Soft Plastic Jerk Baits

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Jim Crowley - Plastic Jerk BaitsMy left arm still hurts, and the black and blue mark on my left side near my ribs is still there. No, I have not been in a fight. I just returned from, Lake Huites, near Los Mochis, Mexico. In the next couple of months my column will feature stories and pictures from Lake Huites and Lake Huites Lodge. It was the trip of a life time and man did we catch fish. What an awesome experience! Soft plastic jerk baits, accounted for a lot of those fish. I learned some cool tricks associated with these lures, and that will be the focus for this month.

Numerous companies make their own version of these lures and I am sure they all work. The two I used were the Prowler Soft Shad, and the Prowler Slim Jim. The soft shad is a soft baitfish imitator that is a proximately 4 inches long with a hook slot in the belly and a split tail. The top is flat which helps with the gliding motion the lure exhibits on a twitch and stop retrieve. I was using bait casting equipment and my set up was as follows. I used a 6'6 medium heavy rod, 15 pound test line, and a Gamakatsu 3/0 EWG super line hook. This is an awesome hook for ANY soft plastic jerk bait. The extra wide gap hook acts perfectly as a keel for the bait, which helps in depth control, castability, and high hooking percentage.

Ok, now the standard retrieve is to cast the lure out, let it sink slightly, and work it as you would a standard jerk bait. Using a cadence of a jerk, pause, and jerk, jerk, pause. We know and understand that, so lets get to some tactics that became strike triggers for me. In the past, I have watched fish follow these lures and not strike. I usually start out with a pearl white Soft Shad. When fish would follow and not strike, there are several things that have worked for me. There are numerous dyes on the market. Dipping the tail in Chartreuse, and or taking a spray and spraying a red color up near the head of the lure to change its color has worked. No question about it. Red and or chartreuse can be a trigger in clear water. Pitching the lure to cover, and letting it sink deeper next to the cover. Dead sticking a soft jerk bait next to visible cover is a great trick. For example, on Lake Huites, we fished a lot of deep canyon walls with Mesquite trees and cactus that were in 30 feet of water. A fast shallow retrieve was rarely successful. However, by being patient, and feeding line to my sinking lure, I was able to let the lure fall on slack line down 15 to 20 feet. My strikes increase considerably from bass that were relating to the trees but harder to catch because they were suspended. These were post spawn fish, and this tactic will work on all post spawn fish.

Soft plastic jerk baits can be harder to fish when there is wind to contend with. I recently learned a great trick for that. Pinch on a small split shot 6 to 10 inches in front of the lure. The closer you attach the small split shot the more the lure will nose dive. However, move the split shot up the line, say 10 inches, and the soft shad will fall in a slow spiral. WHAM!!!!!!

As I mentioned earlier, the other lure I used was the Slim Jim. This lure is a "senko" type lure. It is tapered differently on both ends, loaded with salt and on a 3/0 EWG texas rigged with no weight, falls completely horizontal. That alone, often triggers a strike. Here are a couple more tricks for you. Again the dyes can make a big difference. When the lure is rigged texas style, the slimmer end shakes on the fall. Dye the tail a color of your choice and hang on. If its a sunny day and the fish are not reacting to a solid or bright color, in clear water, try the natural colors like, green pumpkin and or water melon. These are two great colors to have with you at all times. They work in clear water and if you become faced with a stained water situation, a simple addition of a dyed tail can adjust you and the lure to the new water condition. This can also save you money and space in your tackle storage, by not having so many different colors.

Here is another trick for you. These "senko" type baits also react differently depending on the hook style that you use. I mentioned that the EWG works great for a horizontal fall, however to make the Slim Jim walk, some what, away from you, or fade on a pause in your retrieve, use a 3/0 straight shake hook. With this hook, a pause in your retrieve allows the lure to go sightly backward. This is a great technique when fishing laydowns, grass lines, standing timber, and boat docks. These lures can also be an advantage to you when the wind kicks up. Since they are heavier, and sink faster, you can keep them lower in the water column. The heavier weight affords you more precision, and depth control.

Fishing Lake Huites, I was also faced with deep bluffs that the fish were relating to. Getting a 4 pound bass to bite 25 foot deep, when the fish are suspended is tough. Here is something that worked extremely well for all of us. Sticking a straight shank hook through the middle of the Slim Jim, is referred to as Wacky worming. The worm hangs off either side of the hook and looks stupid, I mean wacky. Hence the name! Anyway, pitching the wacky worm to the base of the bluff and stripping off line so the lure would fall straight down and stay close to the bluff generated numerous strikes. One evening it accounted for double hook ups between myself and the gentlemen I was fishing with 3 times in ten minutes. What a rush! A bluff is no more than a vertical change in the bottom, or simply stated, a vertical structure. At the right time that will work on numerous bodies of water through out the midwest.

Soft plastic jerk baits put fish in the boat. Like any other lure, slight modifications make them even more productive. What ever brand that you use, give some of these ideas a try. Until next month..............Audios Amigos!!!!!!!