Photo: Ricky Bodsford
A soft plastic jerkbait is a bait that just about every bass angler uses at some time during the year. They work great in many situations and just catch fish.
California’s Brent Ehrler lead the first two days of the Bassmaster Classic this year fishing a Yamamoto bait and how he was fishing surprised many.
He was pitching a Yamamoto D-Shad to shallow cover and deadsticking it. He fishes the bait this and several other ways and says the key is how the bait is built.
Pitching the Yamamoto D-Shad
When talking about the Classic and his approach to using the bait, Ehrler said that a popular technique in Texas is to fish a soft plastic jerkbait around shallow cover and let it sit.
“It works great when the fish are spawning or really anytime they are around cover. It falls slower and has a different action than a bait like a Senko that many people use, but since it is Yamamoto is a dense bait that falls faster than other soft jerkbaits,” he began and added that the D-Shad combines the profile of a baitfish with the action of the famous Senko.
“It falls head first instead of horizontal like a Senko, but it still has the great quivering action.” He likened the fall to that of a tube bait that spirals as it falls. “That wiggle makes it look just like a little fish swimming,” he believes.
Ehrler fishes the bait with a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Superline hook and says that the thicker gauge of that hook helps to get the best fall when pitching the bait to cover.
His rod of choice is his signature series Daiwa Tatula Elite, a 7’3” medium heavy model that he pairs with a Daiwa Tatula SV and 14 to 18-pound Sunline Sniper.
“The line size is dependent on the lake, water clarity and cover. It’s a balance between getting the right fall and action of the bait and anything less than 14-pound won’t be enough to hook them with the Superline hook,” he says.
Double-Rig for the D-Shad
The double soft jerkbait rig or “Donkey Rig” as it is sometimes called is a great way to fish a D-Shad and you always have the chance at catching two fish at a time.
“I start with one swivel that slides up and down the line and then attach a swivel. Then you have two swivels and attach a leader, hook, and D-Shad to each one,” he says. The trick is to have the leaders tied at slightly different lengths, around 6-inches difference, to make the baits look like they are two baitfish swimming. “It has a really unique action and the baits are darting in different directions,” says Ehrler.
He fishes the double rig on the same setup he uses for pitching but generally uses 12- to 14-pound line.
Texas-Rigged for Jerkbait Presentation
One of the most popular ways to fish a soft plastic jerkbait is to fish it weightless on a Texas-rig. This is what Ehrler uses from spring to fall each year. “It is great when the fish are shallow and roaming around in the spring and again in the summer and fall when they are chasing bait,” he begins and says he fishes it much like he does a standard hard jerkbait. “I give it subtle twitches. Cast it out and work it just like a jerkbait.”
Usually, he is trying to imitate shad and will use a shad pattern or white, but does change it up when the bass are around the spawn. “The Bubble Gum color works great when the fish are on beds or just before and after the spawn,” says the Forrest Wood Cup champion.
The way Ehrler rigs the bait is a straightforward approach, a 3/O Gamakatsu EWG hook. “I use the lighter wire hook instead of the Superline to get a better fall,” he says. He fishes the bait on his signature series Daiwa Tatula Elite finesse baitcast rod. It is 7’ and rated as a medium/medium heavy and he adds the Tatula SV reel with 12 to 14-pound Sunline Sniper. The reel is designed to cast lighter lures further and coupled with the lighter baitcast rod, it has no problem casting a weightless D-Shad to schooling fish if he sees activity on the surface far from the boat.
There are many different ways to fish a soft plastic jerkbait and Ehrler says they also work great as a Carolina-rig bait.
The versatility of the Yamamoto D-Shad in all seasons is why he believes they can often be overlooked such as the way he used it at the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe. There really is no wrong way to fish these baits.