My number one "go to" lure for a 5lb+ spot (or largemouth, if you are into Slime Balls) starting in November and running through the end of April is undoubtedly a jerkbait. It is the most versatile hard bodied lure in your tackle box and I'm gonna share my favorite area's and techniques I use when fishing this magic lure.
Choosing a Jerkbait:
First off, there are tons and tons of jerkbaits on the market. I use a suspending jerkbait 90% of the time. If I had to chose a pair of jerkbaits to fish year round I'd chose Lucky Craft Pointer's and Spro Mcstick's. Both are available in the best of colors and both have a sliding rattle/weight chamber that offer optimum casting.
Now that you know what jerkbaits I use, my number one question from clients regarding jerkbait fishing is "How do I fish a Jerkbait, and what is a good Jerkbait area?" There is no wrong way to fish one, but I'll say from Nov-March the slower you fish it, the better. Slow, easy twitches and long 5+ second pauses almost always work best. I've had great days fishing a jerkbait SUPER slow and every fish hit the bait on the pause (or while it's suspending) just before I start to make my next twitch. In other words I've waited 6, maybe even 8 seconds in between twitch's and then the fish gets it. It's amazing how long a bait can sit still and then draw a very aggressive strike.
I've seen the same deal when sonar sight fishing with a drop shot or spoon. Fish come up to it and if you hold it still sometimes for 10 or more seconds they eat it. But if you move it any they swim off. Now that is not to say you can't catch fish jerking the snot out of a jerkbait because you can, and I do from time to time when fish are really active, but the best results are normally on a slow retrieve using long pauses.
If you were on a trip with me fishing a jerkbait this would be how I'd fish it almost every day. Twitch the jerkbait on a semi-slack line, with sharp, short jerks. This gives the bait more erratic side to side action. The more slack you throw back at the bait when you twitch it, the more it moves and you can basically get the "walk the dog action" like a Spook. Rod and line both play a major roll in getting optimum action from your bait as well. (See bottom of page for preferred gear) If you get the cadence down the bait will do all the work for you.
Where to use it:
As far as jerkbait water and where to target.. Well if there was a perfect situation I'd say a steep, shady, windy bank on the main lake. Any areas with vertical cover like boat docks or standing timber are also good jerkbait areas. I like to focus on channel or bluff banks at or near the mouth of major main lake creeks throughout the fall and winter months.
During the spring, look for the last channel or bluff bank in a major creek, sometimes you'll find the mother load of fish holding on these areas. During spring another factor to keep in mind is weather conditions. Weather can play a huge role in a good jerkbait bite. On Carters Lake I prefer an overcast day in spring, if it's high pressure, bluebird condition, I want wind and shade. If there is little to no wind and high pressure, any bite will be tough, especially the jerkbait. Spots spend a lot of time suspended around bait and vertical cover, the brighter the sun, the deeper they suspend (outside of herring lakes). So the shade and wind break the light penetration and move the fish higher in the water column.
The fact is, the jerkbait may be the best 5lb+ fish producer in your tackle box and it isn't hard to fish at all. Throw it out, reel it down a few turns, twitch your rod tip, wait a few seconds and twitch again.... Nothing to it.
My preferred gear for a jerkbait:
Rod: 6'8-7'0 ft St Croix Medium Lite Avid Casting Rod
Reel: High Speed 6.3.1 or 7.0 casting reel
Line: 10-12lb Fluorocarbon Line, a smooth/soft Fluoro works best. I use 10lb Sunline Shooter when jerkbait fishing.