About Randy; Bio—18 time Bassmasters Classic/FLW cup qualifier—two time BASS top 150 champion—BASS Elite 50 qualifier—3 time Central Pro-am champion—BFL All American qualifier—Costa Championship Qualifier—1.5 million in Career earnings.
- What water temperature are you looking for to throw a jerkbait?
My favorite water temperature depends on a few factors, but for traditional suspended jerkbait fishing, I like it between 40-50 degrees. For northern smallmouth bass fisheries, I like it between 55-65 degrees.
- How do you determine what color to use?
My jerkbait color depends on the sky conditions, water clarity and wind. I have no favorite color. I choose my color depending on how the bait looks in the water, I want it to stand out subtly, yet blend in to an extent. This takes experience. However, a good rule of thumb, is to use a flat finish on cloudy days, metallic finishes in stained water or on windy days, and translucent finishes on clear days. Ultimately, you have to listen to the fish to see what color they react best to.
- How do you choose between floaters and suspending jerkbaits?
I rarely use floating jerkbaits, but when I do, it’s usually in the spring, when I twitch them on top then let them sit. Sometimes I’ll reel them slowly to create a wake. Suspending jerkbaits make up 98% of my jerkbait fishing, and I’ll tweak the baits to suspend perfectly, rise or sink slightly, depending on what I need to achieve.
4. How do you pick between deeper divers and shallow Jerkbaits?
I fish both regular and deep divers. I’m mainly using deep divers in really clear water, when I want to get as deep as possible. This is usually in open water situations. I’d say regular divers make up 80% of my yearly jerkbait time. One thing to remember, is casting distance. This plays a huge role in your depth potential.
- How about cadence?
Cadence is one of the most critical parts of fishing a jerkbait and is why jerkbait fishing is one of the hardest techniques for an angler to master. Cadence depends on many factors such as water temperature, water clarity, wind, time of day, the species you are fishing for, and the overall mood of the fish. There is no rule on cadence. The best cadence can change from day to day with the fish. I generally start by reeling and jerking fast to get the bait down to its maximum depth. Once there, I’ll start with three short jerks, followed by a pause, then two short jerks. This works in a lot of situations. If not, I’ll experiment until I find what they are reacting to best.
- Often times bass will follow a Jerkbait without hitting it, what tricks do you use to entice these fish to hit?
If the bass are tracking your bait to the boat without striking, the biggest thing you can do to trigger them is to speed up the cadence. You have to make them react to the bait. The next thing I would do is to change colors. Finally, a change in jerkbait size might do the trick.
- What line and knot do you prefer?
I use Seaguar Invixz fluorocarbon for all of my jerkbait fishing, and tie it with a double uni knot. I’ve experimented with many different lines and knots, and this combination is the one I’ve found to be the best.
- How about rods, length, power and action?
Unlike most anglers, I use a spinning rod 95% of the time for jerkbaits. I do this because I can make a longer cast in the wind, use lighter line, put better action on the bait, and to have better feel. I use two different rods, the Megabass Orochi Dropshot and Stinger shot rods. These are both 6’10” rods, which I feel is ideal for jerkbait fishing. On the rare occasion I do use bait casting, I’ll use the Megabass Orochi jerkbait special rod. The only time I’ll use a bait cast rod is if I’m power fishing a jerkbait fast around shallow, heavy cover and don’t need the depth.
- Do you fish differently depending on species, Largemouth vs Smallmouth vs Spotted Bass?
Largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass will react differently to a jerkbait depending on the geographical area of the country. On lakes that sport strong populations of all species, they usually will react the same, and you catch a mixed bag without changing anything. In southern waters with mainly largemouth, they bite a jerkbait best with little to no pause on a medium speed retrieve and cadence. In northern waters with mainly smallmouth, they want the bait fast with basically no pause. Again, these are generalizations, and each situation may present a unique approach.
- We often hear about slack line when Fishing Jerkbaits, can you explain this a little bit?
Fishing a jerkbait on slack line is often associated with a long pause. This allows the bait to float naturally during the suspending time. I prefer to stay in contact with my bait, and don’t use a slack line much other than when the water is very cold and has some color. Under this situation, a long pause with a slack line is the best approach.
- Does wind play a role in your Jerkbait Fishing?
Wind is another very crucial factor in jerkbait fishing. Under most situations, wind helps, especially the clearer the water. My ideal wind speed is about 10 mph. I want the surface broke up. The exception to this is in stained water, say under 15 inches visibility. Under these conditions, I prefer little to no wind.
- Jerkbaits are known to quickly cover a lot of water, do you ever slow down and fish structure with them?
Jerkbaits are great to cover water, but they also excel around cover. Hard cover, like docks, concrete pilings, stumps or big rock are ideal ambush points for bass, and I’ll slow down around them.
- Many anglers use a Jerkbait as a backup for a top water bait. Do you have a backup bait for your Jerkbait and if so what is it?
I do use a backup at time for my jerkbaits, especially in clear water with smallmouth bass. In this situation, I’ll have a Zoom trick worm tied on wacky style, and drop it vertical under the boat when I miss strike or see a follower.
- In what situations would you not use the Jerkbait?
About the only situation I won’t use a jerkbait is around heavy cover in stained water. A jerkbait is a sight bait for the most part, and they will just not bite it well in these conditions.
- For an Angler just discovering Jerkbait Fishing what tips as far as lure selection would you give them?
For the angler just starting out with jerkbaits, I’d suggest the most popular jerkbait in the country which is a Megabass vision 110. This lure is easy to cast and will catch fish in nearly every lake or river in the country.
- What tips can you give for the co-Angler Fishing behind a boater throwing a Jerkbait?
The best advice to give to a co-angler fishing a jerkbait, is to cast straight behind the boat. That give them the best angle, and it’s all about the angle. The biggest mistake co-anglers make when fishing a jerkbait or any other bait, is to try and cast anywhere upfront. The angle is not there, and they infringe on the pros water.
- What’s your favorite lake for Jerkbait Fishing?
I’d say my two favorite jerkbait lakes are Stockton lake in Missouri and Lake Champlain in Vermont. You can catch numbers in the middle of the winter at Stockton, and big smallmouth at Champlain in the summer and fall.
- What are some other species besides bass that you’ve caught on Jerkbaits?
I’ve caught nearly every freshwater species on a jerkbait. Bass/white bass/stripers/crappie/catfish/walleye/pike/Muskie/and perch. It mimics a minnow, and all fish feed on minnows.
- What is the one Jerkbait that you have the most confidence in?
My no. 1 confidence jerkbait would be a pro blue Megabass Vision 110. This bait is like green pumpkin in soft plastics. It will work anywhere.
- When not on tour, you run a guide service specializing in Jerkbait instruction, how can our readers contact you to book a trip?
I run instructional jerkbait fishing trips on Table Rock/Grand/Bull Shoals/Stockton/Lake Ozark and Beaver lake. On these trips I show my clients all my tips and tricks with jerkbaits, what type of water to fish them in, and in general have a fun day on the water.
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Randy is sponsored by: Bridgford Foods, Megabass, Zoom, Ranger/Mercury, PowerPole, Seaguar, Gamakatsu, Stormr and Solar Bat.