by Dustin Wilks . . .
During April, if there was junk food for bass, it would be the Culprit Skinny Jerk. Taunting “eat me” with every twitch of the rod, the Skinny Jerk was made for the Spring time.
When April water temperatures reach 65-73 degrees and stabilize with clear water, there is no better lure.
I like to fish this lure in protected pockets around spawning areas early in the month. Fish in all phases of the spawn are tricked into eating the Skinny Jerk.
Pre-spawn fish will eat for a short time in very shallow water before entering the spawn, where they will then focus on protecting the nest and fry from predators. The Skinny Jerk perfectly imitates a golden shiner or other predatory fish trying to sneak in and eat the eggs or fry.
Fish the Skinny Jerk on 15-20 lb. braid with a 3-6 ft.,12-lb. fluorocarbon leader. This set-up allows for positive hooksets and long casts and reduces bird nests on spinning gear.
I like to take a tiny piece of golfer’s lead tape and put it on the shank of the hook for balance and less line twist while twitching it. Experiment with the bend and different weights to find the action that is right for the day. If you go heaver like 1/16 or 3/32 with the molded-on lead hooks, then this lure has a deadly shimmy on the way down — this is great for deeper stumps and grass or really clear water where fish may spawn a little deeper.
Look for any cover in shallow protected areas — stumps and shallow weeds are prime cover.
Later in the Spring, bass will be focused on a different spawn — the shad or blue back herring spawn. They will usually pick a section of bank where shad are spawning, and the bass will keep focused on the bank waiting for the right moment to strike. The Skinny Jerk fished quickly on points and rocky banks or the sides of floating docks is the way to go. Pick shad colors for sure here.
If the water is stained or you need to fish faster during the shad spawn, add about one half of a Skinny jerk as a spinnerbait trailer — the skinny tail design has excellent action and has been successful for me many times over the years.
Make the Skinny Jerk your “go-to” bait this Spring!
Three Solid Techniques for
Soft-plastic Jerk Baits
1. Weightless Texas Rig – This is the most common way to fish the Skinny Jerk. If you have water with a couple feet or more of visibility, this is a strong choice. Fish will be targeting baitfish and the Skinny Jerk worked in a jerk/pause manner will trigger those fish to bite. If you see schooling fish, or live near a lake that has blueback herring, the Skinny Jerk is deadly. The standout feature of this bait is its great hook-up ratio compared to other soft jerk baits. The thinner body was tested extensively to not impede casting distance, yet allows easier hook-sets. A 4/0 wide-gap or off-set hook and 8- to 14-lb. line works well with this bait. Fish with light line if spinning rod used and up to 14 lb. line on a medium to heavy casting rod – whichever is your personal preference. With this bait, I often look for secondary points with sparse cover like a small rock or a stump. If you find one of the relatively featureless points with one piece of cover it is a magnet for any bass in the area and a great place to fish the Skinny Jerk.
2. Spinnerbait Trailer – In the fall, fish crave shad. If the water is a bit stained or even muddy, the spinnerbait is a great choice. Choose a baitfish-colored bait with matching Skinny Jerk trailer and you will see your bait come alive in the water. The skinny tail pulsates like no other on the back. Use this bait around shallow cover or slow roll around shallow creek channels and you are sure to tangle with some big fish. Fish on 16-20 lb. line and medium-heavy rod.
3. Drop Shot – The Skinny Jerk is a bit long right out of the pack for drop-shotting, but cut one in half and you have the perfect size, color options, and action for this simple technique. The key with drop-shotting is to not get too fancy. Use light line (6-8 lb.) with 3/16- to 3/8-oz. weight and you are off to the races with nearly any depth of water. I tend to fish the bait in clear water as a backup or small targets I see for fish unwilling to chase a weightless bait or spinnerbait this time of year.