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FISH STORY: Suspending Jerkbaits

Pause for the jaws.

July 5, 2007
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When you twitch, snap and stop a jerkbait, that pause triggers fish of every stripe to strike. Suspending baits that remain at their running depth instead of popping to the surface when paused are knockouts for everything from saltwater predators to fresh-water mainstays on the order of bass and walleye. The basic way to fish suspenders, including Rapala Husky Jerks, Smithwick Rogues and Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows, is to cast out, reel down five or six cranks to get the lure to its running depth, and stop. Twitch or jerk the bait, pause and repeat. Ninety-percent of strikes occur when the bait rests, halting in the face of a following fish. (Hey, if I feign a punch, you’re gonna flinch. Same deal here.)

How much you rip or twitch depends what you’re chasing. Bass, for instance, love high-speed ripping followed by the pause. Rip a suspender as hard as you can, and smallmouth bass go bananas. Walleye, on the other hand, will lounge off the edge of sandbars and underwater points, where they prefer a bait reeled down to depth, twitched lightly with the rod tip, not retrieved with the reel, with pulls of perhaps six to 12 inches, and then stopped. If bass slam a jerkbait, walleye typically tick it. Either way, the end result is the same.

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