Finesse Soft Jerkbaits – Not Just a Fluke

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Rob Lever of We Love to Fish Working a Fluke  - photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

Rob Lever of We Love to Fish Working a Fluke – photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

by Rob Lever

When you think of finesse fishing, what technique do you think about? When I was asked personally, I named a great technique that really shines both during the early spring pre-spawn months and also during the really hot summer days when you might find largemouth coming up and seeking a break from the sun under over hanging tree branches or docks came to mind. Using a soft jerkbait and light tackle is one of my favorite ways to fish and it can be especially productive when fishing gets generally difficult.

Fluke style baits have been around for a long time and fished under the right circumstances can prove to be very productive. This finesse style is not much different than other styles but does require a bit of patience and tweaking of your presentation. The important thing to remember is to fish as slow as you possibly can. Many times I have had the fish hit while the bait was just sitting on the bottom. Remember the tail on the Fluke is what is going to trigger the strike.

The first step to this set up is a good light action rod with enough backbone to help you get the fish out of some cover. I always start with a 7 foot Duckett Fishing Macro Magic medium action spinning rod. This rod is light and has the perfect sensitivity for feeling the difference between getting a bite or hitting some cover. The important thing to remember is to use a rod that gives you the ability to have accurate casts both to shore and isolated targets.

Perfect Soft Jerkbait Water - Overhangs and All -  - photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

Perfect Soft Jerkbait Water – Overhangs and All – – photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

Once you have picked out a rod it is important to pick a great reel to suit your needs. I pair my Duckett rod up with a Team Lew’s Gold spinning reel in the 3000 size. This real is extremely light with great castability and a really smooth retrieve. This is the perfect reel for the pre spawn period but in the hot summer months the Lew’s Speed Spin high speed reel in the 3000 size is amazing. The Speed Spin adds weight to the set up but when that big fish sitting under a dock makes a run toward the boat you really want the high speed to catch up with the fish. Since switching to the Speed Spin I have lost less fish during the summer months.

Your line and hook selection are equally as important as your rod and reel set up. With good sensitive line and no stretch you will not miss a lot of the strikes.   I use six-pound-test Vicious Fluorocarbon and pair it up with a size 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG worm hook. An important thing to remember is that your hook needs to be sharp and always check your line for nicks after every ten to twenty casts.   The last thing you want is to lose a fish because of a dull hook or your line snapping from a nick.

A Soft Jerkbait Taken Deep - photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

A Soft Jerkbait Taken Deep – photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

Now that you have your setup it’s time to fish. Boat control is important and always make sure your are keeping yourself in the strike zone for as long as possible. After each cast make sure you let the bait fall for a few seconds before you work the bait. Traditional fluke fishing calls for very erratic action but for this style it is good to just move the bait with really small twitches. After each twitch let the bait fall and begin to work the bait again after five to ten seconds. Most strikes come while the bait is falling to the bottom and once you feel the fish a simple sweeping hook set will get the job done.

Just like my reel selection changes for the season so does my fluke, and after years of testing I have found two kinds that really work well. The first drives the fish crazy during the early spring when the water is cold. Berkley’s Havoc The Jerk has a great subtle fall that is perfect when the fishing is slow. Each twitch makes the bait jump up for a second before a great slow rate of fall. It took a little while to get used to the motion of the Havoc but it is really great for pre spawners. The second Fluke that I use is the Zoom Super Fluke. Each twitch makes this fluke move its tail back and forth and gives it a great dying bait fish motion. Bass find this motion hard to resist and makes it my go to bait around docks and other isolated shallow water structure.

Color of your Flukes is also a simple choice and completely dictated by the water clarity. Clear water with great visibility calls for a black and blue Fluke and dark low visibility calls for a pearl color. I have been using both these colors for years and always a one of the two tied on at all times. One side note for color is on northern lakes that have herring running during the spring months. No matter the water clarity I always use pearl with a small change. I take a black sharpie marker and draw a line on the top of both sides. In most of these lakes the big bass are keyed in on the passing herring and this small change tricks many of them into think that the fluke is a small dying herring.

The Results of a Zoom Super Fluke - photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

The Results of a Zoom Super Fluke – photo by Laura Cowie-Haskell

Before you go try this technique for yourself there are a few last things to remember. One is to trust your drag and never muscle the fish to the boat. Remember you have six-pound-test line, which many big fish can break easily if rushed. This whole set up is designed to enjoy the fight of the fish.

Also be prepared to lose tackle. Many of your casts need to be as close to shore as possible and you will get hung up a ton. There are many days when I have three set ups just waiting to be used so not to waste time retying.

The last reminder is coming up with your own system for working the bait. Much like a normal jerk bait pattern the fish will dictate how they want the action. Don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with other speeds and types of cadence retrieves.   I always make sure I log how I worked the bait to figure out why it was successful. Many days I look back at what worked on similar days and change what I’m doing with much success.

Hopefully you have read this and put this in your arsenal. Tie on a Fluke and get out there and enjoy this very productive way to get fish in the boat.