PACING HARD PLASTICS
With any lure, let the fish show you what retrieval speed they want by varying speeds until a fish connects with your presentation.
“Say I’m walking a lure such as a Rapala Skitter V across a shallow bar. I’ll start with a slow, steady retrieve,” says Bernie Schultz, a veteran saltwater angler, BassMaster Elite Series pro and lure collector. “I may pause the lure at times, but the pace is mostly slow at first. If I get a quick, aggressive reaction from the fish, then I’ll speed up the retrieve or give the lure sharper snaps with the rod tip to create commotion.”
Without feeding responses from increased retrieval speeds, he’ll slow down the plug again and pause the lure at key points near pier pilings, sand holes in a grass flat or irregularities along a shoreline.
“A steady twitching cadence is how I initially start working my jerkbaits, then vary from that speed according to how the fish react,” says Schultz. “That goes for most species, when casting suspending or ultraslow-sinking lures.”
Some species, such as seatrout, prefer specific actions, often hitting a lure at rest between pulls.
“For whatever reason, trout occasionally prefer the lure lying dead still, especially when water temperatures are extremely hot or cold,” says Schultz. “That’s the best time to throw a jerkbait. There’s something about a small profile and flash, hanging in the strike zone, that really triggers a reaction.”
Other species, such as Spanish mackerel, prefer a more aggressive, erratic action, especially if fish are actively feeding on or near the surface.
“I go with a fast retrieve during a surface-feeding fray,” says Schultz. “Usually the quicker you get your lure in there, the better. That goes for all types of schooling game fish.”