Lake Fork Fishing Tips
From Lake Fork Guides
Soft Jerk BaitsArticle: March, 1999
This article will cover the use of soft jerk baits. There are many styles of jerk baits. The most popular is probably the wacky worm. A wacky worm is a regular worm with a hook run through the middle. Some people prefer to use a regular 2/0 hook with the point protruding through the middle of the worm. I prefer to use a 3/0 porko hook which has a wire weed guard. This will enable you to fish the bait through all kinds of structure. In this style of fishing you do not use any type of weight. After you have rigged the worm with the hook in the middle your first look at the bait will cause you to wonder why a bass would hit that . The primary reason that the bass strike this type of lure is because this is a do nothing style fishing. You will normally use this bait when the lake has had a lot of fishing pressure or right after a cold front. I fish this on fifteen pound clear trilene big game. There are a lot of people who will use a spinning rod because this bait is so hard throw. Sometimes after major cold fronts I switch to spinning gear also. When I do this I normally use eight or ten pound line just about any type of worm can be used wacky style. I use the zoom trick worm. The biggest problem in choosing a worm for this type of fishing is durability. The trick worm holds up good with a 3/0 porko hook. Some worms are way to soft and will tear up on the cast. Colors may very in different lakes. I prefer watermelon, it is a good all-around color for Lake Fork. In the spring I sometimes use a bubble gum color. The spring is a good time to use this style fishing. As the fish are more finicky from cold fronts and fishing pressure. I fish the bait along weed lines, stumps and trees, and the bank. I throw the bait out and let it sink and give it a few twitches and let it sink again. Sometimes I let the bait go to the bottom and let it lay there for a few seconds and start twitching again. When the fish get active sometimes just a slow constant pause and jerk will work. I keep a wacky worm rigged at all times during the spring . When the fish have moved into the coves and a major cold front moves through, the fish have a tendency to become lethargic. That is when the wacky worm is at its best.
Another bait that is a soft jerk bait is the bass assassin or fluke. This bait has gained popularity over the last three years on Lake Fork. Because of the short stubby body it is very easy to throw with a bait casting reel and light line. This bait can be thrown on very windy days with little or no problem. This bait can also be fished almost anywhere. I use a 3/0 wide gap hook and Texas rig the bait. The bait has a trough built into the bottom of the bait so that it can be fished weedless, since the hook is all the way through the bait this will help get a better hook set. During the spring when we get the green algae (SLIME GRASS) in the backs of most of the coves, this bait will come through it very easily. I normally fish this bait on fifteen pound line. I do not use a weight when fishing this bait. It is heavy enough to sink on its own. If you twitch this bait beside the boat and watch the erratic action you will understand why the fish hit it. You want to fish this bait in a manner that it looks like an injured bait fish. Normally, I use a twitch and pause retrieve. Sometimes after cold fronts the fish will move back and lockup on stumps or trees and suspend. I cast the bait past the tree or stump and retrieve the bait up to the stump and stop the retrieve and let the bait fall. Because of the slow fall normally, the fish will react and strike. You can fish this bait all the way out to 10 ft. of water with no problem. Again color is your preference.
Another soft jerk bait I like is the floating worm. This bait is very hard to throw because of its light weight. Normally you will have to use a spinning Rod with eight or ten pound line. I rig this bait Texas rig with a 1/0 or 2/0 hook. When the fish have started spawning and there are a lot of fish roaming in the coves that or either bedding or protecting fry I take a bubble gum floating worm and throw it along logs or stumps and twitch it several times and let it fall. The light wire hook that I use will cause the bait to sink very slowly. Normally, when I use this bait the fish are very active and the bubble gum color is only for sight. I fish this bait pretty fast on a stop and go retrieve.
I know that I preach heavy line most of the time but there are times when the eight or ten pound line has to be used. Remember that you have to get a bite before you can catch a fish. You will lose a lot of fish in the timber but that is just part of the floating worm.
I have covered only a few of the soft jerk baits that are available on the market. But these three or four are the ones that I normally use on Lake Fork. One thing that will happen when using these baits is that your line will twist whether you're using spinning gear are bait casting gear. So during the day you will have to cut the bait off and drag your line behind the boat to remove the twist. What I normally do is take one rod and used it primarily for any of these baits and change the line every two or three days.
When you fish these baits and you feel a strike or see your line swim off hesitate your hook set to allow the fish to suck the bait in. In the spring the fish will sometimes grab hold of the end of the baits and carry them away from their small fry or their bedding areas. You can use these baits any time during the year not just in the spring.
Thanks and Good Fishing,
by EX Lake Fork Guide Jim