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RichD913

Moving Baits, Hard vs. Soft

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I have a pack of havoc "the jerk" soft plastics, they look great in the water, but my question is, under what circumstances would I use these instead of my hard jerk baits and why, and while I'm at it, same for the KVD flukes, why those over a crank bait of some sort? 

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So basically why use a soft plastic jerk bait over a crank bait ? 

Well I use them for a few reasons. The biggest one (for me) is the ability to fish it weedless. I can get a fluke where a crank would be near impossible to use. 

Second, the action is much , much different.. it's completely different.  A crank bait for the most part has a fairly consistent action.. where as a fluke darts every which direction which ive found to be very appealing to bass.. (and crappie) . 

I also like to "dead stick" the fluke. Which is also very effective.  You can also wacky rig them.. put them on a jig head. Or drop shot. Very versatile bait.. that I suggest you don't over look.. because they definitely have their place. 

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It all comes down to preference since some people can get a crankbait through and over some nasty stuff, but it takes alot of practice. Flukes are easier to fish imo because you can let them sink on slack line and still see and feel strikes, but I always try working a hardbait first if I can to pick off active fish since I seem to do better reeling a crankbait or waking a jerkbait faster than say working a fluke fast.

I have used paddle tail swimbaits more this year than any year before since I can use them with a light weight, no weight, jighead (Snapping a paddle tail swimbait off of grass like a rattle trap can be very good and I find that I only use Crankbaits when they are easy to use (Which probably explains why I do not consider a crankbait one of my top tools). I prefer swim jigs, chatterbaits, instead of hardbaits but.......

If I can fish a weedline or place a Floating Minnow bait like a Rapala or long a Right on the edge of structure, I will slow down and really try to fish it since I find hardbaits will often catch bigger fish for me. 

One of the things I have learned this year is you can take a fluke like the Havoc brand (Never used it but the Caffiene shad is similar in design) and I have been catching fish putting them on a scrounger head and fishing them on bottom. I almost gave up on the Scrounger but I forced myself to keep using it when I knew active Fish were in the area instead of going the same ways I always do, and I am glad I kept at it because I have finally gained confidence in the scrounger.

It all comes down to preference, but I am noticing using different methods than other people like the scrounger with a fluke or sluggo is a big fish bait, just takes a long time to learn the ways to trigger strikes. I am still learning but I believe in the theory that you want to give fish a new look, most lakes and ponds I fish see the same baits over and over, I notice that Senko's are not effective in many places they were 2 years ago..Same with toads, I catch more fish running a paddle tail near the surface than I do on a horny toad....I guess my point is to try both. If you can get good at feeling weeds ticking a crankbait without getting snagged, that is a great skill to have. I have gotten crushed by other people who were really good with placing a crankbait in pefect spots and getting it back clean in areas I worked with other baits and I will try the same technique and not catch fish because I am simply not as good at doing it. 

I always give surface feeding fish the first chance but in my waters I am rarely fishing over 6' deep. To me that is texas rig/weightless plastic areas. Just easier and usually just as effective. 

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They do have different actions, but the main reason I choose one over the other is the cover, or lack of, that I'm targeting.  If I can present a hard jerk bait above the top of the weeds, I'll go with it over a fluke type. It offers more flash and it reacts differently with each jerk. It also doesn't sink when paused. For me, the hook-up ratio is better with a hard bait mainly because I have a tendency to immediately set the hook when fishing Flukes and will miss some fish. Fishing a Fluke, for me, is reserved for targeting grass, or when I want a shallower or deeper presentation than the running depth of a hard bait.

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Flukes work better for me in clearer water.  I like to work them across the top of the milfoil.  I use crankbaits when the water is dirty or muddy.  I think the rattles help the fish find the bait.

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I don't like the hardbaits in cover because of all the trebbles. Now skimming a fluke or fluke type plastic close to the top and bumping the cover can be deadly....the bass feel the vibration from whatever you hit, they look up and TIGHT LINES!!

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When I fish for smallmouth in the river I love using a soft plastic jerkbait and it is a killer. There are certain times however that call for a hard jerkbait, like when the fish are just swiping at the bait, it is very hard to get a hook in them with the soft bait because they are hitting to kill and not eat. The hard bait usually hooks those slashing fish, and another time I use hard over soft is when the fish want it fast, I have that happen a lot more. The fish will rush up to the fluke and if you keep going the bait will come to the surface, sometimes they will crush it like that but in clear water under sunny skies they will often turn away, the hard bait I can work it fast enough to draw a strike and it will stay in the strike zone. The exact opposite makes me use a soft plastic jerkbait over the hard, and that is when the fish don't want to chase, the slower presentation will do better.

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I won't give as complete of an answer as those first few, but here I go anyways. I use hard jerkbaits in early spring, or when bass are suspending. I only use soft jerkbaits as a finesse presentation to throw whenever I miss a strike, especially for topwaters. I also sometimes use a weightless or wacky rigged senko in place of the fluke. 

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