Jerkbaits for Winter Bass
What is the key to success when fishing a jerkbait in the winter? The answer is learning how to get the right action, the right vibration and a flash that will capture a bass attention. Many anglers guard their secrets for winter fishing while others enjoy sharing some more productive cold-water jerkbait tips. Over the years enough information about these cold water baits has been collected to make cold water fishing as productive for big bass as fishing during spring and fall. The quantity of fish may not result from winter fishing, but the quality of the bass caught is worth the experience.
For successful late fall and winter bass fishing, many anglers rely solely on a jerkbait. By varying the speed of the jerk and pause cadence, lethargic bass will respond when faster baits are ignored. The technique of jerking once, then twice then three times while varying the length of the pause can be productive. At times as the water is colder, a longer -pause will be needed. Start with your rod tip pointed at the lure and sharply jerk with your wrist, returning the rod back to where it is pointing at the bait. This makes slack in the line that will result in the bait darting from side to side. Light line is best for getting the lure deep, but these baits when presented correctly will call deep bass up to the bait. The flash and roll of quality baits enhance the action.
Many manufactures produce amazing jerkbaits, all with unique innovations, such as Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue signature sound, and all have impressive designs and spectrums of colors. Whichever bait you chose, the secret to a successful jerkbait presentation is not as much about the color or size of the lure, but it is the action that makes all of the difference. When retrieving a jerkbait in cold water correctly, the bait will rapidly accelerate forward or “jerk” and then come to an abrupt stop, suspending in the water column like a cold lethargic and startled minnow trying to flee from a predator. This will trigger and instinctive reaction to feed in the bass. When you begin using a jerkbait you need to understand that a proper presentation is not a relaxed, inattentive method of fishing. You must fish the bait constantly even while paused and controlling the slack.
This is not difficult but can be tiring on the wrist. If you are not familiar with fishing a jerkbait it is a good idea to learn to fish them when fishing conditions are perfect. Try using it first during the pre-spawn when water temperature is from 50 – 54 degrees. Usually in March or April, when fish are shallow and feeding and casting a jerkbait until you get a good feel for the action of the lure, and you will catch bass while practicing. Once you have established your confidence, you can then add a jerkbait to your all season tackle box, and you will catch more bass during the cold water winter months.
Bass react to color more than most fish and are believed to have amazing eye sight. The color of the water will determine the colors the bass can see best and the ones they will react to with a strike. In stained, muddy, clouded water successful anglers fish with chartreuse or white or a mix of the two colors. If the water is clear, natural colors of greens, browns, black and blues work well. It is best to experiment with color in a new lake and learn the forage base before you get there.
The latest innovative presentation is knows as a nose up half moon. Start with 12 lb fluorocarbon Line, a 7′ Medium Heavy rod and a baitcasting Reel and a quality jerkbait. The trick is to get the bait to fall tail first instead of jerking the lure down suspending head down. Anglers accomplish this presentation by replacing all three hooks with No. 6 Treble Hook to provide extra weight. Anglers are actually able to get the bait to sit level and tilt back and slightly and sink tail down. This action triggers fish to bite as the bait is doing something different. As the bait is falling tail down barley twitch the rod, with the nose sticking straight up, and it’s going to go back to the point where it was before it started sinking. The traditional way these baits are fished causes you to jerk it out of the strike zone. The presentation called a “Half Moon” starts with a cast ahead of the boat, then jerk the bait down to the depth desired while staying on the trolling motor. You will want the bait to come back in a half moon on slack line jerks as you barley twitching the bait giving it a subtle presentation of a dying bait fish.
The Smithwick Perfect 10 Rogue uses proven frame with new semi-transparent colors for a jerkbait that excels in clear water and on pressured fish. The newest Rogue goes beyond 10 feet in an instant, thanks to its unique lip design. With every twitch, the lure dives farther and more erratically than other baits. A new construction material allows for maximum flash at a distance while remaining extremely realistic up close. The Perfect 10 Rogue is a very effective.
As the water gets colder many anglers swear by pulling a deep diving jerk-bait instead of ripping the bait like many do with the smaller-billed jerk-baits. By pulling the bait eight to twelve inches then pausing allowing the bait motionless with an occasional twitch anglers increase their catch. The purpose of this presentation is to make the bait resemble a cold and dying bait fish. The short steady pull and pause gives the bait realistic swimming action. The longer bills design gets the bait deeper and quicker, a gives a much better side-to-side action. This action along with superb suspension remaining motionless is the ticket.
Bass anglers in mid-west America have a secret jerkbait modification they refer to as the “Holy Rogue.” The anglers drill two or three holes into the plastic body of a Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue around the front hook-holder for a weighted jerkbait which is used to trigger strikes from bass in clear water. The lure fills up with water and falls to the bottom with an intriguing action. Cast and allow a second to fill up and sink, then count it down 15 to 20 feet, and rip it back up. Then stop the retrieve, allowing it to fall again, and wait for the strike on the fall.
Just like a crankbait, a jerkbait can sometimes require a little tuning when they travel to the right or the left uncontrollably. To correct this use needle-nose pliers and pinch the line tie on the nose of the bait. Slightly roll the line tie in the opposite direction of the way the bait is swimming. This adjustment must be made with small increments so not to over correct the travel of the bait. With each “tweak” cast and retrieve the bait. If the bait continues to swim incorrectly, repeat the process until the bait swims true.
The Perfect 10 along with the original floating as well as the suspending Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue has caught many cold water bass over the years. The sound made by the rattles is credited for the lures uncanny ability to call bass from the deep. The original floaters were made into suspending baits by anglers adding weight to the lures, which soon lead to the suspending models being produced. The suspending models have been popular for a while but The Smithwick’s were not first suspending jerkbaits on the market, however they greatly helped the jerkbait technique become so popular. If you haven’t thrown one of these classic baits in cold water you could be missing a trophy catch