These are the best wintertime techniques and tricks you need to get more strikes on jerkbaits in cold water.
How to Boost Winter Jerkbait Bites
First off, keep in mind that fish are just as lazy and slow moving in the cold water as you are waking up in winter.
Although this cold snap is enough to keep some off the water, it is also a time when other anglers will switch up their tactics to catch jaw-dropping bags despite the weather. Often suspended near cover, bass can certainly be coaxed out for a bite if the lure has just enough snap to catch the attention of the bass, but not too much action to avoid scaring off these worthy strikes.
As water temperatures change, so does the behavior of fish and to get more jerkbait bites, you need to change it up too with these following tips:
The Best Spots to Fish Jerkbaits
Scouting spots for jerkbaits isn’t hard.
In winter, bass begin to move from deeper water towards areas that have deep channels but nearby shallower waters as well. Since fish in late winter are approaching the pre-spawn period, the best spots to fish are generally the backs of creeks and in river channels.
This water might be shallower in parts and deeper in others, so it’s best to have jerkbait options for 2-6 foot depths and options to dive past that to the 8-12 foot range.
Wind is a Good Thing!
Since the average water in winter is reasonably clear, fish can be particularly easy to spook. This is especially true off of banks and other points where water will rapidly change from shallower to deeper.
You might be surprised, but wind is an excellent resource in these conditions.
Windblown points and banks blessed with a breeze will usually yield better bites because the moving water makes it harder for fish to tell the difference between your jerkbait and an actual meal.
In order to visually disguise your jerkbait and see more strikes, follow the wind to find the best fishing points for jerkbaits.
What Jerkbaits Work in Winter
Unlike crankbaits that eventually float to the top, most jerkbaits are made to suspend and remain buoyant at the relative depth of your pauses. Allowing the jerkbait to simulate injured or dying shad, suspending jerkbaits are excellent lures in winter.
Color is another important consideration for the jerkbait’s uncanny resemblance to shad patterns. For the most success, match the hatch and choose jerkbait colors that coordinate closely with your fishing location.
Generally speaking, these colors will feature a predominantly white or light colored body, but add blue or black along the back and occasionally, some flash of chartreuse or red to spark more strikes.
The Jerkbait: Deeper Water, Longer Lips
As water temperatures take a dive, you will want a deep diving jerkbait that can do the same.
To get more depth when fishing a jerkbait, simply use one with a longer lip or bill to ensure it will dive down to the appropriate range to get more strikes.
Timing the Jerkbait’s Presentation
In cold water, timing is everything.
Fish are slow and lethargic, but still can’t resist an easy meal that’s timed just right. To attract bass enough to strike, you need to slow down your cadence and extend the pauses between each jerking or snapping movement.
Also, keep a count in your head as you work the jerkbait to identify what is working and what isn’t. This is a great way to find the right cadence in your water.
Colder Water, Slower Cadence and Longer Pauses
For the most success, let the fish and the water dictate your jerkbait cadence.
Start at a slower speed that you are comfortable with and see what happens.
If you get some bites, continue this slower cadence, but if you can’t buy a strike, then slow it down even further. Surprising to most, slowing down the cadence and extending the time during pauses will usually garner more bass strikes.
Don’t be afraid to switch it up and slow down even more, some anglers find that 7-10 second pauses are just long enough to lure in a big bite, but again, it depends on the water and the water’s temperature.
The best way to measure the perfect cadence is through experience and experimentation on the water.
Use Jerkbaits with Fluorocarbon Line
For jerkbaits, switching to fluorocarbon line is another easy way to improve your hook up rates in cold water.
Since bass are already lethargic and finicky in the cold and also more aware of braided line in the clearer water, fluorocarbon works better to get more bites because it is basically invisible alongside fish in the water. Fluorocarbon is also denser in comparison to mono and will sink better to allow your jerkbait to work at depths that draw out more strikes.
Use fluorocarbon fishing line to get your lures deeper and give your jerkbait performance that extra bump.
Why Jerkbaits Work in Winter
When it comes to a twitch-style bait that is great for winter bass fishing, jerkbaits are arguably one of the best lures to get the job done.
As temperatures in the water drop, it becomes harder for bait fish like shad to survive. As these shad start to float up to the surface and die off, their bodies have a subtle shiver that is random and erratic.
This shiver is the same thing that attracts bass to take a strike at an easy meal. When slowing down the cadence, giving it a slight snap, and extending the pause period between snaps, jerkbaits give off virtually the same attraction.
Is this the only reason why jerkbaits work? No, but it is certainly a good one that has stood the test of time.
You know what they say, just match the hatch!
Build Yourself a Better Jerkbait Rod
With some tips for wintertime jerkbaits covered, let’s take a look at how to build the best custom rod to match this cold water fishing application.
The first thing to accept when shopping for the perfect jerkbait rod, is that there are trade offs in blank specifications that are tough to get around unless you have fully grasped how you fish a jerkbait.
For instance, some prefer more moderate actions to keep hooksets in with trebles and absorb the shock of surging fish. Others choose extra fast action rods because it makes snapping the jerkbait much more responsive and effective.
The trade off is that moderate action blanks take a lot more dexterity to truly twitch the jerkbait enough to draw the right attention to the lure and get a strike. On the other hand with extra fast actions, twitching jerkbaits takes little to no effort, but fighting fish can be more challenging since the tip isn’t as forgiving as the moderate action tip.
Finding the right balance between tip flex and rod action isn’t impossible, but it does take more consideration for how you personally fish.
This quick blank breakdown should help guide you to the right decision:
If you are more cautious with maintaining hook ups and don’t mind the wrist work it takes to snap a jerkbait well, choose a slower blank like the CB845-MHX Rod Blank.
If you want less work twitching the jerkbait and have more confidence in your treble hooks, then choosing an extra fast rod blank will benefit you most. For example, the MB813XF-MHX Rod Blank is an extra fast blank that is great for snapping jerkbaits and trusting trebles to do the rest.
If you are looking for a rod blank that runs the median of these two trade-offs, the MB843-MHX Rod Blank is a fast action rod that will give you the closest possible option for the best of both worlds in working lures and fighting fish.
**Find each of these rod blanks in streamlined Multi-Option Rod Kits at the bottom of the page!**
Better Rod Lengths for Working Jerkbaits
Since jerkbaits require sharp snaps with the rod tip to move the bait, it’s also important to consider the length of the rod blank.
Rods on the shorter end of the spectrum will make it easier to avoid smacking the boat. Obviously smacking the boat can damage the rod, but it will also throw off your cadence and rhythm for the jerkbait.
Shorter rods also help keep your tip away from the smacking the water, which is a great way to spook fish interested in the jerkbait.
These accidents interfere in your jerkbait’s cadence, which disrupts any bass closing in on the jerkbait and that’s exactly what you don’t want.
Assemble the Foolproof Winter Handle
Besides shorter blanks, shorter handles will also benefit your fishing performance in the cold.
Just think about all the layers and jackets you wear while fishing in the cold, then add a rod with a long handle constantly grabbing at your clothes.
As you can imagine, this probably won’t work out too well.
Instead, scale the handle down in order to keep your hands and grips away from snagging your jacket.