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Soft Jerk Bait Fishing
by Lake Fork Guide Jim Reaneau

This article will cover the use of soft jerk baits. There are many styles of jerk baits. The most popular is probably the wacky worm.

A wacky worm is a regular worm with a hook run through the middle. Some people prefer to use a regular 2/0 hook with the point protruding through the middle of the worm. I prefer to use a 3/0 hook which has a wire weed guard. This will enable you to fish the bait through all kinds of cover.

In this style of fishing you do not use any type of weight. After you have rigged the worm with the hook in the middle your first look at the bait will cause you to wonder why a bass would hit that . The primary reason that the bass strike this type of lure is because this is a do nothing style fishing. You will normally use this bait when the lake has had a lot of fishing pressure or right after a cold front. I fish this on fifteen pound clear Trilene Big Game. There are a lot of people who will use a spinning rod because this bait is so hard throw. Sometimes after major cold fronts I switch to spinning gear also. When I do this I normally use eight or ten pound line.

Just about any type of worm can be used wacky style. I use the Zoom Trick Worm. The biggest problem in choosing a worm for this type of fishing is durability. The Zoom Trick Worm holds up good with a 3/0 weeless wireguard hook. Some worms are way to soft and will tear up on the cast.

Colors may very in different lakes. I prefer watermelon, it is a good all-around color for Lake Fork in Texas. In the spring I sometimes use a bubble gum color. The spring is a good time to use this style fishing when the fish are more finicky from cold fronts and fishing pressure. I fish the bait along weed lines, stumps and trees, and the bank. I throw the bait out and let it sink and give it a few twitches and let it sink again. Sometimes I let the bait go to the bottom and let it lay there for a few seconds and start twitching again. When the fish get active sometimes just a slow constant pause and jerk will work. I keep a wacky worm rigged at all times during the spring . When the fish have moved into the coves and a major cold front moves through, the fish have a tendency to become lethargic. That is when the wacky worm is at its best.

The Bass Assassin or Zoom Fluke is another style of soft jerk bait. This shad-shaped style of bait has gained popularity over the last three years on Lake Fork. Because of the short stubby body it is very easy to throw with a bait casting reel and light line. This bait can be thrown on very windy days with little or no problem. This bait can also be fished almost anywhere. I use a 3/0 wide gap hook and Texas rig the bait. The bait is manufactured with a hollow trough built into the bottom of the bait so that it can be fished weedless. Snce the hollow belly allows the hook to be seated all the way through the bait, this will help get a better hook set.

During the spring when we get the green algae (slime grass) in the backs of most of the coves, this bait will come through it very easily. I normally fish this bait on fifteen pound line. I do not use a weight when fishing this bait. It is heavy enough to sink on its own. If you twitch this bait beside the boat and watch the erratic action you will understand why the fish hit it. You want to fish this bait in a manner that it looks like an injured bait fish. Normally, I use a twitch and pause retrieve. Sometimes after cold fronts the fish will move back and lock-up tight on stumps or trees and suspend. I cast the bait past the tree or stump and retrieve the bait up to the stump and stop the retrieve and let the bait fall. Because of the slow fall normally, the fish will react and strike. You can fish this bait all the way out to 10 ft. of water with no problem. The choice of color is your preference, but the ones already listed above will suffice.

The floating worm is another soft jerk bait. I like this bait, but it is very hard to throw because of its light weight. Normally you will have to use a spinning rod with eight or ten pound line. I rig this bait Texas rig with a 1/0 or 2/0 hook.

When the fish have started spawning and there are a lot of fish roaming in the coves that or either bedding or protecting fry I take a bubble gum floating worm and throw it along logs or stumps and twitch it several times and let it fall. The light wire hook that I use will cause the bait to sink very slowly. Normally, when I use this bait the fish are very active and the bubble gum color is only for sight. I fish this bait pretty fast on a stop and go retrieve.
I know that I preach heavy line most of the time but there are times when the eight or ten pound line has to be used. Remember that you have to get a bite before you can catch a fish. You will lose a lot of fish in the timber but that is just part of the floating worm.

I have covered only a few of the soft jerk baits that are available on the market. But these three or four are the ones that I normally use on Lake Fork.

One other thing. Wthat will happen when using these baits is that your line will twist whether you're using spinning gear are bait casting gear. So during the day you will have to cut the bait off and drag your line behind the boat to remove the twist. What I normally do is take one rod and used it primarily for any of these baits and change the line every two or three days.

When you fish these baits and you feel a strike or see your line swim off, first hesitate your hook set to allow the fish to suck the bait in. In the spring the fish will sometimes grab hold of the end of the baits and carry them away from their small fry or their bedding areas. You can use these baits any time during the year not just in the spring.

If there is a subject that you would like for me to cover in one of my articles email or write me a letter or even call. I will do my best to cover the subject. If you would like more instructions on these type of baits I have some guide trip dates still open so give me a call, good fishing until next time.

Lake Fork Guide Jim Reaneau

Author Information.

Jim has the experience to help you have a marvelous fishing trip having been a full time guide for eight years. Uncle Larry Bolton taught Jim how to fish as a young boy and got him interested in bass fishing. Jim has been fishing for bass primarily since the age of 13. He even hunted on the land before Lake Fork was built.

He is no stranger to fishing in tournaments either. Jim started fishing tournaments in 1973 on Lake Livingston -- winning a couple and placing in several. While in the Houston area, Jim was a member of the Humble bass club.

Jim & his wife, Sherry, have been married for 28 years. Sherry is from this area. Eight years ago a move from Houston brought them to the Lake Fork area permanently. As a couple, being associated with the area for the past 28 years, it was coming home.

Give Jim a call: Toll Free 1-888-918-5088 or 903 383-3320
Visit Jim's web site at
Email Jim at

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