When the water starts to chill, the jerkbait comes back into play. And like all baits, there are varying opinion on the best way to work them. Things like cadence, suspension vs sinking vs floating, sweep vs twitch, and length of pause are just a few factors that come to mind. But I feel there’s one big secret that most advanced jerkbait fishermen hold sacred, and that’s the ability to make that bait turn around and look the bass in the eyes. If you can do that, most of the time, bass just have to eat it. In my mind, this trick is more of an integral part of a great jerkbait fishermen’s arsenal than any color or style of bait, or the rod and reel they use. Here’s how it’s done.
The first step is mastering the effect that slack line has on the bait following a twitch. And when I say slack line, I mean giving the bait enough slack to walk backwards. This, of course, takes practice, and if you ask me, fishing clear water when you’re seeing a lot of bass follow your jerkbait is the ideal practice scenario.
First off, not all jerkbaits are created equal. Some dance, some roll, some dart, so you’re going to have to experiment to find the one that works best for this technique. That being said, I’ve found over years that most baits do have the ability to turn around, if you just provide them the opportunity to do so. If you think about it, most casual jerkbait fishermen get into a rythm of twitch, twitch, pause and never think about how they’re slight line tension after a twitch is actually hindering the natural turn-around motion of the bait. For example, most people twitch down or to the side, then keep the rod tip there during the pause. That unknowingly stops the 180-degree turn. To make the bait spin and look the bass in the eye, you have to twitch with normal line tension and the rod tip pointing down to about 5 o’clock, then following the twitch you must quickly point the rod tip back in the direction of the bait while extending your elbow out for bonus slack. That “point and extend” quickly feeds slack line to the bait and allows it to continue its rotation back in the direction of the bass. Trust me, it makes a big difference if you nail it. Study this technique in the colder months, and I’m certain you’ll change the minds of a few of those reluctant followers.