Hangin' Jerk Baits...

It's S - L - O - W Good !

By John Myhre 2011

Slow RiseMost of the time when fishing for Muskies our lure speed ranges from moderate to fast. Yet slower presentations are often more effective, especially in the fall. But most lures simply won't function well at slow speeds.

A slow presentation will sometimes produce fish in the cold waters of late fall when nothing else seems to work. How slow is "slow"? I mean so slow it would drive the normal "run and gun" fisherman crazy. A slow lure retrieve has produced some big Muskies for me when all else fails. But. . . let me get a bit more specific.


Jerkbaits specifically can produce big fish action in the fall. But many popular jerkbaits are too buoyant and therefore need to be retrieved too quickly. Less buoyant models that "hang" during the pause between jerks are usually much more effective. The very best jerkbait will rise very slowly after being jerked down to depth.

Add WeightYou can slow down the rise of these buoyant baits by either adding lead weight or soaking them in water. When adding weight to your lures, take into consideration the fact that they often take on water as you fish them and will get heavier. This natural water logging decreases the overall buoyancy and rise of the bait. Baits should be weighted so they rise slowly in a slightly nose down attitude. Usually, if you drill a hole just in front or back of the front hook hanger and add the weight, your modification will be successful. Some anglers simply pound in or glue a large egg sinker into the drilled hole. Others pour melted lead into the spot. When melting lead, heat it just to its melting temperature, and no more. Drip the lead slowly but evenly into the hole. This prevents wood burning. When the hole is filled with molten lead, lightly tap it just as it hardens with the round end of a ball peen hammer. This compresses the lead in the drilled hole so it won't fall out. It also makes for a nice looking modification, when finished.

Jefk Bait CatchHangin' jerkbaits is a presentation that requires more concentration. You will often detect a strike by line movement or might even see a surface boil as a Musky takes the bait before you even feel it. keep your hooks extra sharp to insure hookups at these slow retrieves.

Start your retrieve by making 3 or 4 pulls to get the bait down as deep as it will go. Then, depending on how fast the bait rises, give a long pause as the bait rises. Before the bait breaks the surface, jerk it back down again with a series of 3 or 4 jerks. Some jerkbaits respond better and dive deeper with a series of short soft pulls rather than sharp jerks, so experiment to get the best action and deepest dive. A Musky will almost always strike as the bait nears the surface on the rise.

Jerk Bait ActionYou won't cover a lot of water with this presentation, so use it in high percentage areas where a big fish's location is fairly certain. Areas like inside turns or the tips of bars with steep breaks into deep water are typically good high percentage areas especially if there are schools of baitfish present. Also try hangin' a jerkbait over areas where you have seen a big fish or have consistently seen Muskies. Don't be afraid to throw a jerkbait over deeper water just outside these areas, too. I have occasionally caught some nice Muskies over 20 to 30 feet of water just outside these high percentage areas.

Try hangin' jerkbaits this fall. It just might catch a really big Musky.