Most anglers reach for the jerkbait when the water gets cold, but they can be just as effective with warm water temperatures throughout the year. Pro anglers are discovering that there is never a bad time to throw a jerkbait as they perfectly imitate baitfish. There is never a situation when a bass turns down an easy meal.
When you think of fishing Florida during the winter and spring months you most likely envision big weights, punching vegetation and using soft plastics. This is no doubt the way to go many times, but as Kurt Dove and other FLW Tour anglers proved at the Harris Chain, a jerkbait can produce big fish in Florida. Dove was able to finish in 8th place and it was with the help of the Ima Flit 120, even though the water was in the mid-70s.
“Many anglers think of using jerkbaits only during the winter and pre-spawn, but they can be very good during the spawn, after it and throughout summer and fall. The technique is often overlooked and jerkbaits can truly be effective they year round,” says Dove.
In this Ima Pro Tip, Dove shares his approach, bait selection, and gear choices he used to catch big Florida bass. Hopefully, this will open some eyes and prove that the jerkbait can be an effective tool throughout the year.
The Shad Spawn
When shad are spawning, bass know that there is an easy meal waiting for them and a jerkbait is one of the best ways to catch bass keying on shad.
Typically, shad like to spawn on hard cover like rocks and riprap, but in places like Florida, that type of structure is far less common than vegetation. “Shad like to spawn on some type of hard object and they will also use hydrilla. It is a course, crispy grass and gives the shad what they need to spawn,” says Dove.
Dove capitalized on this in Florida by fishing parallel to the grass and then fishing open areas inside of the grass with the Flit 120.
Why the Flit?
There are many jerkbaits on the market, but Dove has found that the Flit family of jerkbaits acts differently than the rest of the jerkbaits on the market. “It is a phenomenal jerkbait because it has an action that has much more darting and slashing compared to other baits. Most of the jerkbaits just kind of flutter,” he says.
The unique action of the Flit allows it to be more versatile as anglers can adjust the action based on how they retrieve the lure. This opens it up to many scenarios from cold water when bass do not want an aggressive action to warmer water when moving quickly is the way to go.
“You can get it to make very wide side-to-side slashes with a hard rip of the rod. But, you can also slow it down or make it have shorter darts just by twitching your rod with less force. You have total control just by how you work it,” says Dove.
Typically, Dove will employ a standard retrieve of two twitches and a pause no matter what time of year he is using a jerkbait. How long he pauses varies based on the water temperature and he simply uses a longer pause the colder the water is. When throwing a jerkbait in the warmer water he will only pause briefly before starting the process over.
Modifications and Gear
Having the right jerkbait gear can make jerking and ripping all day much more enjoyable. Dove prefers a Powell 702, a seven-foot medium action rod that allows for good casts and is not too powerful that it will rip trebles from a fish when they strike. “Having the wrong equipment with jerkbait fishing can be frustrating because it can lead to lost fish. It is important to have the rod and sharp hooks to keep fish pinned,” he has learned.
Speaking of hooks, Dove likes to swap out the trebles on the Flit 120 for size 6 Hayabasu TBL930 trebles. “They have an NRB (Non-Reflective Black) fluorine coating and it helps to prevent losing fish when they are just slashing at the bait. Sometimes I will upsize to size 5 to get the bait to dive down just a little deeper,” he says. “That or I will just switch the front treble to the bigger size so it suspends nose down. The good thing is that it won’t affect the action at all.”
Fishing a jerkbait requires paying attention to color selection as it is a highly visible technique and bass see it much more than they hear or smell it.
Dove has a fairly simple approach to color selection and it is based on the water clarity. In this Florida example, he chose a solid pattern called Chartreuse Shad. “The water in Florida is somewhat clear, but it always has that tannic stain. A solid color shows up much better in that color water and the small chartreuse strip down the bait really help them to key in on it,” he adds.
Kurt Dove and others have proved that there is no wrong time and situation to throw a jerkbait. They are well known for their ability to catch fish when the water is cold, but fishing them throughout the year opens up a whole new world.