Tips for Catching Smallmouth Bass on Soft Jerkbaits

Having trouble netting smallies consistently? This is a problem we have faced at one time or another during our evolution as a smallmouth bass fisherman, especially during these hot months of summer when the fish become a bit more selective and less responsive to our baits. Following is a bit of information for catching smallmouth bass during the dog days of summer using soft jerkbaits or flukes, as many refer to these plastic artificial lures.

I have found the smallmouth bass in my area, and I suspect this is universally true, often ignoring the fast moving spinnerbaits and other similar presentations when water temperatures heat up. The fish are going to be deep where the water is several degrees cooler. Usually suspended around structure, drop offs, and other available cover. They are going to be more finicky in what baits look worth going after. This is why spinner baits that worked well during the pre-spawn post spawn period catch less fish. Plus you are going to lose more lures due to snagging on these deep underwater structures, where the smallies are hanging out. The top way to use soft jerkbaits during this time of year is with a vertical presentation.


Typically the best method and thus most productive is fished weightless with a 3 0 EWG hook deadstick or twitched in and around cover.  In river situations, you can throw it anywhere and let the current do most of the work or work it like a jerkbait. If you need to get the bait deeper, you can add a split shot or use a weighted hook . Another popular option is to nose hook the bait with a circle hook for great action on the bait and reduced risk of gut hooking the bait.

How To Work It

With a six to seven foot medium action rod, spinning reel or bait caster, you preference on this, and eight to twelve pound line you are now set to present the bait. Cast out to areas of cover, back eddys or where your instinct tells you looks “fishy”. If the smallmouth bass are suspended in ten to fifteen feet of water then allow the bait to vertically drop to their depth. Now start a two to three foot slow rise of the bait or a quick twitch and pause. The key is to twitch and allow the line to be slack afterwards. Expect a strike to come at any time as sometimes that fall triggers a strike but sometimes the twitch triggers it too.

Give this method a try next time the water temps are in the mid-eighties and up. The selection of soft jerkbaits is huge so carry a good selection with you. I have always had the best luck with the Sinking Salty Shad and SInking Salty minnows in some variation of white. Love them! Part of knowing how to catch smallmouth bass is mastering the many different conditions and how the fish react to these. Now you have another tool to add to your arsenal for catching smallmouths when no one else is!

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