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Deep Thinking for Soft Plastic Jerkbaits

Article: August, 2008
 Lake Fork Pro Guide Tom RedingtonWeightless soft plastic jerkbaits are the first thing many anglers reach for when bass are shallow, especially in the spring. Baits like Magic Shads, Live Magic Shads, and Senkos are deadly in the shallows because of their slow quivering fall and their erratic action when twitched. Deep fish love the action of soft plastic jerkbaits just as well, provided you get the bait down to them. Following are a few ways that I fish weighted soft plastic jerkbaits in deep water.

The easiest way to fish most any soft plastic in deep water is on a Texas or Carolina rig. Carolina rigs are especially good because the large sinker carries the bait to the bottom quickly, while the leader between the sinker and hook allow the bait to fall slowly and naturally after each pull of the rod. Texas rigs also work well, and rigging a Magic Shad on a Texas rig will give the bass a different look than normal. Or for a more finesse approach, jig heads on light line are another great way to fish soft plastic jerkbaits in the mid-depth areas or even out on the deepest structure. Furthermore, you can rig just about any soft plastic jerkbait on a drop shot rig and shake it around out deep. While Twitch Worms are my standard for the drop shot, 3.5” Live Magic Shad and Swimmin’ Slugs produce fantastic action and bigger bass.

In addition to more traditional methods, the ever expanding variety of weighted hooks creates a perfect way to present soft plastic jerkbaits to deep fish. Hooks like Lake Fork Tackle’s Ultimate Swimbait Hooks have a small weight that is located in the keel. This weight helps the bait fall faster, while the keel position maintains a horizontal position on the drop (as opposed to a nose down position with a Texas rig). These baits work exceptionally well for bass that are suspended in deep timber or hanging around deep weedlines. Moreover, weighted hooks also help when fishing shallow on windy days.

Fishing a soft plastic jerkbait on a weighted hook is pretty easy. Depending on the size of the bait, I’ll rig a Magic Shad, Live Magic Shad, Swimmin’ Slug or Ring Fry on a 3/0 to 5/0 Ultimate Swimbait hook or similar weighted wide gap hook. 10 to 20 lb P-Line fluorocarbon is my line of choice for this rig because fluorocarbon is denser than mono and sinks quickly, while remaining less visible to bass. I use 10 lb test in more open water or on pressured fish, while line up to 20 lbs works best for big fish around wood cover. Cast the lure to your target and let if fall on slack line. Slack line allows the bait to fall straight down instead of swinging back towards the boat, plus it’ll produce a more natural action from the lure. As with any soft plastic jerkbait presentation, about 75% of your bites will come on the initial drop, so be ready to set the hook if the bait suddenly stops dropping or if your line goes to the side. Once your bait reaches the bottom (or the desired depth if you are counting it down to suspended fish), vary your retrieve to trigger the fish. A steady twitching retrieve with a few pauses often works well, although some days a couple twitches and letting the bait fall back to the bottom is better. Mix up your retrieve and let the bass tell you what they want.

Shallow or deep, soft plastic jerkbaits are top fish catchers. If you’re not using them in deep water, give them a try and I think you’ll like the results.
Good Fishing,

Fishing Tip by  Lake Fork Pro Tom Redington


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