This time of year the water is clearing, the lakes are drawing down and the fish are scattering while chasing bait. They also have a tendency to suspend this time of year. All make for good jerkbait fishing.
Jerkbaits will catch bass year round but there are specific times where it becomes the best tool in the box. In the fall, the jerkbait is like many other tools in the tackle box. The bite can be a feast or a famine. The key is matching your tools to water clarity, temperature and mood of fish.
The key to having success with jerkbaits this time of year is variety. Don’t just pick up one jerkbait and say you’re going jerkbait fishing. Look at the conditions. Is the water dirty or clear? Are you going to be fishing in 5 feet of water or 15 feet? Are you going to be fishing in 50 degree water or 70 degree water? Are the fish rushing after bait or is there very little activity noticeable?
Then start experimenting with the jerkbaits in your box.
I’ve collected a wide variety, but this is from 20 years of jerkbait fishing. The box, believe it or not, has been thinned down quite a bit. I just got the new Falcon FTO Elite 804 tackle tray, and I love it for storing just my favorite jerkbaits. I’ve got a lot more in various other Plano boxes but this is my go to box right now.
This is my actual jerkbait box that I fish out of currently. I will pull the other boxes when going to various fisheries as well. And I’m looking forward to adding some new options in 2011. But for now this is what I carry:
1. Smithwick Rogues: The first jerkbaits I ever really started fishing seriously and I’ve had some incredible days with them on clear water fisheries like Beaver Lake, Bull Shoals and Table Rock Lake. I can tell you some funny stories about absolutely blasting partners who were throwing expensive baits and I wrecked the fish with these little $5 jerkbaits. They can be a bit cumbersome to throw in the wind, so I fish them on spinning tackle and 8-pound line a lot.
2. Lucky Craft Staysees: I keep several of these baits in my box and they have long been my staple for deeper suspended fish, especially around flooded timber. They will get down 8 to 9 feet quickly and stay there. They have a good action, not super erratic but a bit wider than some jerkbaits. The colors are great too, but I have several custom painted ones that wreck the fish.
3. Lucky Craft Pointer XD and Jackall Squad Minnow: Two small profile jerkbaits that run a bit deeper that I really like are the Lucky Craft Pointer and the Jackall Squad Minnow. When the bass are really keyed into bait that is 2 to 3 inches in length, these baits really shine. I like them in ultra clear to moderately stained water. You can work them a little faster deeper with good results. Both cast pretty well but I will go to spinning setups in high wind.
4. Damiki Slim Jack: We’re still testing this bait. It’s a high floater with a tight swimming action. It’s not really a wake bait but it does good mimicking fleeing bait fish in shallow water. We’re still experimenting with it as a jerkbait. It seems to have a tight action and can be fished fast.
5. Ima Flit: We started playing with this jerkbait a couple of years ago and it’s been a good producer in shallower water for us. It’s got very good colors, has a very erratic action and a high pitched rattle that was designed to mimic the sounds of baitfish in a school. It’s a fun bait that works well in shallow clear to stained conditions on a fast cadence.
6. SPRO McSticks: We really just started throwing this jerkbait about a year ago but it’s already a top producer because of various reasons. They have great hooks, they are easy to tweak to get to balance on a suspend, the weight transfer makes them easy to cast. They have good colors and most importantly they’ve caught some nice fish for us. These are good for that midrange depth at 4-6 feet. I also fish them a lot around laydowns and rip rap banks with good success.
7. Megabass Ito Vision 110: This bait has caught fire the last few years on the professional circuits and they command the steepest price of all the jerkbaits in the box. But they flat catch fish. They have a very erratic action. A good weight transfer. They come in great colors. They get down and suspend quickly. They have very intricate details and curved bodies that make them dance on a jerk-jerk pause cadence. So we keep a few on hand at all times.
8. Rapala Husky Jerk and New Clackin’ Minnow: We caught bass in the fall for years on the husky jerk. First place I ever got on the bite with that bait was at Ouachita fishing it around hydrilla weed lines in fairly shallow water less than 8 feet deep. It’s got a great action on a jerk and pause cadence. It’s fairly quiet and it’s another deadly combination on spinning tackle. The new Clackin Minnow casts well, looks great and has a unique sound. It really seems like it will be a great new addition to our jerkbait collection. Again is a good mid depth range bait with a little bulkier profile than most jerkbaits.
9. Lucky Craft 65 and 78 DD Pointers: These diminutive baits had a big punch this past spring for us. They caught bass on Kentucky Lake and Guntersville and some big crappies as a bonus. The 65 will get down 5-7 feet and suspend. The 78 will get down to 7-8 feet. We caught a pile of bass and crappie early around rocky points and near laydowns. The bait an erratic action, suspends well and is a smaller profile in deep water.
10. Xcalibur Xt3 Twitch Bait: Another small profile jerkbait that has been a good asset to our rip rap attack in the fall and early spring. The bait is small, has a little tighter action and quietly enters the strike zone to catch fish that might be leery of more obtuse jerkbaits.
What jerkbaits do you carry that I left out of my box? We always like to hear what other anglers believe in and throw a lot.