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Jerkbaits for Open Water Bass with Forward-Facing Sonar

Few lures perform as well as jerkbaits for suspended bass, and the fall is no exception. Forward-facing sonar has and continues to evolve angling techniques and has repositioned the jerkbait from a lure viewed primarily as a cold water bait to a year-round mainstay. The effectiveness stems from combining a jerkbait’s freestyle nature with the ability to see the bait and bass respond to it in real time with forward-facing sonar. Wired2fish contributor, Scott Walsh, shares his method of finding open-water baitfish schools fast and how to trigger smallmouth using suspending jerkbaits.

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Walsh wastes no time on the water, especially in the fall when daylight is limited. He pops the boat up on plane and puts his high-speed transducer to work marking baitfish and dropping GPS waypoints so he can return to them. By covering water extremely fast, he determines where most of the baitfish are located in the basin and, consequently, the smallmouth.

Before the introduction of forward-facing sonar, the thought of trying to target suspended bass was mind-boggling to most. In this video, Walsh displays how easy it can be if you have the correct setup and equipment. Instead of fishing aimlessly, he casts his jerkbait to individuals and groups of suspended bass with speed and precision.

Wired2fish has covered sharp-shooting deepwater bass with heavy jigs. In comparison, a jerkbait might not seem ideal when firing at fish down in 20+ feet of water, but Walsh lets the fish be the judge. Watching them on Humminbird MEGA Live, it’s evident that a smallmouth has no issue traveling 25 feet vertically to crash bait in clear water. Walsh prefers to “unmatch the hatch” by using bright-colored jerkbaits, which stand out amongst thousands of young of the year smelt and call fish from extreme distances.