A whole lot of jerkbaits will be flying through the air this weekend at places like Geist and Patoka. I imagine it will be that way all over the state for the next several weeks. As such, I thought it would be good to give a quick refresher on jerkbait physics so everyone understands what is happening with their baits.
In particular, let's look at floating and sinking tendencies, as well as the nature of suspending jerkbaits. You can do what I did, if you want, to replicate this and see exactly for yourself. Simply fill up a large bucket or other container with water of varying degrees, then drop your baits in there and see what happens. In this case, I used a very wide range of water temps (42 - 110 F) to try and exaggerate these differences. Every bait, at a given temperature, will either float, sink, or suspend somewhere in the water column. What you need to know to be a more effective jerkbait angler is how to adjust for whatever a particular bait happens to do. Here are the basics;
- The colder the water, the slower a bait will fall through the water (if your jerkbait sinks), or the easier/faster it will rise if a floater.
- The warmer the water, the faster your sinking bait will fall through the water, or the slower it will rise back to the surface if a floater that is pulled under.
So, for example, in any given water temperature, if you have a bait that sinks slowly instead of suspending, you can A) mark that bait to be fished in colder water temps, B) change out the hooks to some that are slightly thinner and lighter, C) increase the size of your line to create more drag, or D) use a mono or braided line instead of fluorocarbon.
On the other hand, if you are fishing a bait that has a tendency to rise slightly, you either can, A) weight it slightly with suspend strips/dots, B) increase the size of a treble or two to add weight, C) Change to fluorocarbon line (if not already using it), D) or mark the bait to be used in warmer water temps.
As an interesting side note to demonstrate this concept and how it applies to many more things than just jerkbaits in water. I know a guy who is a small aircraft pilot, and he recently recalled the following story:
"Back in the 80s, a 747 is flying over the Pacific. The pilots had not noticed that the air temp was rising. The normal temp at 35,000 ft. is about -40. The temp rose to -25. Even though it's cold, the change in temp changed the density of the air so much, the plane literally fell about 10,000 ft. before it reached dense enough air to sustain flight at their weight."