The Overlooked Lure
I believe that the
hard-jerkbait is actually one of the hottest lures and one of the best
secret of B.A.S.S. pros around the world: ever wondered why this lure is
seldom mentioned on the bass magazines? Since 1993 Bassmaster magazine has
dedicated only two articles to the hard-jerkbaits: one on the suspending
version and the other about pros modifications on the floating version.
Normally, if a lure is hot, outdoors writers cannot resist to write a scoop
on it. Well, considering that even in Italy, in the high competitive ranks,
I rarely see a jerkbait tied on a bass rod, itís well worth the time to
gain skills and knowledge of the lure, at least to get one more edge on the
One of the big bass lures
Doug Hannon, the "Bass Professor", relies most often to catch
monster bass in clear spring Florida waters is the Rapala Original Floating
11 and 13 in Gold or Silver colors. He states that the Rapala, with its
small profile and slender shape, presents very few negative cues to the eyes
of a "smart" old big mouth and,a very interesting point, it is one
of the few minnow-type lures that swims perfectly horizontally, just like a
real fish does. If Hannon, with his great track record of more than 500 10+
pounders caught in the last 20 years, has some Rapalas in his tackle box, it
means this is a great lure. But Rapala accomplishs only one of the several
tasks a hard-jerkbait has to accomplish. In fact, if you go back to the
paragraph above, Hannon uses the Rapala mainly in clear waters.
I rely mostly on three
jerkbait brands and models, and I'll tell you why.
First is the Rapala Original
Floating 11 cm. (a little more than 4") S coloration (Silver/black
back) for sunny days and G (Gold/black back) for cloudy days or low light
conditions. Rapala is a light lure and I fish it mostly in calm water (a
smooth surface is better) and CLEAR water. It is a lure which has few
attracting qualities but high triggering qualities. It produces very few
vibrations or flash in the water . It is a discrete lure that works the best
in clear to moderately stained waters. Because of its very light weight, I
fish it on a 6'3" spinning outfit and 8 to 10 pound test clear mono.
The second lure I love to
fish is the Bomber model Long 14A. Again, this lure is about 4" long
but heavier than the Rapala. It works very well in moderate windy conditions
and dives a little deeper than the Rapala Original minnow. My favourite
color is Silver foil/orange belly which produces an huge amount of flash and
more often than not, triggers vicious reaction strikes even from the most
finicky bass. I use this color mostly on light sunny days but I've caught
bass on it even at dawn or dusk in very poor light conditions. Other good
colors I rely on for the Bomber Long-A are Silver flash/blue back (also for
sunny days) and chartruese flash/blue back/orange belly, excellent in
stained waters/cloudy days. I fish the Bombers with a 5'6" pistol grip
casting rod (with light tip but lots of backbone) and 12 lbs. clear test
The third lure you'll find
in my jerkbait box is the Rattlin' Rogue 4"1/2. This lure dives up to
4'. I fish this lure in poor light conditions (e.g.: dark water/cloudy day)
because of its bigger size and Ė very important - built-in loud rattlers.
As Jim Porter has written in one of his article about rattling crankbaits:
"I haven't seen yet a fish that rattles." I agree with him on his
statement but bass seems to love those rattling things and really blast it!
As for the Rogue's colors, I got one silver/black back and a Gold one, for
the identical reasons that I fish the Rapalas and Bombers (light
conditions/water clarity.) I fish the Rogues on the same outfit I fish the
Now that I've told to you
about my favourite jerkbaits, let's look at my best techniques.
In clear, cold water and
with suspicious fish I try to leave my jerkbait in a given spot the longest
time I can and move it with short twitches of the rod tip, this usually
aggravates the fish to strike.
When I don't know how the
fish is positioned, I "run and gun" casting my lure at the most
obvious and unobvious obstacles I can. For this application I don't use any
one of the lures I've mentioned before but a big Rapala Husky 13. I've
caught tons of fish in the past retrieving them quickly with the rod tip
pointed at it, just like a crankbait.
In every other condition, I
usually cast the jerkbait parallel to the obstacle or shallow structure and
retrieve it with sharp jerks of the rod. Itís very important changing the
angle of your cast at the same obstacle. Normally I make a 6" jerk with
the rod tip low on the water but sometimes you need to get a long jerk to
make fish strike your jerkbait.
I know a guy who fishes hard
jerkbaits with very long, sharp and quick jerks and seems he to catch fish
in almost every condition with such tactics. I've tried this tactic from
time to time, using the same tackle and lures the fellow angler uses but
Iíve caught only few fish. He's one of the gifted fishermen that, for no
know reason, seem to catch a ton of fish in every condition - except when
they start a tournament.
Few tips on how I modify my
hard jerkbaits before tying them to my line.
First thing to do when you
open the package of whatever lure you find in the tackle shop is changing
the treble hooks with bigger ones and ALWAYS keep 'em sharp. Before casting
a lure, I always check with my thumb nail how sharp is the hook. No matter
if it is a jig, a spinnerbait or a jerkbait, if the hook is not sharp
enough, I'll sharp it with the sharpening stone I always keep in my modular
tackle bag. The reason for changing the treble hooks is because I try to
overcome the poor hooksetting these lures normally have. Bigger and stouter
hooks surely help you to land a few more fish and in a tournament situation
one fish landed or lost often means the difference between getting a check
or not. Some lures manufacturers affirm that putting a bigger set of treble
hooks on their lures will alter their balance and swim but I havenít still
meet this problem. Take care to put treble hooks not too big otherwise
youíll often find them tangled together.
I often replace the split rings with bigger ones, according to the treble hooks size and put one on the front-eye of the lures like the Rapala Floating model that comes without the ring. It adds a hell of lot more action to the jerkbait! If I want to add weight to a floating jerkbait to get more castability, get to a deeper depth and a slow the rise (more suspending), I usually wrap the treble hooks with some lead wire. It works like magic on finicky bass! Consider that most of the hits on your jerkbait will come when you make a pause between a jerk and another and youíll realize how important the speed of your lure is when it rise to the surface. Sometimes the bass hit with lot of delicacy and you hardly feel the bite, just like the tick-tick on a plastic worm, other times the mighty little green fish will almost pull the rod out of your hands, talking about vicious strikes! Well, no more modifications are required with the hard-jerkbait. All you need to do is train your biceps with a jerk-pause, jerk-jerk-pause or similar retrieve. At the end of the day, I know this may sound hard to believe, but even fishing a jerkbait with sharp jerks, you'll find your arm quite sore, especially if big bass are on the mood to blast the minnow-shaped lures.
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