Deep jerkbait tactics for cold water

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Seigo Saito

As water temperatures drop rapidly – as they have in the North right now – bass move into winter patterns and several techniques can catch them.

For me, though, it’s tough to beat a deep diving jerkbait worked around drop-offs, edges, weedlines, bridge corners, riprap, bluff ends and places like that that cold water bass use.

I do fish the jerkbait slower than I do during other times of the year and pay close attention to boat positioning to ensure my lure stays in the strike zone longer on those places I think the bass are using.

When I say I slow down, I don’t go as slow as a lot of people do. It’s still a very efficient technique for covering a good bit of water, so by fishing parallel to edges, I keep the lure in the productive zone throughout the retrieve.

Typically, our lakes are pretty clear throughout the country right now. To fish the jerkbait, I like water clarity of 3 to 4 feet or deeper. Crystal clear water is ideal.

I prefer the Strike King KVD Deep Diving Jerkbait in real bright colors – sexy shad and chartreuse sexy shad are my favorites – even in clear water. After all, it’s about getting the fish to see the bait when they are far away.

I fish it on the same equipment – my 6-10, medium heavy Quantum Tour Edition rod with 10-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line. The lighter line helps make longer casts, which is an important element when fishing this in clear water.

The cadence is critical. In the warmer months, I use a fast erratic cadence, but I tone it down when the water is cold.

Rather that snapping the bait, I use a solid pull a couple of times and pause briefly. When I pause, I point the rod top at the bait to give it slack and enhance the action.

Also, by pulling the bait short distances vs. jerking it hard, the bait will run deeper by as much as 3 or 4 feet.

A lot of anglers will let their jerkbait sit for five seconds or longer.

Not me. One second between twitch/pulls is plenty. However, if I have a high percentage spot, such as the end of a laydown tree or tip of a bluff or grass line, I may let it sit longer and always make multiple casts to the same spot.

Also, be sure to pay attention to the balance of the bait. As the water temperature drops, a jerkbait that floats in the summer will sink in real cold water. I often switch out the hooks to three No. 4 Mustad KVD Trebles and test it to make sure it isn’t sinking too fast. I don’t mind a little sink, but nothing rapid to where the bait isn’t natural or balanced.

So, when the water drops into the 40s, reach for a deep jerkbait, test it for balance and try working it how I described here. You will be surprised the results.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.