Soft plastic jerk baits such as the Zman Jerk ShadZ are incredible baits that truly will catch fish during all times of the year. While they work all year long there are definitely some peak periods throughout the year when these baits really shine.
When bass are spawning the soft plastic jerk bait is a great option. The key to what makes it so effective when fish are on the bed is the baits versatility. It is hard to fish a soft plastic jerk bait wrong, whether you are fishing it fast or slow it still imitates a baitfish of some kind. When the fish are spawning I typically like a slow but sometimes erratic retrieve, giving the bait one or two twitches and then letting it slowly fall to the bottom around individual spawning fish or over well-known spawning areas. We have all been there while sight fishing when a fish just truly does not seem to want to bite. This can be frustrating but a weightless soft plastic jerk bait can often turn a finicky uninterested fish into one willing to bite. Capture their attention by twitching the bait then let it settle to the bottom letting it sit for an extended period of time. In this situation even if you can't see your bait just sit back relax and watch for your line to jump or start swimming off.
Several things typically happen directly following the spawn that make a soft plastic jerk bait an excellent post spawn option. Across most parts of the country as the bass are coming off the bed the bluegill and the shad are generally just getting started where there spawn. A good majority of post spawn bass will spend some time recovering in shallow water after the long spawn while feeding up on the abundant bluegill and shad. If I am fishing around post spawn areas that are loaded with blue gill I typically fish a green pumpkin or a watermelon red flake weightless jerk bait. If I am fishing around shad that are spawning I will go with a pearl white or a shad colored bait. During the post spawn period you really need to let the fish tell you what to do. If you find fish feeding early in the morning that are schooling on shad crushing them out of the water I would work the bait fast occasionally letting it pause. Where if you are fishing around bluegill beds a slow twitch and long pause method will definitely get the job done.
Throughout the summer months the majority of the fish across the country spend their time on deep water structure, but as the days get shorter and the water cools down that all changes. Fall is a great time to pick the soft plastic jerk bait back up. I have found that skipping these baits around docks and shallow cover such as seawalls and rocks can be extremely effective in the fall. Generally I like to fish the bait fast in the fall searching for reaction strikes around shallow cover but a good long pause is absolutely never a bad idea.
I like to fish my soft plastic jerk bait weightless on a 4/0 Extra Wide Gap hooked rigged with the tex-pose method which you can find in this link: How To Tex-Pose Soft Plastics. I personally like fishing my weightless soft plastic jerk bait on a spinning rod so I can obtain maximum casting distance as well as being able to skip the bait up under cover. A 7' to 7'3" medium to medium heavy rod is perfect in my opinion with a 2500 or 3000 size reel. Spool it up with 12lb Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon and you are good to go. The only time I personally very my fishing line selection for this specific rig is if I am fishing the bait around vegetation. In that situation I like to use 30lb vicious braid with a 12lb fluoro leader.
Give the weightless soft plastic jerk bait a try during these peak time periods and you will be pumped with the results.
I'll see you on the water!!!