Swimbaits or soft plastic baits can be great for bass fishing from spring until the early fall. Imitating small baitfish like shad and minnows is one of the best ways to catch a big fish. Using these lures is a time-consuming practice. Once you have the color of your lure right for the baitfish found in a body of water its a matter of casting and retrieving until you can get a fish to fully commit and swallow the lure. This can be your entire day on the water.
Jerkbait comes in as an alternative to swimbaits and can provide great results, especially in the spring. The lures are a hard plastic and typically feature 2 to 3 treble hooks. Now, if you are fishing in heavy and thick weeds you will want to avoid jerkbait. The treble hooks may get hung up and can be very hard to untangle from the weeds. However, in clearer areas the treble hooks give you a distinct advantage: you have a much better chance of catching a fish who is trailing your lure and nipping at it.
Due to the 6 to 9 points of the multi-treble hook setup you greatly increase your odds of catching a fish who is not ready to fully commit to attacking the bait. Jerkbait is fished with a stop and start motion. Quick pops and subtle wrist jerks give the lure motion which replicates a dying baitfish. This is a favorite prey for large predator fish.
Jerkbait are typically suspension lures. They are not what you want to run for getting deep down in heavy cover. But for hitting that 7-11 foot depth where baitfish congregate they are perfect. Many are filled with BBs which can add some noise and help get the attention of a fish.
Running a 10 pound braided line with a 10-12 pound fluorocarbon leader is a perfect setup for fishing a jerkbait lure. If you increase the strength of the leader by several pounds you can limit the depth the lure will suspend by several feet. Conversely, by lowering the test pound strength of the leader the lure will suspend a couple of feet deeper.
The best jerkbait lure will mimic the colors of the baitfish in the water you are fishing. A bright orange or yellow stripe on the bottom of the lure can help catch a wary bass’s eye. Next time you are packing up swimbaits for a day on the water, throw in a couple jerkbait lures—you may be happily surprised by the results.