Take your soft jerkbait fishing to the next level with these customizations and strategies / David A. Brown

Why Soft Jerkbaits are No Fluke

A soft jerkbait is an extremely versatile bait and we offer some great strategies and ways to customize them.

Typically, crediting success to a fluke implies a random, atypical occurrence. Not so with bass fishing. In fact, Zoom’s Super Fluke, a classic baitfish-imitating soft plastic, along with several similar offerings of various brands, account for a big chunk of profoundly non-random bass fishing success.

Be it the original Zoom Super Fluke, Strike King Caffeine Shad, Yamamoto D-Shad, YUM Breaking ShadV&M Shaky Shad or Z-Man Jerk ShadZ; these soft-plastic jerkbaits offer a broad range of strategic potential.

As a primary bait, a follow up for topwater misses or a response bait to schooling baitfish like blueback herring or spawning shad, soft jerkbaits catch a lot of bass. And would probably catch more if guys employed them more in various situations.

Casey Ashley has quite a reputation with soft jerkbaits now and shares his insights / David A. Brown

Productive strategies for soft jerkbaits

Bed Finders: Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Hackney likes to sight fish spawners by pitching a Texas-rigged Strike King Rage Craw to the ones he can see. In scenarios of lesser clarity, or deeper water, Hackney employs a location strategy that often leads him to key spawning areas.

“If I can’t see the fish, I’ll blind cast a Strike King Caffeine Shad,” Hackney said. “I can work this bait through shallow grass to find where those fish are bedding. Also, I can dead stick this bait in isolated spots where I think a bed might be.”

Elite pro Casey Ashley uses a similar strategy with an emphasis on playing to the fish’s season tendencies. Favoring a Zoom Fluke in pearl white or watermelon red, Ashley knows the value of a creeping presentation.

“I’ll work a fluke a little slower to keep it down in the water column, almost out of sight,” he said. “The water temperature is cooler and fish aren’t as active, so slower is better.”

On Guard: After the spawn, when warming days find clouds of fry huddling around laydowns, grass and any shelter they can find, soft jerk baits can prove awfully irritating to any male bass with “baby protection” topping his honey-do list. 

Elite Series pro Gerald Swindle will fit a traditional swim jig, or a bladed model, with a pearl Fluke and do his best to pester those fry guarders.

Take Two: You’re walking that Spook, maybe chugging the Pop-R and BLOOSH! A big-time bite from a fish with poor eye-to-mouth coordination. No worries; a fish that’s hot enough to take a topside swing will almost certainly stick around to see if he can nab the prey he thinks he wounded. Twitching a soft jerk bait through the point of last contact usually closes the deal.
School’s In: Why do bass school on bait pods? Because there’s a good chance of nabbing multiple meals in one bite. One of your options for leveraging this behavior — the double Fluke rig — gives you two shots at attracting interested parties, along with the distinct possibility of a two-fer. 

For optimal efficiency, build your double rig by running your line through the top eye of a swivel before tying to the top eye of a second swivel. Tying a 2- to 3-foot fluorocarbon leader to each swivel creates separation between your Flukes; and if you score a double-header, you won’t face the hook-pulling hazard of two fish tugging against a common connection point.

Grass Crashers: Whenever bass are chasing shad in the grass, FLW Tour pro T-Roy Broussard fares well by fishing a weightless Texas-rigged Caffeine Shad around the edges and in the gaps. He’ll start with a 4-inch bait, but he won’t hesitate to upsize if the situation warrants.

“If I feel like there are some bigger fish in the area, I’ll go to the 7-inch Caffeine Shad in the KVD Magic color,” Broussard said. “I’m not sure why the fish like this 7-inch bait, but they annihilate it.”

Broussard fishes his jumbo soft jerkbait on a 7/0 Trokar extra wide gap hook with a screw-in keeper.

Slow Ride: Toledo Bend guide Darold Gleason pulls several different baits behind his Carolina rig, but when the fish aren’t into a lizard or a big worm, he finds the subtlety of a Fluke highly effective on largemouth and spotted bass.

Make a soft jerkbait more appealing

The prominent torso and tapered tail gives the soft plastic jerk bait plenty of appeal right out of the bag, but savvy anglers often spiff up the presentation to tempt hesitant, often pressured fish.

  • Backside Appeal: Gleason’s a big fan of dipping his bait’s tails in chartreuse dye to mimic the bream look.

  • Bet on Buoyancy: When he needs his Caffeine Shad to remain higher in the water column, Broussard uses a hypodermic needle to inject air into the plastic. Maybe he’s presenting the bait to a shallow bedding area, or perhaps he just needs a slower fall through gaps in the grass. Whatever the case, air injections help.

  • Spot On: A white soft jerk bait resembles a shad’s general profile, but Broussard likes a little more authenticity. He achieves this by adding a black dot to both sides of his bait. Permanent black markers are best for this enhancement.

  • Better Bite: If the fish are slashing at your soft jerkbait and missing more often then connecting, add a stinger hook to the bend of your main hook and use a spacer ahead of the stinger to hold that extra hook close to the bait. Single or treble stingers can work; but with the latter, pinning one hook into the bait’s underside keeps the profile compact and minimizes snagging risks.

A little air will give a soft jerkbait a slower fall rate / David A. Brown

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