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How to Catch Bass on Jerkbaits

By Simon Goldsmith

You’re a Jerk

Winter can be a challenging time on the impoundment front. For the bass angler warm water patterns such as topwater and reaction patterns such as spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits have waned and been replaced by deeper or finesse shallow water approaches. 

On cool clearwater lakes jerkbaiting starts to come to fore, and at times can be the silver bullet that turns a frigid fishless winters day into a red-hot bass session.

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.

Why O Why

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. Sometimes 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.

Prime Time

If I could order a perfect day to go jerkbaiting this is how it would roll. A cold, heavily overcast 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) 

Tackle Happy

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.

When it comes to choosing a jerkbait for bass it’s hard to go past the legendary Daiwa Double Clutch and the new kid on the block, the Duo Realis Minnow 80SP. Here’s a breakdown on my fab four models and colours:

  1. Daiwa Double Clutch 60SP (ghost ayu, lemon sight special, purple suji shrimp)- a gun finesse option best fished with an ultra-light to light rod and worked with small sharp rod twitches. A great lure for close quarter work, shallow broken week, and structured cutbacks.
  2. Daiwa Double Clutch 75SP (lemon sight special, lazer ayu, ghost wakasagi)- a great all-rounder, the lure to reach for most occasions. Suited to shallow bays, flooded timber and mid-depth flats. Can be worked with a subtle twitch or high cadence rip and pause.
  3. Daiwa Double Clutch 95SP (lemon sight special, lazer ayu, ghost wakasagi)- Don’t let its 95mm length put you off bass will happily eat this bait. A great searching bait that can be cast along way thanks to Double Clutch’s Silent Gravity Oscillation System (S-GOS). Tie this one on next time your working a point or open bank.
  4. Duo Realis Minnow 80SP (neo pearl, ghost gill, funky gill)- the newest addition to my jerkbait line-up the Minnow 80SP is a go-to fishing shallow edges and flats. Casts incredibly despite its slim finesse profile and swims with a darting flashing approached when twitched and paused. Equally suited to a slow or fast retrieve.


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