Tips for Fluke Fishing with Jerkbaits in the Back Bays

By leveraging the natural swimming action and appropriate size of jerkbaits, you can targets keeper-sized fluke in back bay areas traditionally fished with bucktails and Gulp.

Why Jerkbaits?

  • Size: Jerkbaits in the 4- to 5-inch range effectively weed out smaller fluke while mimicking the size of their prey.
  • Action: The erratic side-to-side “slashing” motion mimics a panicked baitfish, triggering reaction strikes from fluke.
  • Depth control: Unlike jigs that snag on the bottom, jerkbaits can be retrieved to stay in the strike zone, which is just a few feet above the bottom where fluke lie in wait.

Finding Fluke

Look for backwater areas with:

  • Warm, clear, moving water
  • Presence of baitfish like spearing, peanut bunker, or small scup
  • Structure such as boating channels near inlets, sandy flats adjacent to drop-offs, and deep holes along salt marshes

The Strike Zone

Fluke are not particularly picky feeders and tend to strike upwards. The key is to present the bait within a few feet above the bottom where fluke are cruising.

Rod and Reel Selection

  • Rod: A medium-action spinning rod with a fast tip is ideal for freshwater jerkbaits and can handle the head shakes of large fluke.
  • Reel: While Aye prefers baitcasting reels, spinning reels are also suitable, especially in saltwater environments to avoid sand intrusion.

Line and Leader

  • Braided line: 25- or 30-pound-test braided line provides good feel and control for jerkbaits.
  • Fluorocarbon leader: An 8- to 10-foot leader of 12-pound-test fluorocarbon is ideal, with an increase to 14-pound test when fishing around rocks.

Jerkbait Presentation

The retrieve should be slow and deliberate with long pauses between short rod tip twitches that make the jerkbait “walk” side-to-side. Minimal line tension is key to allow the jerkbait to dart erratically and mimic a fleeing baitfish.

Tackle Tweaks

Freshwater jerkbaits may require some modification for saltwater use:

  • Hooks: Replace treble hooks with size 1 Owner inline single hooks to improve hook penetration and landing percentage.
  • Split rings: Use strong split rings like Owner size 1/0 or 2/0 Decoy split rings to ensure hooks stay connected.
  • Weight: Some jerkbaits may float too quickly in saltwater. Add stick-on lead strips to slow down the retrieve.

While unconventional, fluke fishing with jerkbaits offers a productive technique to target keeper-sized fluke from shore in back bays. With a little experimentation to find the right retrieve and lure modifications, you can leverage this method to improve your fluke fishing success.

Images/Source: OnTheWater

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