Jerkbaits, without question would definitely fall in the "Top-10" category of all artificial baits used by Tournament Anglers in today’s bass fishing mostly because these types of baits have proven themselves over and over to not only catch bass in numbers, but they catch quality bass as well. One of the primary reasons that these baits are used by so many anglers is because Jerkbaits are considered to be one of the more versatile types of baits on today's market and can literally be fished just about anywhere at any time. There are many different techniques and presentations you can use when fishing with a Jerkbait, I’ll explain a few of the more popular presentations in hopes to help you increase your success rate when it comes to catching bass.
First of all, I’ll cover some of the more popular techniques for "Top Water Fishing" while using these Jerkbaits. Let’s say that you pull up into a area where you would find thick floating vegetation in about 1 to 6’ depth of water, and this vegetation is covering the surface with very little exposed open water pockets, a "Soft-Jerkbait" would be the preferred Jerkbait to use in a situation like this simply because of the "Weedless Rigging" it allows you to use to keep from getting caught on the vegetation. In a area such as this, you would rig the "Soft-Jerkbait" without any added weight at all and rig it as a "Texas-Rig" using a wide gap hook. Now you’re ready for business!..... Cast the bait into the midst of the vegetation and make short twitches periodically letting the bait lay still on top of the vegetation, then keep repeating this technique all the way back to the boat. If you don’t have any vegetation on your body of water, then cast the bait over submerged structure areas.
Now, let’s say that you are into an area that has scattered vegetation with pockets of open water at the same depth, you can use either a Soft or a Hard Jerkbait!, but keep in mind that a "Hard-Jerkbait" has exposed hooks already fastened to the bait (which means it is easy for the bait to get caught-up on this vegetation). With either bait, cast it into these open pockets of water, make a couple of small sharp twitches, then let it lay still for a moment. Usually after the bait lays still, usually the first twitch after this still period is mostly the time when a bass will strike!, so be ready. Or in this same area (using a Soft-Jerkbait), add a little weight to the bait to where the bait will slowly drop to the bottom. Again, let it lay there for a moment, then make a couple of small sharp twitches lifting the bait back up to the surface and let it drop again. You will find that this technique can be very rewarding if you give it a try. This technique will work around structure, rip-rap, docks, fall-downs, bank edges, trees, stump areas, and just about any areas fishable.
Now, let’s move out into deeper water areas to where you may have 6 to 10’ depths. These same techniques already mentioned for surface and sub-surface patterns will work just as well in this deeper water (especially around and on top of submerged structure and vegetation), but now let’s fish a little deeper with these baits. In the case of the "Hard-Jerkbait", select one that suspends and or has a diving-bill on the front of it to get it down under the waters surface. Most of these "Hard-Jerkbaits" will be made for the depth of water you choose to fish (the bigger the front bill, the deeper it will go). Now, choose one for a 8’ depth, cast it out, start your retrieve to get it down to the desired depth, then start jerking or twitching it a few times than let it lay motionless for a moment. Keep repeating this technique all the way back to the boat, however, when the bass are more active, you can just twitch and jerk the bait all the way back to the boat without any pause. One factor to always remember when bass fishing is: "Always let the bass dictate how they want the presentation!" Now, let’s use a "Soft-Jerkbait" in this same area. To get the "Soft-Jerkbait" down in deeper depths you can rig it actually three different ways. 1. A Texas-rig with a front weight. 2. A Straight-rig with a pencil weight, or nail weight inserted into the bait itself. 3. A Carolina-rig with the bait free floating attached to the leader line of this weighted rig. Either three of these riggings will allow you to work these "Soft-Jerkbaits at deeper depths.
Although I’ve cover some of the basic presentations with these Jerkbaits, there are many more! I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have concerning bass fishing in general. I teach many students at my 3-Day "On-Water" Bass Fishing School all phases of recreational as well as tournament fishing techniques with a focus on "Individual Personalized Instruction."