Monster Fish Love Jerkbaits
By Gregg Munck
When you’re searching for larger than average size fish, increase your odds by using the correct tools. Jerkbaits are an extremely versatile lure, and they have the attributes that interest many species of fish. Floating, suspending, and countdown models are available in many different styles, sizes, shapes, and colors. Then you have to decide if rattles are required. So how do you pick the right lure?
Quite a few aspects come into play when I'm choosing a lure. Certainly water temperatures are a consideration you should be aware of. In general, when water temperatures are 60 degrees and climbing, I will tie on a floating minnowbait. The fish are more aggressive and willing to chase after a lure with an erratic presentation. When you locate fish at a specific depth, where they are either holding on structure, or possibly suspended, a countdown model can be a good choice. Most countdown lures will sink approximately one foot per second.
When water temperatures range between the low 40's and the low 50's that is when I reach for my suspending lures. While fishing during colder water temperatures, it's important to make adjustments in your presentation. Fish become lethargic in the colder water so when you pause or stop a jerkbait right in their face, it often gives them the additional time to decide if they want your offering.
Sometimes a long pause will encourage a strike. Other times a sharp twitch or two will create a reaction strike. At times a stop and go retrieve can be effective. As you try different presentations, the fish will clue you in to what their preference is on a given day.
It is common for fish to follow a jerkbait all the way to the boat. Next time this situation occurs, try these tips. First and foremost, make sure you have a good pair of polarized sunglasses so you can spot the followers a good distance from the boat. Try changing the angle of your rod tip, which will affect your lures presentation. At times changing the color of your lure can be productive. On occasion, I abruptly kill my retrieve, followed by a sharp twitch of the rod tip, to create a strike. Short rod sweeps of approximately two to three feet can draw interest to your offering. And there is always the option of down sizing your lure to entice a follower into a hookup. Basically, you’re giving these veteran fish something new to look at that they haven't seen before. I can tell you, from my years of experience that monster walleyes, smallies, and largemouth bass love to gobble them up.
I always have a follow up lure rigged and ready, like a senko or fluke to throw in immediately after a strike. Here is a short list of jerkbait manufacturer's which have performed well for me while pursuing multi species trophy fish through the years and they are: Bomber, Smithwick, Rapala, Strike King, Luckycraft, Yo-Zuri, and Rebel.
Even today, with all the improvement's lure manufacturers have made in their production process, and quality control procedures, identical lures can vary in weight and balance right out of the box. Many suspending models will rise slowly in the water column. To check your lures, simply tie them on and toss them out if you're on a clear lake and observe how they react. You can also check the 1ures in a swimming pool, bathtub or a sink.
There are products available so you can add weight to your lures. Sticky weight, suspendots, and suspenstrips are easy to apply and remove if necessary. Various water temperatures will certainly affect a suspending lure's buoyancy. In colder water, your lure will require more weight to make it suspend properly.
I alter the majority of the lures I fish with to some extent. I believe subtle details make the difference between hooking a toad and going home empty handed.
Water clarity should also be addressed when you are choosing a stickbait. I require at least a couple feet of visibility when selecting a jerkbait for my lure of choice. I believe veteran fish become interested in your jerkbait because of the visual attraction. When you twitch the plug, the flash signals to a predator that there is wounded prey in the vicinity.
When fishing jerks in stained water, the color of the plug you choose becomes an issue. A fire tiger or clown pattern would make a good choice because of the bright chartreuse and orange, which helps the fish locate your offering. This is also a good time to upgrade the size of the lure you’re using. A larger jerkbait will give off more vibration especially when rattles are included as a feature.
Throughout the country, as well as in Arizona, Game and Fish departments have regular stocking schedules. If the body of water you plan to fish has been stocked with shad or rainbow trout, you can't go wrong when selecting a jerkbait with a dark back, and a light belly.
The Southwestern United States is known for its clear water lakes and reservoirs. When you're faced with cold front conditions, highly pressured lakes, and crystal clear reservoirs, there are ways to adapt. Using a jerkbait under these situations, the first thing I do is down size my lures. Next I choose the most natural colors available in shad and crawdad patterns. When fishing with the smaller baits, I breakout the spinning tackle spooled with fluorocarbon eight pound test line. In certain situations, I will drop down to six pound test line. The spinning tackle and lighter line help with casting issues, and also affords you the opportunity to work these smaller baits with a more natural looking presentation.
Balancing your rod and reel with the correct line and lure is extremely important in my opinion, especially when working jerkbaits for trophy fish. When you get all the right tools together, it makes the job of catching monster fish so much easier.
Gregg is a nationally known multi species trophy fisherman who has fished the Southwestern United States for over twenty years. Gregg has earned numerous awards, which include four Arizona state records to his credit. Gregg’s “Trophy Fishing Secrets” book in now available on his website.