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A Little Extra Jerkbait Gravy
Written by Russ Bassdozer

Thanks to the readers who wrote to say how much they learned about jerkbaits from these two articles about Gary Dobyns and his jerkbait tactics:

  1. Mister Rippin' by Gary Dobyns with BassWestUSA Editor Jon Storm
  2. Ripbaits as Taught by Gary Dobyns Interview by Russ Bassdozer

The above two articles cover it well. In addition, for those who crave just a little extra jerkbait gravy, we ladle on a few more spoonfuls below.

Use a Small Profile Reel. Trying to jerk or rip while gripping a large reel all day can wear your wrist out. I find a small profile Shimano Chronarch MG 50 or a similar small profile, lightweight reel reduces wrist fatigue for me considerably.

Use a Blank-Through Handle. A blank-through reel seat on the rod handle means there's that much less handle diameter you have to hold in your grip. May sound like a minor detail now, but after a ten hour day of gripping and ripping, you'll appreciate a small diameter blank-through handle with that small profile reel.

Use a Pair of Fine Lines. I fish a pair of Loomis CBR845 rods for small to medium jerkbaits. I tend to use 10 lb test, occasionally 12 lb line, both fluoro and mono. With the relatively heavier deeper-diving jerkbaits, I tend to use Sugoi fluorocarbon which gets these baits just a bit deeper. Plus Sugoi fishes much stronger than mono. With the relatively lightweight, shallower baits, I tend to use monofilament. The mono is much easier to prevent or pick out a backlash using the lighter weight jerkbaits and since mono is more buoyant than fluoro, the mono rod also doubles as a lightweight popper rod. Also, both rods handle small to medium crankbaits too.

Jackall Squad Minnow and ima Flit are just recently available in North America.

Jerkbaits as Underwater Poppers? Speaking of topwater poppers, the action you give either a jerkbait or popper should not be dramatically different. With either, the strikes often come during the pause. Conceptually, it can help you to envision and fish poppers and jerkbaits as the same basic technique. It is easier to interpret the feedback fish give us on poppers. We can see them boil and miss - and modify our presentation (which usually means to slow it down and pause more). Use the feedback fish give you on how to work poppers as a guide to envision how to work jerkbaits. There are far more similarities and few differences between poppers and jerkbaits.

Rip, Jerk or Draw? Many of us tend to work poppers and jerkbaits too much and too quickly. It is human nature to want to hastily overwork them. At times, fish favor a fast frantic fleeing action, ripping. Usually, however, the fish will calm us down and slow us down to a more leisurely pace of jerking and pausing that is more to their liking.

So with either a popper or jerkbait, two retrieval types are: 1) high-paced ripping and pausing, or 2) a more sedate jerk or pop and pause.  A third category of jerkbait retrieve which works for me in cold water is the draw. Merely draw the rod tip along slowly in order to feel the bait faintly wiggle in the rod tip. Envision it much like you'd drag a Carolina Rig slowly a few feet across the bottom, then wait for a bite. There's really no jerk, rip or pop involved, just drawing the rod tip slowly for a few feet, then pausing with slack line for the bite. Rip, jerk or draw are three basic techniques.

Jerkbait colors include: Chartreuse shad (top and 3rd). Ghost Minnow (2nd and 4th). Pearl Ayu (bottom two).

Jerkbait Colors. Colors like Chartreuse Shad and Ghost Minnow are basic staples. Chartreuse Shad and Ghost Minnow colors were originally used in Japan, not North America. Lucky Craft was the first vendor to introduce such colors to North American anglers. Nowadays, most every vendor has their version of these two colors. Chartreuse Shad is opaque and works under a broad range of conditions. Ghost Minnow is translucent, ideal for clear water.

A couple other Lucky Craft colors I favor are Ghost Blue Shad (#237) which, like Ghost Minnow, this is a transparent color but with a faint blue back similar to shad at times. Pearl Ayu (#268) is another productive opaque color that works under most conditions. When jerked, the shiny,  highly reflective pearl sides emit a bright white flash.

A high percentage of my confidence and catches on Lucky Craft jerkbaits come on two other colors that are much less common in their product line - but highly effective for bass:

  • Misty Shad (#284), which is really available only in Pointers
  • Golden Shiner(#239) which is really available only in Bevy Shads

Top: Misty Shad color. Middle: SPRO Minnow 45. Bottom: Golden Shiner Bwevy Shad with feather treble.

Fish Bevy Shads with Feather Tails. I have experienced high catch rates using feather tails on Bevy Shads. I switch out the belly hook for the same size Mustad Triple Grip. I switch out the tail for one size smaller feather treble. To me (and presumably to the fish I catch) this feather duster seems to enhance the lifelike allure of the Bevy Shad.

Throw the SPRO Minnow. There are many great and legendary jerkbait brands and models on the market. Go with what works for you. As for me, I tend to use Lucky Craft Pointers, Pointer DDs, Bevy Shad 75s and Staysee 90s. These have been some of the most popular and productive choices in recent years. In 2007 and 2008, additional high quality jerkbaits from ima - the Flit 120 - and from Jackall - the Squad Minnow, Smash Minnow and Squirrels - are slowly but surely becoming available in North America. One other jerkbait I like to toss a lot is the SPRO Minnow 45. A relatively shallow swimmer, the SPRO Minnow casts well even in the wind. Best of all, when you pause it, it has a built-in boink it continues to make for a moment while it is motionless even after the angler-imparted action has stopped. That self-actuated boink just slays me - and it slays a lot of bass for me too.

Well now, I hope you have soaked up some jerkbait gravy here today. Go mop up some bass with it while the gravy's still hot.

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