Artificial baits are used around the world by professional and amateur anglers alike. Amongst the various artificial options, you have the soft jerkbait. They offer more versatility than live baits, not to mention how much more affordable they are. While live bait is obviously beneficial as it is alive and can attract fish, there are many drawbacks to worry about. With artificial ones, many of those drawbacks are negated.
What exactly are these baits, how can they be used, and what are the best ones around? All of these questions – and more – will be answered for you in this article. The aim is to help you understand soft jerkbaits in more detail, improving your bass fishing.
What is a Soft Jerkbait?
A soft jerkbait is a type of bass lure that has been used for many decades. Like most soft baits, it is made of soft plastic and molded into a specific shape. Unlike things like creature baits, soft jerkbaits are designed to look like smaller fish. Specifically, they will replicate minnows in a 4-to-5-inch range of styles and colors. They have a long and thin body with a little split tail at the end.
Previously, if you look at older designs, soft jerkbaits were very plain. In truth, they’d look like little blobs of soft plastic, yet they still seemed to work rather well. Over the years, the designs have been refined and innovated to become far more effective than they used to be. A combination of colors and patterns on the baits makes them look even more realistic when in the water.
More often than not, soft jerkbaits are manufactured with salt inside them. The amount of salt loaded into the bait will vary, but the aim is that this helps the bait sink. Perhaps the key thing to know about this bait is that it can be used in almost any condition at any point in the year. However, most professional anglers agree that spring is the absolute best time to use soft jerkbaits for the most success.
Best Soft Jerkbait Setup
If you want to start using this bait properly, you need to have a good setup for it. Here, you are looking at three main components:
- The rod itself
- The reel
- The line
We’ll begin with the line, and most anglers all agree that braid or fluoro lines are the most effective. A fluoro line is particularly good here as it is almost invisible in the water, adding an element of stealth to your fishing. Consider this, the soft jerkbait is designed to look like a minnow in the water. So, the best way to achieve this as naturally as possible is by minimizing the line’s appearance. As such, this is why fluoro is such a popular preference.
Regarding your rod and reel selection, it can vary depending on your personal preference. The beauty of soft jerkbaits is that they can be used with a wide variety of different fishing rods. You also need to take into account the fishing techniques you use and where you are hunting for bass. Baitcasting combinations work very well if you’re in open water looking for bait, while a spinning rod combination is more effective in docks and areas with more obstacles in the way.
Ultimately, the biggest factor is your own personal habits and what you are comfortable with. In terms of weight, most bass fishing setups are lightweight with a strong drag to catch the big fish. However, if you don’t get very large bass where you’re fishing, you can sacrifice some drag force. It really does come down to the age-old debate of baitcasting vs. spinning – which do you prefer? Mainly, this will come down to the settings you’re in.
How to Rig a Soft Jerkbait
You can rig a soft jerkbait in a range of ways depending on your fishing style and how you intend to catch the bass. In this section, we will go through some of the most popular and effective ways of rigging this soft plastic bait.
- A weighted spinhead rig – This is an option if you want to cover large stretches of water as quickly as possible. A spinhead rig provides a shiny blade that spins in the water and catches the sunlight, catching the attention of any bass nearby
- A Texas rig – Putting the weight first before the bait allows it to sink lower down into the water. This is a great rigging option if you’re in deep waters with nesting bass at the bottom.
- A Carolina rig – A similar option to the T-rig, only the weight is placed above the bait. This allows the line to be equipped with a heavier weight if required, making it better if you need to go really deep.
- A Straight rig – Another rigging option for getting good depth, but this one involves using a pencil weight that’s inserted into the bait itself. A slightly different setup, but still yields similar results.
- Extra Wide Gap hook – With an EWG, you can rig soft jerkbait for a weightless presentation. This is particularly effective when you are fishing in the shallows and there are lots of bass hiding nearby. If there’s a lot of grass and vegetation in the water where you fish, the EWG rigging option is generally the best.
As with everything to do with angling, the decision comes down to the angler. Consider the conditions where you’re fishing, and you will soon be able to figure out which way to rig a soft jerkbait is right for you.
How to Fish a Soft Jerkbait
You can use a number of fishing techniques with a soft jerkbait. However, the style of this bait – and what it’s designed to mimic – lends preference to some techniques over others. There are both ways to use this bait for topwater fishing and for fishing in deeper areas.
As mentioned above, using an EWG with your soft jerkbait is perfect in areas of vegetation as the weedless rigging means it won’t get caught in anything. A clever technique to use here is to cast your bait and make short twitches now and then. After a couple of twitches, you let the bait stay still. The twitching is aimed at luring in some bass by alerting them to something in their feeding area.
Snap Jigging is another technique that works extremely well with this bait. In essence, a long cast is made, letting the bait settle all the way to the bottom. To retrieve your line, you make a very fast upward snapping motion and then let the bait settle back to the bottom. The idea is to keep this up all the way back to your fishing spot. There’s a high likelihood of triggering aggressive bites from the bass with this method, so be ready to act quickly.
There’s a similar technique to the first one as well, but this involves more jerking and twitching. You cast your line in deep water, then jerk or twitch over and over, before letting the line lay still for a moment or two. Repeat this as you retrieve your line back to you, and be ready for action at any moment.
Recommended Soft Jerkbaits
At this stage in our guide, you should have all the knowledge needed to understand what soft jerkbaits are and how to fish with them. Nevertheless, there’s still a big question looming large; which soft jerkbaits are worth buying? Clearly, you have a plethora of options at your disposal, but these are the most highly recommended:
- Zoom Salty Super fluke – A 5.25 soft jerkbait that’s impregnated with salt for some extra weight. It features a deep belly with a hook slot, while the streamlined fork tail helps it swoop and glide through the water. The beauty of the salt added to the bait means it can be rigged weightless, saving you time and effort.
- Zoom 4″ Fluke – An extremely realistic option that looks incredibly like a little minnow. This soft jerkbait is highly detailed and features lifelike fins that will confuse any bass in the area. The tail is highly responsive to changes in the water, wiggling and flowing with the current. It’s 4″ inches long and can be customized with a range of different color schemes.
- Strike King KVD Perfect Plastic Caffeine Shad 5″ – Perfectly designed for top-water fishing, this soft jerkbait is made out of the world’s best plastics. It’s loaded with salt, but the unique thing about this bait is that it has a coffee scent to it. The purpose of this is to mask any other smells in the bait that might put fish off. Therefore, it could encourage more attention, landing you lots of fresh bass on your hook. Works very well as part of a Carolina rig as well, and the air-filled bubble tail gives it a unique look.
Soft jerkbait is a popular artificial bait that helps to attract bass in a range of different situations. If you want to try fishing with this bait, be sure you know which rigs to use, the best ways to fish, and which bait you should purchase for more success.