Spring is the perfect time to use a jerkbait, the bass are just coming out a cold slumber party and they want to eat. Up here in Minnesota the lakes have been covered with ice for months and in the south the water is not frozen but sometimes very close. The Bassʼs metabolism is slow in early spring and that is when a suspending jerkbait is the perfect choice. My choice of jerkbaits are the Duo Realis 120SP and the 100SP, the 120 is longer coming in at 4.75” and the 100 is 4”. What I like about these is the sound and the action, it has a one knock sound to it rather then the standard multi rattle sound of most jerkbaits. The action is just as good, you can rip it when the water is warm and it has the action of a old Suspending Bomber Long A that Kevin Vandam helped design over 20 years ago. In cold water you can use a pull rather then jerk to entice a bite from a cold sluggish bass.
Keep it simple and experiment with the pause, sometimes it may be a long as 30 seconds or even longer. When the water is cold 40-48 degrees I will impede a pull pull pause rather then a standard jerk jerk pause used when the temperature gets in the 50ʼs. With the pull retrieve I will pull twice then pause and when you think you should pull the bait wait a little longer, thatʼs when that bass will hit it, on the pause. When it starts to get in the 50ʼs I start using that jerk jerk pause retrieve. The key thing with the jerk jerk pause retrieve is getting slack in your your line, that is what causes the jerkbait to really dart around like a “Walk the Dog Retrieve” under the water. As the water temperature increases and the bassʼs metabolism speeds up so does the speed of your retrieve. Like anything else in fishing you just have to experiment, what works one day might not work the next.
I like a 6ʼ4” to 6ʼ6” medium action custom baitcast rod that I make myself. I found that the when it comes to fishing a jerkbait Iʼm very particular from the handle design to the action of the rod. There is not a better way to get that action on the rod other then making to my specifications. You need that soft tip yet have enough back bone to drive a hook in a fishes mouth when making long casts. For gear ratios I mainly use 5.0.1 and 6.0.1 reels, Iʼm not reeling in the bait but rather jerking the bait and reeling in the slack. For line I use 10 or 12 and sometimes 8 lb. Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon. I use the 8 lb. when trying to target deeper suspended bass but 10 and 12 lb. are my main lines. If Iʼm throwing a smaller jerkbait Iʼll use the 10 Lb. Gamma and the bigger jerkbaits in the 4.75” to over 5” the 12 lb.
If your bait does not come with a feathered rear treble either make one and thatʼs easy to do or buy some at the sporting goods store. You can buy feathers at most sporting goods stores especially if they they sell fly fishing equipment. Get some feathers that slightly bend up yet are flexible, then tie the feathers with some thread or Iʼve even used some small diameter braid in pinch. The key is to have the feathers bend away from the center of the treble hook, when jerking the bait back to the boat the feathers look straight but when paused they flare out creating a subtle movement that triggers bites when the bite is TOUGH.