Card's Catch - Springtime Soft Jerkbaits

By Brandon Card

During the pre-spawn, my bait of choice is a jerkbait and during the post-spawn, I love to throw topwater. This is nothing out of the ordinary as just about every bass angler uses these techniques during those times of the year, but one thing I like to mix in during both of these periods is a soft plastic jerkbait like the Yamamoto D-Shad. I fish it as a complement to my hard jerkbaits and walking topwater baits.

Pre-Spawn

When the water is still cold and bass are staging to spawn, it is hard to beat a hard jerkbait. My favorite is the Duel Hardcore Minnow Flat 110SP in Ghost Tennessee Shad or Ghost Pro Blue. I use it and the Yamamoto D-Shad when the water is between 50-60 degrees. Personally, like to fish both of them fairly quickly.

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I fish the D-Shad in many of the places where I throw traditional hard jerkbaits; transition areas leading to spawning pockets, wind-blown banks, and rocky points are all perfect places to try during the pre-spawn.

The beauty of the D-Shad is that you can fish it deeper or shallower. A standard hard jerkbait has a fixed diving depth of about three to seven feet deep. You can fish the D-shad right under the surface if they are aggressive or let it fall down as much as you want before starting the retrieve.

Another nice thing about the D-Shad is that it has a Senko-like fall. As we know, the Senko shimmies as it falls and that is what makes it so deadly. The D-Shad does the same exact thing and I feel that is what really separates it from other soft jerkbaits. Many of my bites come right as it is falling, just like a Senko.

Post-Spawn

After the bass finish up spawning, I love throwing a Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil. I’ve had some high finishes in tournaments with it and have also caught some giants on it while out for fun. The D-Shad is a perfect complement to the Pencil for both missed fish and when they stop biting on top. I’ll fish both of them in standard post-spawn areas like bushes, docks, laydowns, and grass.

I find myself fishing it much closer to the surface during the post-spawn and also twitch it much faster than I do before they spawn. I always have one ready to make a quick cast when I am topwater fishing in case a fish misses it. I do the same when I am fishing a frog that a fish misses. Just cast into the hole where the flish blew up and let it shimmy down.

Gear Used

When I am fishing the Duel Hardcore Minnow Flat 110SP, 3DB Pencil or the D-Shad I use the same exact rod: a 7’ medium Abu Garcia Veritas, one of the most versatile rods I use.

I’ll also use the same reel, an Abu Garcia ALX in the 8.0:1 gear ratio. The only difference is the line I use. I’ll use 12lb Yo-Zuri Top Knot fluorocarbon for my jerkbait, 14-pound for my D-Shad and will use a 40-pound Duel Hardcore braid with a 20-pound Top Knot fluorocarbon leader for my walking topwaters.  I use a really short leader of the fluorocarbon and even though fluorocarbon sinks, I have found that a short leader does not affect the action of the bait.

The one exception to this is when I am using the D-Shad as a follow-up to missed frog bites, in which case I’ll beef up my rod and line. I’ll go with a medium heavy rod and 50-pound braid with a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader.

For the D-Shad, I use the Pearl White (364) color almost all of the time. I do use the Green Pumpkin (297) when fishing grass as a follow up to my frog bites. I have also experimented with different hooks for the D-Shad and have switched from an EWG style to a standard offset round bend in 4/0 as I feel that it hooks the fish much better.

The D-Shad is a very versatile bait during the spring and really complements a hard jerkbait and topwater. I have found that mixing it in when others are throwing the standard offerings can lead to more fish during the pre and post-spawn.