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Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

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Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby OutdoorActionOntario » Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:57 pm

We all know the impact throwing a hard jerk-bait can have over the course of a season. This bait can and will catch multiple species of fish from ice-out to end of season, depending on cadence changes and other presentation factors.

However, it's not quite as "popular" in northern regions such as ours to see soft jerk-baits (often called fluke-style baits) thrown, even though this tactic is a known Big Fish producer. I think back to the 1990's in the Kawartha's and throwing the Sluggo (used to love the red with gold speckle) to grab big lazy Largemouth from weeds and docks. This basic approach has been around for years... Today, many prefer to throw a Senko, but these weightless fluke style baits are another option that can be your ticket to big Bass whether fished from shore or water.

In the Ottawa Valley, I have had success in several lakes in the middle of summer into the fall by using a soft jerk-bait. Would the same bass eat a hard jerk-bait or a Senko? Most likely, but part of fishing is changing approaches so you are always learning and figuring out new ways to find success on the water.

One factor that is a major advantage over the hard jerk-bait is that I can rig a soft jerk-bait "Tex-posed" to get it deep into weed lines and also to pull it through brush, around rocks, current and other structure/cover we find around local waterways. Both presentations can be used as "Search" style baits as well, which is always good when you are covering a new body of water.

Some will use braid to rip hard jerk-baits through weed, which can trigger strikes, but at the same time the braid can get caught up in your treble hooks due to how it sits in the water from its floating characteristics. I use 20 lb. braided line for hard jerk-baits but will often have a 10-14 pound mono leader in this situation (heavier mono in Pike-infested waters or dense weed growth.) I use un-weighted soft jerk-baits with 15 to 20 pound braid mainline and a 10-12 pound Seaguar leader fluorocarbon, on a spinning reel and typically a 6'6" to 7'2" rod. These two different leaders will cause the hard bait to stay put in the water column due to the mono, and will give a slow sink with the fluoro leader for the soft baits. Both of these actions can be deadly on the pause when you are ripping them.

The best thing about hard or soft jerk-baits is that you let the fish tell you what they want. It all comes down to cadence, and once you catch a fish, it is usually just about repeating that same cadence you just had success on to unlock additional lip-grips. It's easy to know where to start: In cold water you go slow, speeding up as the water temperature increases. By mid-summer, you should be popping that jerk-bait as rapidly as you would a walk-the-dog topwater. Line-watching can be important as well, which is common sense when using a weightless bait of any type. Another tip is that you can add worm rattles to the soft-baits to make them a little more interesting to fish - just don't be surprised by how deep the fish will inhale these noisy, soft and delicious looking baits we throw at them. You are going to want to have some good pliers handy.

Some of my go-to hard jerk-baits include: Rapala X-Rap, Shadow Rap, Jackall Squad Minnow, Lucky Craft Flash Pointer and the Livetarget Baitball series. For the soft side, I go with Zoom Flukes, Berkley Jerk Shad, Strike King Caffeine Shad and Trigger X Drop Dead Minnows. All of these (and the many other brands out there) will be producers for you if you tie them on this summer.

On another note, you can take that same soft fluke style bait and pin it to a 1/4 - 1/2 oz. jig head and pick up some serious walleye by dead-sticking ("Moping" as the Lindner's call it) and jigging on hot summer days in deep water, right into the fall;. Also, don't be surprised if you stumble upon some weed-dwelling walleye if you are using a weightless fluke on current-flushed weed-lines on hot summer days. You can also T-rig a drop shot with flukes and go after giant Smallmouth in the fall with these same baits.

So, are you trying soft jerk-baits this season or do you prefer to stick with the hard jerk-baits?

Tight Lines

~OAO~
OutdoorActionOntario - Ottawa ON
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby TheMaverick » Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:48 pm

We used to throw the soft "jerk\twich" baits quite often, actually predominantly to any other lure back in the 90's.
The Berkley Slug was our lure of choice, it was stiffer than the Sluggo.
We also threw lots of Bass Assassins, I still remember are favorite color, Brown and white with a red tail.

Not sure why we stopped using them, but to this day, I prefer hard jerkbaits.
If fishin ain't your mission, then you can kiss my Bass!
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby ShawnD » Fri Jul 10, 2015 2:07 pm

Hard Jerkbaits from me, I love the suspending ones.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby StarTzar » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:30 pm

The Maverick said it all for us ...
We also used to dead stick slugs.
I did start throwing a few slugs lately.
I plan to use both this weekend on the Big Rideau.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby cndbasshunter » Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:44 pm

i still throw a slug or fluke when a hard jerkbait doesnt fit in.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby i got worms » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:11 pm

I love using both when the time is right. Hard jerks for open water or over submerged grass. Soft jerks in and around the thick stuff. I still love the sluggo and always have a couple bags on hand. Slide 'em through the pads and over the slop and twitch 'em through the open pockets. Can be the ticket when the frog bite seems off.
I got 99 problems but a fish ain't one...
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby mb_fishing » Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:07 am

I just bought a 100 pack of white Berkely Power Slugs. It is my go-to bait for shallow water. Extremely effective around grass and stumps. Great for erratic retrieves or dead sticking. I use the hard baits in medium depth water but to be honest I gravitate towards wacky and texas rigging when 6 feet and deeper. I definitely have to spend more time using the hardbaits. When I do use them the Megabass has been tough to beat.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby lape0019 » Sun Jul 12, 2015 11:16 am

Honestly, it hard bait or nothing for me. I'm going to have to change this up a bit.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby bucketmouth » Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:18 pm

Im completely the opposite I guess. Always been a fan of sluggos and I'll throw flukes over their hardbait counterparts 9 times outta 10. Just more my comfort zone i guess. Interesting topic.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby OutdoorActionOntario » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:41 am

I love hearing that you guys are still using the Slug/Sluggo style baits. BUT, where are you buying them? I don't recall seeing them anywhere locally.

I was out on the Ottawa River on Friday night for a few hours. I was using fluke baits (why not, since I wrote about it)

I did have a little luck, and I think I know why the shore guys are having success right now. Every single fish I caught was about 2 feet off the Rip Rap banks of the Ottawa River and they were hitting the bait either on the fall or on a deadstick approach. There is usually an inside weed line that runs parallel along the rip rap banks and that seems to be where they were keyed in on (it was late afternoon into the evening I was fishing)

Most successful colours were black and a perch laminate colour.

Overall, Nothing to brag about, just some smallish smallies, but it's OK as long as they are biting...
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby lape0019 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:47 am

Paddletales has a few colors.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby RJ » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:09 pm

I use neither. I have em but have rarely seen the water.

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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby Tip-up » Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:46 pm

I use both. Hardbaits for smallmouth and soft for largemouth.
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Re: Hard vs. Soft Jerk-baits

Postby BradGuenette » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:14 pm

Use both, more for Smallmouth though. SK caffeine shads are a deadly shallow water smallie bait.
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