Shallow or deep?

. Part of the appeal of jerkbaits is that they can draw fish from a great distance, especially in clear water. Moreover, jerk lures frequently draw fish vertically — up and down in the water column — as well as horizontally. The latter fact raises the question of when to fish conventional shallow-running jerkbaits and when to opt for deeper-running versions.

Jerkbaits have factored heavily into the careers of two anglers who call Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and the western basin of Lake Erie their "home" waters. Their choices in jerkbaits and colors are similar, too. Yet each has a slightly different take on shallow vs. deep-runner selection.

Pro bass angler Joe Balog is more apt to select a shallow-running jerkbait like the Lucky Craft Pointer 100 and Rapala X-Rap first before turning to the deep diving relatives of these baits. "I probably fish a shallower jerkbait that runs at the 4- to 6-foot level more than I do a deep version," said Balog.

Gerry Gostenik of Great Lakes Bass Fishing Guide Service ( gets double duty out of his deep diving Lucky Craft Pointer DD. "I'll use the regular Pointer 100 if I'm fishing 3 to 5 feet deep, but if I'm going to be fishing any water over 7 to 8 feet deep, I like the double deep version," he said.

When the hot action of early spring finds St. Clair and Erie smallmouth working shallow flats with maximum depth of 8 or 10 feet, the Pointer DD is frequently his first choice. "Even if I feel it ticking the bottom a little, I can control the depth with the action I impart to the bait," he adds.

He also uses line diameter to control the depth, choosing 12-pound fluorocarbon when fishing shallow flats or to stay high in the water column and 8-pound fluorocarbon when he needs to reach fish positioned at 10 feet or more.


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