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How to Have Jerkbaiting Success All Year Round

Posted by 
June 17, 2014
Published in News & Tips > Fishing > Bass
2768   Comment
Angler holds up catch
In the right conditions, jerkbaiting can help you land big bass.

Most anglers take their jerkbaits out of the boat once the water temps get around 50 to 58 degrees. This tradition has gained a lot of notoriety over the past 10 years. No question that the jerkbait is a standout in the coldest times of the year, but in the right conditions, these baits catch quality bass all year long.

The No. 1 element needed to catch big bass on a jerkbait is good water clarity. Due to the bait’s limited water displacement, slender profile and random action, bass ideally need to see the bait to track it and eat it. Now, I have caught some magnum spotted bass jerkbaiting in dirty water, but largemouth and smallmouth need the clearer water to effectively jerkbait year round. In the Pacific Northwest, where I cut my teeth in bass fishing, I learned that the jerkbait is outstanding year round with the right conditions. 

Here are some of the most successful year-round jerkbait patterns I’ve seen around the country.

Surface Dead-Sticking on Calm Days

At 17 years old, I won a summertime B.A.S.S. Nation tournament in Washington state throwing a number 9 floating wooden jerkbait over a grassy drop off in 10 to 16 feet of water. Three- to four-pound northern strain largemouth would come out of the depths to snatch my motionless minnow bait off the surface. I could see grass 10 feet down, so I knew the bass could see my bait on the surface from the grass. The glass-calm conditions set up well for the “beeping” technique (allowing the bait to sit on the surface and switching the line slightly so the lure makes small rings and ripples while hardly moving). 

About 10 years ago, I discovered the Lucky Craft Pointer 100SSR (floating bait) for this technique (better action, casting and colors), and it’s worked wonders especially out West, in the North and in highland reservoirs. In lowland reservoirs, this pattern can work in clear sections of the lake like around dams, marinas or bluff walls. 

Sinking a Jerkbait in High Wind

Some people will not like me sharing this, but this is a deadly technique any time you have good clarity and a lot of wind. This well-kept secret has caught hundreds of 25-pound bags out West on lakes like Clear Lake. Take a Lucky Craft Staysee 90v3 (sinking version) or slightly weigh down (1/32 oz. or so) the front hook of a Flash Pointer 115 or original Pointer 100DD, and fish it around steep rocks, docks and drop offs in the nastiest wind you can find, and hold on. Find clusters of bait on these spots, and hold on. The falling bait looks like a wounded shad, and the biggest bass in the school will go after it. 

Suspended Bass During the Dog Days of Summer

When the bass are surface schooling over deep water during the summer months (like they do on most lowland reservoirs), the small Flash Pointer 100SP is deadly. The faster and more erratic the retrieve, the better. The smaller size seems to work better on the summer schools for some reason – not sure why that is. I’ve done this successfully on Kentucky Lake to Clear Lake to Sam Rayburn. 

Overall, jerkbaiting is a great year-round technique, and bass never see it from April to October.

Good luck and God bless.

– James Smiley |

Tagged under Read 2768 times Last modified on September 22, 2017
James Smiley

Home: Frisco, Texas
(wife) Lisa, (son) Zeke
Bass fishing, watching football, especially college football
2010 Nitro Z-9

Angling Stuff

Favorite Technique: Being versatile
Fishing Strength:
Growing up on the West Coast, my strength is being versatile
Favorite Lake:
Columbia River, Oregon
Favorite Species
Largemouth Bass
Likes to Fish:
Lake Lewisville

Career Highlights

Fishing 21 Years
21 1st Place tournament finishes
Been licensed fishing guide for 5 years in Washington and California
5 Angler Of The Year titles in local clubs and team trials
21 tournament wins on various levels including B.A.S.S. club events, local team events and Bassmaster Federation events
2011 Winner Bassmaster Western Divisional for the state of California
2011 3rd place at the Lake Mead WON BASS Pro Am
2011 3rd place at the WON BASS Pro-Am Championship
2011 WON BASS Tri-States Championship Qualifier
2011 Bassmaster Western Divisional Qualifier - Lake Navajo, NM
2011-2012 3rd place Bassmaster Federation State Championship
2010-2011 1st place Bassmaster Federation State Championship
2010 Winner Bassmaster Western Divisional for the state of California
2009-2010 season, Qualified through Bassmaster Federation ranks to Bassmaster National Championship on the Red River
2009 SOCB Angler Of The Year
Served 4 years as B.A.S.S. Federation Club President of South Orange County

Latest from James Smiley


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