UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Two winter classics: jerkbaits and finesse crankbaits

Scott Canterbury uses finesse crankbaits and jerkbaits when the water gets cold.

If you’ve ever picked ice from your rod guides, if you’ve ever pried Vienna sausages from juice that was more solid than liquid, if you’ve ever ignored the warning on a package of hand warmers and put them in creative places for fear you might lose life or limb, then you’ve probably spent a cold day or two in a bass boat.

And if you’ve bass fished in the extreme cold, then you’ve likely thrown a couple of wintertime classics –jerkbaits and finesse crankbaits. Few lures have the ability to tempt lethargic bass in the dead of winter to open up and say ahh like these two. But there are some subtle differences that set these techniques apart from one another.

One angler well versed with both jerkbaits and finesse cranks is Straight Talk pro Scott Canterbury. Fishing all over the country, and especially on his home water of Logan Martin in Alabama, Canterbury knows the ins and outs of these baits better than most anglers.



Finesse crankbaits work best when the water temperature hovers around 55 degrees.“It all starts with water temp,” said Canterbury. “I like to throw a jerkbait year round but a finesse crankbait like a Shad Rap or Soul Shad doesn’t work that well when the water temp gets below 52.

“I’ve caught them down to 48-degree water but the conditions have to be right. If the water is really cold, you’ve got to have a little cloud cover or some wind blowing. Those fish have to have some reason to be up near the bank feeding.”

Once the water drops below 48, Canterbury almost always picks the jerkbait of the two. And his rule of thumb for jerkbait fishing is “the colder the water, the longer the pause and the slower the retrieve.”


The where is the second determinant in choosing one or the other. Even when water temps are above 52 degrees, a Shad Rap doesn’t work everywhere all the time.

“You need to always keep contact with the bottom,” said Canterbury. “If I’m fishing a Shad Rap, I’m bumping it off rocks or shallow wood.”
A close look at Anthony Gagliardi's jerkbaits. The bottom lure is the Pointer 100 DD that did most of the damage.
The cutoff on water depth is about 4 to 6 feet since that’s as deep as most finesse crankbaits will dive. If you’re fishing a shallow pocket, go with the crankbait. If you’re paralleling a bluff wall, pick up the jerkbait.

“Sometimes if you’re fishing a 45-degree bank, you might find the fish right on the bank early in the morning and catch them on a crankbait. Then when you come back later in the afternoon they’re out off the bank suspended in 15 feet of water. That’s when you have to change up and catch them on a jerkbait.”


As with many techniques, matching the hatch is exceedingly important. Realism proves to be one of the main reasons both of these baits work so well in the winter. With water temps so cold, reaction strikes are hard to come by. Fish move slower in cold water and thus get a much better look at what you’re presenting.

“You can pause a jerkbait and let it sit right in the strike zone,” said Canterbury. “The shad move really slow in the winter and that’s one reason they’ll eat a jerkbait. It just sits there like a struggling shad. On windy, cloudy days, a finesse crankbait will usually outpeform a jerkbait.That’s also what makes a finesse crankbait so good. It has a really tight wiggle that looks just like a shad swimming off real slow.”

As long as shad are the predominant forage in your fishery, shad patterns are the best bet. If the water is really clear or really muddy, Canterbury will move away from shad patterns – using bright-colored jerkbaits in muddy water and crawfish-pattern crankbaits in clearer water.

“A crawfish scurrying along the bottom is going to get a reaction strike really quick,” added Canterbury.

And anything “really quick” when fishing in the cold is a good thing.



Always use monofilament line with a jerkbait. Fluorocarbon sinks and thus drags the nose of the bait down, throwing off the action.

When fishing a finesse crankbait in water below 55 degrees, Canterbury favors monofilament to fluorocarbon, as most fluorocarbon lines tend to get brittle in the cold.

Keeping constant contact with the bottom inevitably leads to a little wear and tear. Be sure to keep an eye on the line near the knot on your crankbaits and monitor your hooks, making sure they are always sharp.

Experiment with the retrieve of both baits with the understanding that the colder the water, the slower the retrieve. It’s often necessary to pause a jerkbait 30 seconds at a time and longer.

For finesse crankbaits, a 7-foot, medium-action spinning rod or a 7-foot, light-action casting rod rigged with 6- to 8-pound test works best.

A jerkbait works well on a 7-foot, medium-action casting rod rigged with line anywhere from 8-to-17-pound test depending on what you’re fishing the bait around and how deep you want the bait to go.

Adding led stickers to the belly of a jerkbait allows Canterbury to get his bait down in front of deeper fish. He has caught fish hitting bottom in 18 feet of water on Logan Martin.

If it’s calm and slick, the jerkbait works the best. If it’s cloudy and the fish are really biting, go with the crankbait because you are able to cover a lot more water with it.

Tags: shaye-baker  article 


FLW Podcast 128 - Mark Rose



1000 Islands Day 3 Midday Update



1000 Islands Midday Update Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands got started on a slightly different note this morning when FLW’s tournament directors declared Lake Ontario off limits due to hazardous conditions. The change threw a few of the top pros off their primary plans, but regardless the 137-boat field will be cut down to the top 10 after today, so adjustments need to be made in order to qualify to fish the weekend. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 126 - ICAST



2017 Walmart FLW Tour Schedule

In what has become an annual tradition at FLW, the 2017 Walmart FLW Tour schedule was announced at a press conference and industry gathering held Thursday on the show floor at ICAST in Orlando, Fla. READ MORE »


Si Se Puede ... Yes We Can

Mexico’s Lake Zimapan is different in many ways from the lakes to the north such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and California’s Clear Lake, but one element it has in common with those famous fisheries is big bass. READ MORE »


5 Rookie Lessons Learned

People have asked me what my first year on the Walmart FLW Tour was like. Well, it was like running headfirst into a hurricane for a few months. I came out the other side a little battered, bruised and smelling like fish. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 125 - Scott Martin



Review: Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Lite

Recently I had the opportunity to try one model in particular – the 7-foot, 4-inch Magnum Pitchin’ rod. After fishing with it several times, I’ve concluded that it performs as advertised, is sensitive and lightweight, and is well worth the money. READ MORE »


Reunited, and it Feels so Good

This year I really had a reunion with finesse fishing. Most of my better tournaments came from fishing some type of finesse presentation. Finesse tactics seemed to always give me a certain confidence about the day. While finesse tactics are nothing new to the game of bass fishing, this year I regained the confidence and joy of catching bass on smaller offerings. READ MORE »


2016 ICAST Preview

The doors to ICAST don’t open until next week, when everyone gets out on the showroom floor in Orlando, Fla., but there are already plenty of snippets of information available. FLW’s media crew will be there in full force to bring you coverage of the hottest new products, as well as the annual New Product Showcase awards. For now, take a gander at some of the early birds. READ MORE »


FLW Canada Kicks Off at Tri-Lakes

Among these Canadian all-stars was the eventual winning team of Chris Vandermeer of Peterborough and Jeff Slute of Millbrook. Capitalizing on a strong day one shallow-water smallmouth pattern, the duo took advantage of the slick-calm conditions using a silver-hued topwater popping plug to agitate the lake’s bronzebacks into attack. READ MORE »


FLW Tour Pro Cooksey Recovering After Accident

Walmart FLW Tour sophomore Dalton Cooksey of New Concord, Ky., is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee following a single-car accident that took place Wednesday afternoon. READ MORE »


FLW Podcast 124 - Jeremy Lawyer



Stetson Blaylock’s Recipe for a Wacky Rig

From March until the end of the fishing season I’m going to have a wacky rig on deck. It’s a really effective way to fish anytime the fishing is tough, or if the fish are up cruising banks. Anytime fish are about 5 feet deep or less, I can catch them on the wacky rig. READ MORE »


Morgan Claims third FLW Tour Angler of the Year Title

MINNEAPOLIS – Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to his incredible fishing resume by winning his third Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title Saturday at the FLW Tour's final 2016 regular-season event on Lake Champlain.... READ MORE »


Three Things by DD: Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake did not go the way I intended. I was pumped and ready to rock out a top-20 finish. I had great expectations of myself, but nothing seemed to come together. Practice was dicey, but I thought for sure I could put something together to make the cut. That was until day one came, and the whole vibe of my day instantly went from eager to agitated. READ MORE »


How to Catch Smallmouths with Hair Jigs

The “right” hair jig for smallmouths is a small 1/16- to 1/8-ounce marabou jig with a round or mushroom-shaped head. The jig is similar to marabou jigs used by crappie fishermen, but bass models will often have a larger, stronger hook and possibly a longer or thicker skirt. Naturally, anglers have their favorites, and there are subtle differences in jigs that make some better than others. READ MORE »


Two Exciting Events to Look Forward To

We are in the last stretch of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour. Awaiting us is the Lake Champlain tournament in just a few days. A couple of things will be settled there: the pro field for the Forrest Wood Cup and the Angler of the Year. READ MORE »


Tagging Along with Sprague in Kentucky

Through the first four events of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour season, Jeff Sprague finished inside the top 20 every time and challenged for the win at Beaver Lake. After stop No. 4 on Pickwick, Sprague took over the lead in the Angler of the Year race. This is the story of his first tournament as the AOY leader – stop No. 5 on Kentucky Lake. Currently, Sprague is preparing for the finale on Lake Champlain. He’s in second place in the AOY standings. READ MORE »