Soft Jerkbaits: Why Pros Use Them (and why you should, too).

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Fall bass fishing can be frustrating. For me, there are seasons where I’ll stand complacently at the mouth of an inlet staring at a school, and I can’t get them.  I can see them, hear them, but, of course, they’re not interested in anything I have. Guys have stood mere feet away in the past and smashed five fish on a weightless tube while I throw a jig and come up skunked. And then, there are the hilarious blow-ups all down the bank – those wacks and swirls, yet, nothing takes fancy to a topwater or jerk bait.  Before you know it, they’re gone.
And why not? These fish have seen it all by this point in the season. Another scenario I still struggle with is vegetation still present where a school is active- say goodbye to treble hooks! No cranks, no rip-stop jerk baits, just frustration, watching frenzied bass devour bluegill after bluegill.
But, the biggest game-changer for me was soft jerkbaits. From fishing cold fronts to summer evenings, these baits land big fish. They act as a perfect switch up from the same old crankbait and topwater ripping past at the same angle and from the same direction. They present game fish with a whole new forage. This is why pro anglers like Kevin Van Dam and others have made space on their boats for a rod rigged with a fluke-style bait when the bite is on.  But these morsels have proven effective for reasons other than being a lure that anglers can rip around aggressively. After I landed my first few bass using this method I became obsessed with learning how to fish soft jerkbaits. 


Baits like the zoom super fluke can be fished anywhere, top to bottom, weightless, drop shotted, you name it. Fall fatties swarming the surface to feed on shad and bluegill are easily fooled by a tex-sposed soft jerk bait, for example. There’s no end to the versatility of these baits.

Some anglers like to fish them weighted, rigged with an underpin texas rigged, weightless with a feathery fall and flutter, dead stick it, drop shot it, and every season provides an opportunity to use them.

How To Fish Soft JerkBaits

I’ve seen these baits rigged so many ways it’s overwhelming. My preference when fishing around active schools is a texas rig and a twitch pause retrieve. For this method, you can go with either a 4/0 offset wire hook or a super line and rig it weightless on 14lb mono to achieve a darting action. The drop of this lure appears delicious like a shad on his last breath. But other methods include;

 Drop Shot

When fishing offshore ledges and dropoffs, a drop-shotted fluke is perfect, typically on a 3/16 pencil weight with a finesse, wide-gap hook, or a VMC Spin-Shot Drop Shot Hook. This presentation is especially effective in the fall after heavy rain and runoff staining your lake to the color of chocolate milk. This was the case just a week ago when I fished a small honey hole in the Northern California mountains.

A drop shotted soft jerkbait can is a great option for bass after rain

Visibility was poor, and although I received a few wacks here and there on a Rapala rip-stop, the dark blue and black Strike King 1/2 oz Heavy Cover Jig with a Bandito Bug trailer saw the most action.  To me, this meant the rain had driven these fish to the bottom and the water clarity prevented accurate size-up and reaction time. My son had been throwing a drop-shotted Zoom Super Fluke with Arkansaw Shinner color with no bites. After one color change from the shinner to a watermelon red, he nailed a little bass, although big for the pond we were on.

Soft Jerkbaits like the zoom super fluke in watermelon red are perfect for stained water after fall and winter rain.

Additionally, a weightless presentation is effective when nose hooked. This allows for better hookups. Bass will often hammer a bait head first. For other methods of hooking a soft jerk bait, check out this Tactical Bassin’ content for more awesome tricks.  

Dead Stick It

Covering the bottom is an effective way to land a big bass during the colder seasons. The key is slowing it down. When the bite turns off, focus on the drop, a slow, enticing fall, and leave it still, then begin hopping it along. But make sure to leave time for a good dead stick in-between hops. You’d be surprised by the number of bites you’ll get as your lure is motionless.

Check out this Wired2fish article on Big Bite Bates pro-Russ Lane and his techniques, including dead sticking.

As a takeaway, Russ likes to use a larger soft jerkbait with a bulkier appearance.

It’s bulkier and beefier than other soft jerk baits, which allows me to fish quickly. I can bomb long casts with it and work it quickly without it hopping out of the water and leaving the most productive strike zones.’

Soft Jerkabaits: Grass Fishing

Soft plastics like the Zoom Fluke are a lethal option for putting fish on the deck. And one reason is that they dominate in the grass! Ideal locations in the fall would be inlets and back bays where baitfish are being pushed to. Coincidently, these locations also may hold grass. However, these fish are likely grouped up on a hard structure that happens to be near that brownish, free-floating grass. A weightless Super Zoom Fluke on a Gamakatsu SuperLine Offset EWG hook is perfect when it’s obvious that bass are present.

Soft Jerkbaits: Top Water

Pro Anglers like Kevin Van Dam know this. That’s why he keeps a rod rigged with a KVD Caffeine  Shad soft jerk bait on hand for fall fishing. In summary, he likes to burn it across the surface in a darting motion as a follow-up to a topwater. Check out the full video that covers his fast fishing approach that covers water. 

Best Hooks for Soft Jerkbaits

Just as soft Jerkbaits provide versatility, their hook selections can be equally as versatile. When fishing a zoom super fluke like a standard jerk bait with a twitch pause cadence, the best choice is a Gamkatsu super-line hook.  For drop-shotting, I enjoy the simplicity of the VMC Spinshot Hook. The built-in double swivel lets you rig up faster. Give it a shot!

Final Thoughts

My go-to in fall are soft jerkbaits. Similarly, my go-to in the heat of summer is a drop-shotted super fluke as I target shade. These baits have proven effective when targeting game fish with teeth and bucket mouths. Talk about a game-changer!

The best thing to do is experiment with different baits and hooks and techniques. And check out what the pros are saying about these morcels. Trust me, you won’t regret it!






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