as a fish locator.

The versatility of the jerkbait is one of the best features. While you obviously aren’t going to throw it in heavy cover, with the right combination, you can fish it over submerged grass, around blowdowns, along bluffs and against rip rap. Anywhere you see a school of bait piling up, is the right time to throw the bait. Find the depth of bottom of the school and key in on that area with your bait selection. You’ll want the bait to be at the very bottom of the school, making it the easiest target for a hungry bass. Starting out in high probability areas, such as points, current breaks, and tight contour lines located next to cover, will help increase your chances of locating fish quicker.

One you’ve located your starting point, quickly analyze the situation, temps, bait, and depth. I personally like to have a variation of Lucky Craft Pointers and Strike King KVD baits at my disposal. When the fish are keyed in on small bait, its very difficult to beat the LC Pointer 90 and then begin to work up from there. When I want a bait with a little more shimmy and side to side action, to get the attention of the fish that aren’t committed to a subtle bait, I usually turn to the KVD J200 and 300, depending on the bait I’m trying to match. One of the great things with the KVD bait, is your ability to now fish deeper, to areas that you couldn’t fish before, with the new KVD J300D.

The weight transfer system in both baits will allow you to cast comfortably and accurately in any situation. On those windier days, don’t hesitate to switch over to spinning gear to get those longer casts when going into the wind. A soft tip casting rod like the Denali Lithium Jerkbait rod is ideal for fishing jerkbaits, when you want a whipping action to get proper action on the bait. Pair that together with your favorite casting real, in a 6:1 ratio and 12lb fluorocarbon, you’ll have no problem having a successful day of fishing.

Doug Cameron

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