As the water cools in the fall many anglers chasing muskies turn to Jerk Baits to be more productive. Popular Jerk baits usually fall into one of three catagories...Dive and Rise...Gliders.... and Suspending random action styles.
Dive and rise baits like the venerable Suick, Bobbie, Wades Wobbler and the newer Big Daddy to name a few tend to run pretty straight with only a slight side to side action and the primary response to your rod manipulation is to dive on the pull and then rise...usually in reverse on the pause. Depending on how the bait is weighted it may even suspend a bit. These baits (also called "pull baits") work well in open water but really shine in late season weeds...they are surprisingly weedless and the backup action on the pause can really trigger inactive fish buried in thick cover. Most of these baits also troll really well with a lazy side to side action or can be also ripped with the rod tip while trolling.
Gliders tend to be neutrally weighted and will suspend on the pause, they are worked with a lighter touch and the goal is to either slowly "walk the dog" from side to side or you can work it more erratically using rapid twitches of the rod tip. A slowly worked glider can trigger fish that will ignore more aggressive presentations. Some popular gliders include..The Inticer, Phantom, Hughe River,Bobbie, Wabull, Manta and also some crossover baits like the Hellhound can be worked in a gliding style or really erratic. The key to working Glide baits is to use lighter taps of the rod and create slack line in between twitches to allow the lure to literally glide from side to side, often time fish will follow as if transfixed on the near hypnotic action of the bait....in that case spotting the follow early and speeding up the retrieve pace and cadence can be key to enticing a strike.
These baits can be worked around but not really in weeds and also excell in open water. Some of these baits actually troll at high speeds very well with a wide fast wobble that can really trigger bites from aggressive fish
Suspending baits with a more random action include the Hellhound, Reef Hawg, Jerko, and the B-FLat they can be worked either rapidly or slowly and tend to move in random directions on the pull...up , down, side to side and in between. The random action is the key and a good one can really make fish come unglued when nothing else seems to work. Experiment with adding weight to get the lure running deeper.....old timers still keep their Reef hawgs in buckets of water so they soak it up and become less bouyant...giving them a different action and keeping them closer to the bottom.
Tackle for these lures is a bit specialized....solid steel leaders still work the best, a moderate speed reel loaded with no stretch superbraid will transmit your twitches better and the best rod for Jerk baits may actually be the one you already own, Shorter rods have their place here...don't go too short or the hookset and ability to battle the fish will be comprimised but something in the 7-7.5' range is usually ideal with a few veterans hanging on to 6 footers........... "Just For The Jerks"
It would appear that fall is finally here, let a few Jerks into your boat and they might save you if things get a bit tough out there.