Originally designed as a floater, the hard plastic stickbait variety of jerkbaits gained more versatility when savvy anglers and lure manufacturers converted it into a neutrally buoyant lure for winter fishing.
Available in a large selection of colors, sizes and diving distances, rip-style jerkbaits offer bass anglers more options than just the winter tactic for suspending bass that has made the lures so popular. Here’s a look at five of the best ways to fish these lures.
Pausing A Jerkbait For Winter Bass
Although suspending jerkbaits are supposedly neutrally buoyant right out of the box, some of the lures still rise slowly when sitting still. Water temperature usually dictates whether you want the lure to slowly rise, remain neutrally buoyant or sink slowly. During early or late winter, a slow-rising jerkbait triggers strikes from aggressive bass but the neutral-buoyant lure works better for sluggish bass in colder water. Adding additional adhesive weight or lead wire to a suspending jerkbait allows the lure to sink to bass suspending closer to the bottom. A retrieve consisting of a couple of twitches followed by a long pause draws the most bites from wintertime bass.
Ripping A Jerkbait For Smallmouth
Northern anglers catch smallmouth bass in the spring and fall ripping suspending or floating jerkbaits along rocky humps or scattered milfoil on shoals. They retrieve the baits by constantly jerking their rods and quickly reeling in slack line. The harder the wind blows, the harder those guys jerk their jerkbaits.
Deadsticking In Spawning Beds
A suspending jerkbait also comes in handy when spawning bass are protecting their nests. Throw the lure past the nesting bass, slowly reel it back to the bed and let it sit in front of that bass. The treble hooks on the jerkbait increase your hookup odds when the fish sucks in the bait and then tries to spit it out.
Pulling A Jerkbait On Top
When postspawn bass are protecting their fry, try slowly pulling a floating jerkbait across the surface next to the hatchlings. Strikes usually occur after the lure dips slightly under the water and rises back to the surface.
Waking A Jerkbait
Slowly waking a shallow-diver floating jerkbait across the surface is a popular topwater tactic on clear reservoirs during the postspawn. Walking the dog while fishing, once mastered, is one of the best ways to catch a fish. Retrieve the lure at a steady pace to make it wake the surface to trigger vicious strikes from bass suspended along main lake points and bluffs.
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