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Fishing with jerkbaits can be an incredibly effective way to catch fish, especially when the conditions are just right. As an experienced angler who has been fishing with jerkbaits since I was a kid, I've learned a lot about what it takes to get the most out of this type of bait. And in my opinion, the most important thing to keep in mind is the equipment you're using.
First and foremost, it's crucial to have a good quality rod. When fishing with a jerkbait, you want a rod that has a handle that is not too long, so it doesn't get caught in your stomach or chest. At the same time, you need a rod that is long enough to make a good cast. The ideal rod for fishing with a jerkbait is one that has an extra-fast tip and a lot of backbone. I prefer to use a graphite rod for this type of fishing, and my go-to choice is a 6'10" medium-heavy rod, specifically a GC2. For those who are a bit shorter, a 6'8" version of the same rod may work better.
Another key piece of equipment when fishing with a jerkbait is the reel. The biggest mistake that I see anglers make when fishing with a jerkbait is that they don't have enough slack in their line. If you're constantly reeling and keeping the line tight, it doesn't allow the bait to have that side-to-side, erratic action that is so effective. To avoid this, I never pull the jerkbait towards the boat with the reel. Instead, I use the rod to create slack in the line, and then use the reel to pick up that slack line. For this reason, I like to use a reel with a faster gear ratio, such as a 7.5:1.
In addition to the rod and reel, the type of line you use is also very important when fishing with a jerkbait. I strongly recommend using fluorocarbon line, as it is low in stretch and virtually invisible to fish, even in the clear waters where I like to fish. Depending on the depth zone I'm targeting, I'll use different line sizes, with 12-pound line being my minimum and 14-pound line being my favorite.
All of these pieces of equipment - the rod, reel, and line - are critical to getting the most out of a jerkbait. When you have the right gear, you'll find that you're able to make longer casts, create more erratic action in the bait, and ultimately catch more fish. Having the right equipment is the difference between catching a few fish and catching a bunch.