With hundreds of baits to choose from, many anglers relegate the jerkbait box to the corner of the garage until early spring. However, Elite Series pro Mark Tucker, says that's a mistake. During the fall, Tucker often relies on jerkbaits to target hard to catch suspended bass.
"The jerkbait is most effective in the late summer and early fall when the shad are located in the top 8 to 10 feet of the water column," Tucker explains. "They may be sitting over 50 feet of water but the bass are underneath the bait feeding on the shad."
When locating open water bass, the key is to remain around the bait. On lakes like Table Rock and Bull Shoals, Tucker says that the bass will "get out over open water and chase bait in the middle of nowhere." Suspended bass in open water are typically some of the toughest fish to target, but Tucker says that the jerkbait can be the ticket to success. "It's hard to reach the bass with an effective presentation because if you throw a crankbait, it will dive below the bass. That's where the jerkbait comes into play."
During late summer and early fall, Tucker favors an "old floating Rogue" or a Megabass jerkbait. The key to triggering strikes is in the retrieve. "You really have to make a lot of erratic movement with the jerkbait to trigger a reaction strike," he explains. "I use a presentation that keeps the bait coming toward the boat fairly quickly.
The key is to know when the bait is working properly. Sometimes you get a lame bait that just doesn't run right." In order to make his jerkbait dance, Tucker utilizes a loop knot on the nose of his bait to increase the side-to-side slashing action. He also uses a softer rod, favoring American Rodsmith's 6-6 H3 Titanium baitcasting rod.
When he is unable to locate open water bass in late summer and early fall, Tucker looks for floating docks. "This time of year, a lot of shad are located right under the dock floats, eating the algae off of the sides of the dock," he explains. "One of the things that I like to do is use a jerkbait around the docks to generate a reaction strike because the bass will be suspended around the floats, feeding on baitfish."
One of the tricks that the Missouri pro utilizes to catch suspended dock bass involves tweaking his jerkbait, depending on which side of the dock he is targeting. "I'll take a jerkbait that runs a little to the left or right and work a specific side of a dock so the bait darts underneath the float system," he explains. "That can make a difference."