Quiz any hardcore basser on the best season for throwing a jerkbait and he’ll tell you it’s winter — guaranteed. It’s a shared belief, especially among those who fish waters that lend themselves to the technique.
As air and water temperatures plummet, bass begin to change their habits. They’re no longer interested in chasing baitfish on the surface — at least not for extended periods. Instead, they’re beginning to seek out places of comfort to weather the harsh conditions ahead. Those zones might include steep bluff banks, like those found on highland reservoirs, or deep weed edges in natural lakes. Another possibility could be canals or backwater holes on rivers where current is slack.
Wherever the fish go to winter, it’s usually in numbers. And a jerkbait can make them bite … provided you’re zeroed in with the right balance of tackle and the correct lure.
Setting the stage
Let’s assume we know where the fish are located and the depth they’re holding in. The next step is to choose the appropriate jerkbait — one that can reach that depth and coax them to bite. Remember, we’re talking super-chilled water and lethargic fish, so not just any minnow-shaped lure will do.
You’ll want something you can put in front of them that will force a strike.
Suspending jerkbaits will do that. They can remain in the strike zone indefinitely, and the longer they’re in front of the fish, the more likely they’ll be eaten.
There are countless suspending jerkbaits on the market, and most will catch fish. But if you’re looking for something different — something the fish have never seen — consider the World Minnow and World Diver by Shimano. These new lures feature “Flash Boost” — a thin reflective strip that flickers continuously, even when the lure is at rest. They make the lure shimmer, just like a real baitfish.
When the lure is jerked or twitched and then comes to rest, the flash feature continues to pulse and attract fish that may or may not be in the mood to feed.
I discovered the effectiveness of the World Minnow during the St. Lawrence River Elite Series tournament last July. Over four days of competition I weighed in 80 pounds of smallmouth bass — a 4-pound average. And I’m convinced that the World Minnow’s erratic, side-to-side movements combined with its Flash Boost feature made the difference.
Other features of the World Minnow and World Diver include “Scale Boost” and “Jet Boost,” which increase reflectivity and improve casting distance, respectively. Jet Boost refers to the lure’s weight transfer system, which is controlled by a spring mechanism. As the lure is cast, the weight travels toward the tail section. When the lure is pulled beneath the surface, the spring adjusts the weight’s position so that the lure assumes the perfect attitude throughout the duration of the retrieve.