jerkbait soft plastic lure

Soft Jerkbaits: A Fantastic Bait For Big Fall Bass

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Last week, I published an article that revealed 6 fantastic baits that can take your fall bass fishing to the next level.

I loved writing that article – it introduced some of my absolute favorite lures, such as the crankbait, spinnerbait, and the bass jig (my personal favorite).

However, as great as each lure is, there is one in particular that is a bass fishing heavy hitter every fall for me and many other anglers.

I’m talking about the soft jerkbait.

Welcome back once again to Jig Is Up Lurecraft!

Today I will be unveiling what makes soft plastic jerkbaits so special and two ways you can rig soft plastic jerkbaits to boost your fall bass fishing!

What is a soft jerkbait?

Soft jerkbaits are soft plastic fishing lures that are long and slender, generally in the shape of a minnow or a shad.

These baits are typically anywhere from 2 inches long to 5 inches long.

Although soft jerkbaits are sold in many different colors, the most popular colors include white and silver (my favorite is a two-toned silver color called Smokin’ Shad!).

These white and silver colors are meant to mimic the natural, lighter tones of the baitfish and shad that bass feed on.

What makes soft jerkbaits so special?

As mentioned previously, bass gorge themselves on shad and other baitfish in the fall.

Yellowfin shad piled onto a table
Yellowtail Shad

Since they are incredibly realistic at mimicking baitfish, soft jerkbaits are one of the most effective lures to take advantage of this feeding frenzy.

As if that wasn’t enough, soft jerkbaits can also be fished several different ways. This provides a lot of versatility for anglers who choose to use them for their fall fishing.

For instance, pro anglers use them on weighted jigs to comb the watery depths. 

This allows them to put the bait in front of the bass hanging out on the bottom. They keep the bait there, slowly moving it up and down until a bass commits and inhales it.

In addition to that presentation, pro anglers also twitch and jerk these baits in shallow water to quickly and efficiently search for roaming bass. 

These sharp jerks and twitches mimic a fleeing baitfish and are especially effective at triggering a bass’s natural instincts and inducing them to strike.

Now that I’ve briefly described what a soft jerkbait is and what makes it so special, let’s dive into two ways you can rig a soft jerkbait so you can use it to catch fish!

Two ways to rig a soft jerkbait

The Weightless Jerkbait

The weightless soft jerkbait is one of my favorite lure presentations for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

smokin shad soft jerkbait rigged weedless with a driftwood background

To start with, the rigging for this presentation is very simple (that’s part of why I like it!).

Simply tie on an EWG worm hook. 

Then rig the soft jerkbait onto the hook, weedless-style.

Do so by poking the hook point straight into the nose of the bait for ¼”. 

Then bring the hook point out through the bottom of the jerkbait. 

Now you can slide the nose of the jerkbait up to the eye of the hook. 

To finish rigging, poke the hook point through the bottom of the jerkbait up to the middle of its back.

Make sure the soft jerkbait is rigged straight on the hook, and now it is all ready to fish with!

This presentation is fantastic because the hook is not exposed. Thus, it does not get hung up on grass and wood while you are fishing.

This glorious fact is why I use weightless soft jerkbaits extensively on grass lakes.

There, I can twitch and jerk the bait over oodles of weeds and grass clumps and induce bass to bite without getting hung up!

Bass caught with a white soft jerkbait

Many anglers use a Zoom Super Fluke with a 3/0 EWG worm hook for this setup.

Using this combination, you can easily fish this bait on 10 or 12 pound line on either spinning or baitcasting gear.

As a finesse fisherman, I downsize this presentation. A Smokin’ Shad Zoom Super Fluke Jr. with a 1/0 EWG worm hook is my bread and butter. 

Using this downsized setup, I’ve caught plentiful numbers of both smallmouth bass and largemouth bass.

The Soft Jerkbait On A Ballhead Jig

A soft jerkbait can also be rigged on a simple ballhead jig for fishing deeper water.

soft jerkbait on an unpainted ballhead jig

Unlike its weightless counterpart, this setup utilizes an open hook.

Although this means it cannot be fished as easily in grassy areas, the open hook does more easily catch finicky bass in areas without grass.

For instance, pro angler Jason Christie famously employed a 3/16 oz ballhead jig with a Yum Sonar Minnow soft jerkbait to bag several of the fish that propelled him to a Bassmaster Classic victory in 2022.

Reportedly, Christie found dozens of bass dwelling at 30 feet below the surface and was able to induce several to bite by slowly swimming the soft jerkbait down in the depths.

When I rig a soft jerkbait this way, I typically use a ⅛ oz unpainted ballhead jig with a Zoom Super Fluke Jr.

The ballhead jig I make myself, using a Do-It Weedless Ballhead Jig mold and a Victory 11149BN jig hook.

The Weedless Ballhead mold is the first jig mold I ever used, and remains my favorite jig mold.

Not only do I use it for finesse bass jigs, I also use it to make small jigs for crappie fishing!

Want to learn how to make your own jigs?

Then check out 👉 this article.
It teaches you everything you need to know about making your own awesome ballhead jigs!

My Suggested Retrieve

Again, this is a presentation I use with spinning tackle to swim a bait below the surface.

To maximize your own fishing success, I suggest gently reeling the bait in and then letting it fall. 

The falling motion closely resembles a dying baitfish slowly fluttering down to the bottom. Bass can’t stand that fluttering motion, it drives them wild! 

After letting it fall for 4 or 5 seconds, slowly reel in again to swim the bait back towards you a few feet. Then let it fall again.

Repeat this back to you, and you are sure to get a bass to commit!

Conclusion – Soft Jerkbaits: A Fantastic Bait For Big Fall Bass

Soft jerkbaits remain a staple for fall bass fishing.

Not only are they incredibly effective at mimicking baitfish, but they are also both remarkably versatile and simple to use.

Weightless soft jerkbaits are one of my favorite presentations for both smallmouth and largemouth fishing.

With that said, putting a soft jerkbait on a ballhead jig unlocks the bass bite in deeper water for many anglers.

Give both these presentations a try this fall and you are sure to catch bass!

Have you caught bass with soft jerkbaits before? Leave a comment below about your experiences with soft jerkbaits!

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