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One of the lonely bach­e­lors fish­ing the Mpumalanga Cast-for-Cash tour­na­ment trial and part of Team Berkley ABU where in­ter­viewed af­ter he was ex­plain­ing to a be­gin­ner bass an­gler about jerk baits fish­ing. – SA Bass

One of the lonely bach­e­lors fish­ing the Mpumalanga Cast-for-Cash tour­na­ment trial and part of Team Berkley ABU where in­ter­viewed af­ter he was ex­plain­ing to a be­gin­ner bass an­gler about jerk baits fish­ing. Nar­dus Harmse did not blink an eye and to give hi views on jerk­bait fish­ing in the win­ter

For many years hard jerk­baits have been pro­duc­ing bass all over the world and they do catch bass year round in most con­di­tions. Nar­dus started off by pick­ing a jerk­bait and ty­ing it to

his line. “You can catch bass on them any time. I be­lieve they work best dur­ing win­ter and early spring; that is if you can find a suit­able re­trieve. The cor­rect re­trieve will drive bass wild and if you can be pa­tient enough you can also be re­warded

with a strike just be­cause your bait has been sit­ting in their face long enough.” There is no limit to when and how to use jerk­baits Nar­dus ex­plains. “Jerk­baits are very ef­fec­tive in cold weather con­di­tions and I will start to fish rocky points, ledges, or drop offs first. It’s not that easy to fish them through grass patches, but it’s pos­si­ble that they will work bet­ter around grass edges.”

Nar­dus told me that the only lim­i­ta­tion he has found for these awe­some baits are muddy cold water be­cause jerk­baits lose their ef­fec­tive­ness in these con­di­tions. Most jerk­baits have rat­tles, or clack­ers, in them but does not have the solid vi­bra­tion like li­p­less baits to help the bass home in on the lures.

“This one is just my the­ory, but I pre­fer to fish jerk­baits in clear, cold water con­di­tions. The water tem­per­a­ture can be any­thing be­tween 8 to 15ºC. I have found that the clearer the water is, the far­ther you will draw the bass in strik­ing the lure.”

Nar­dus does a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent re­trieves then changes to a deep div­ing sus­pended jerk­bait to tar­get the deeper water. “Now and then a slow steady wind will work but the jerk­bait didn’t get its name from just cast­ing and re­triev­ing it. You must go out and ex­per­i­ment and find that trig­ger­ing re­trieve of jerks or twitches and pauses that drives a fish crazy enough to strike.”

When it comes to fish­ing sus­pend­ing jerk­bait in cold water you need to work on the bass’s re­ac­tionary and the teas­ing ap­pear­ance of an easy meal all in one cast. Nar­dus

re­veals his favourite re­trieve to start off with. “I like to start with very slow wind to get my jerk­bait to depth. Then I use a jerk-jerk-pause-jerk-pause-jerk-jerk re­trieve. The pauses in be­tween the jerks can be­tween 10 to 30 sec­onds. Jip you have to be pa­tient some­times and let it sit still there in full view. The bass will move closer to the bait, watch­ing it and with the slight­est move­ment will grab it with­out you re­al­is­ing it. Most of the time when the bass are a bit more ac­tive they will re­act on the jerk­bait when you jerk it and if they are less ag­gres­sive they will strike on the pauses.”

Nar­dus use this in­de­ci­sion to ad­just his re­trieve, more or less jerks or twitches, or longer and more pauses de­pend­ing on what the bass wants.

“I pre­fer a 6’6” medium-light ac­tion rod for get­ting the right snap on the bait”, Nar­dus ex­plains.

“Eight- to ten-pound test fluoro­car­bon line is per­fect; es­pe­cially with sus­pend­ing jerks and I like a slower 5.1:1, or 5.2:1 ra­tio reel for achiev­ing the right rhythm.”

Many of to­day’s jerk­baits have weight trans­fer sys­tems built in that helps to get the max­i­mum cast­ing dis­tance out of them. “You need to start off with a very long cast; as far as pos­si­ble. I will then crank the bait down four or six turns and brings the bait to life with my favourite twitch-pause ac­tion.” “It’s mostly a cold-water tech­nique so think ‘slow’”, Nar­dus of­fers. “Once I get it down, I like a twitch… long pause… twitch, twitch… long pause… twitch… long pause… twitch, twitch… long pause stroke.”

Nar­dus prefers a softer twitch and longer pause when the water is at its cold­est. As the water warms up above 14ºC, the twitches be­come more er­ratic and the pauses be­come shorter.

When Nar­dus gets con­fronted by post front con­di­tions he re­lies on jerk­baits be­cause they can re­ally out fish many

other baits. “Be­cause bass will be slow to feed, I will look for bass that sus­pend around flooded tim­ber, rocky drop offs, or brush piles. I will then try to get the baits to the proper

depth prior to get­ting to the cover and then let my bait soak in the proper depth right next to the cover. In my view the bass that are sus­pend­ing around cover af­ter fronts and they are very vul­ner­a­ble to this pre­sen­ta­tion. It all de­pends on what struc­tures are avail­able in the venue.”

One very im­por­tant fact to re­mem­ber when us­ing jerk­baits is to pick the cor­rect rod tip. Don’t fool your­self by think­ing just be­cause the there is a bill on the jerk­bait that you can fish it like a crankbait. Your reel should only be used for tak­ing up slack line. “It’s im­por­tant to twitch a jerk­bait with slack in your line”, Nar­dus said. “If you fish these lures on a tight line, you’re lim­it­ing the lure’s ac­tion. The er­ratic ac­tion is what makes the fish at­tack it.”

Work­ing the bait with slack line is also helpful when you con­sider that the bass are in a slug­gish win­ter mood. If the lure is mov­ing too far for­ward when you jerk, you’re prob­a­bly dis­cour­ag­ing nearby bass from bit­ing.

Don’t let the cold weather force you to stay home, pick out a cou­ple of your favourite jerk­baits and hit your favourite venue. You might be sur­prised at what you catch.

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