The Almighty Fluke
A soft jerkbait is the most versatile bait in your tackle box.
It really is a simple fishing lure. It doesn’t require a high degree of skill to make a fish eat one, and right now — with a strong postspawn bite happening on most Georgia waters — it can be one of the most productive and versatile weapons in your arsenal.
It will catch bass in your local farm pond, in the river that runs behind the house and even at the big reservoir a short drive away. I’m talking about the almighty fluke. Chances are you’ve probably got several bags of these soft-plastic baitfish in your box. Now it’s time to learn a little more about this tackle box staple, which is the bane of almost every black-bass species that swims.
The fluke, or soft jerkbait, comes in many different shapes and sizes, and quality versions are made by several different companies. Decide what works best for you, and load the tacklebox with them. Because once the bass start eating your fluke, you’ll want to have plenty in the on-deck circle.
I picked the brains of some of our best local fishermen to find out how they’ll use flukes on their home waters in May. There are a bunch of different applications for flukes, a few of which you might not have even thought of, and chances are a few of them will work where you fish.
“Turn and Burn” a Double Fluke For Lake Allatoona Bass
Since you read GON, you’ve probably seen the name Matt Driver. He is an excellent fisherman who considers Allatoona his home lake. You will frequently find his name toward the top of the leader board at Allatoona tournaments. Matt knows his stuff, and when it comes to fishing Allatoona in May, you better believe he’ll have a fluke tied on.
Matt prefers the Big Bite Jerk Shad in white with a little blue on it, and he’ll go with green pumpkin on cloudy days. He likes to use a method he calls the “turn and burn,” which should work well for the strong postspawn bite on Allatoona in May.
Matt said the water should be clearing by this month, and that only helps the fluke bite. He said you want to keep the fluke moving with an erratic action, twitching, popping and letting the bait dart all around in the water column.
You don’t want bass to get a good look at the bait. That’s why you keep it moving.
Matt prefers to throw his flukes on a high-speed baitcasting reel with 12-lb. Sunline fluorocarbon. He likes the fluorocarbon line because it has very little stretch and is super strong. He fishes his Jerk Shad weightless on a 3/0 or 4/0 extra-wide gap Gamakatsu hook, and he skin hooks it, which means he just barely brings it back out of the top of the fluke and tucks the tip of the hook back into the plastic’s back.
Matt will also use a double-fluke rig in May. Using a three-way swivel, he ties his main line into one of the eyes and two flukes on 3/0 hooks with leaders off the other two eyes. He makes both leaders of the same fluorocarbon, one a foot long and the other about a foot and a half.
This setup allows him to fish two baits at the same time and makes the flukes look like a pair of baitfish escaping from a predator bass. At times the baits will criss-cross each other, which gives off a great action. Matt said not to be surprised if you hook up with two feisty bass at the same time on this rig.
The bass on Allatoona will be on a postspawn pattern by May, and Matt likes to throw his Big Bite Jerk Shad to blowdowns and other off-shore structure where the bass hang out to regain their strength from the spawn. He will hit these spots for the first couple hours of the day and then return to them in the evening. He will cover a lot of water through the middle of the day in search of active fish. Allatoona has a good population of largemouth and spotted bass, and even though it seems the spots are taking over, there are still some quality largemouths in this lake.
So, don’t get all sad because you didn’t get to fish as much as you wanted to in April. Get out there on Allatoona, and use these fluke tactics to put a bend in your rod. Or give these tactics a try on your favorite reservoir.
Check out Matt’s radio show “Pro Angler Radio” online at <www.3doutdoormarketing.com>.
Get Down With It For Carters Lake Bass
When people talk about Carters Lake, they normally mention three things: The pretty mountain scenery, the fat-bellied spotted bass and Louie Bartenfield, a man who is absolutely dialed into the fish there.
Louie has guided full-time on Carters since 2004. He grew up on the lake and specializes in teaching sonar interpretation, graph orientation, sonar sight-fishing and clear-water techniques on deep-water structure.
Louie’s top three ways to fish a fluke on Carters in May are all designed to get the bait down. Carters is a deep and clear lake, and you have to get your bait down to the fish.
A fluke, in white or baby bass, threaded on a Fish Head Spin is his No. 1 option. Louie likes to fish this setup all year long, but it can be downright deadly when the bass are in a postspawn pattern and hanging out over humps and deep brush.
Louie throws the Fish Head Spin around transition areas and known spawning flats. He looks for gentle slopping areas with gravel or sandy bottoms, and he varies the retrieve. He yo-yos it, burns it, and sometimes he’ll slow roll it.
No. 2 would be the jig-head fluke using ball-type jig head, almost like a shaky head. Louie threads his shad-colored fluke on a 1/8- or 3/16-oz. jig head and fishes it on a spinning reel. He’ll throw a 1/4-oz. jig-head fluke on a baitcaster if he needs a little more weight to get it down faster or when fishing in high wind or current. He uses 10- or 12-lb. fluorocarbon for both setups. Louie said to make a long cast with the jig-head fluke and then to give it a hard snap as it falls.
He will fish it out to 25- or 30-foot depths targeting isolated cover such as rock, brush and stumps. The spots can and will bed out to 30 feet, so he also catches bedding fish with this setup.
Louie’s third-favorite way to fish a fluke on Carters is sight-fishing with a drop shot. Yes… I did just say drop shot and sight fishing in the same sentence. It does sound a little weird but not to Louie. He’s been winning tournaments and putting clients on monster spots for years with this technique.
Louie will locate schools of fish on his sonar and then sit right on top of them and drop down a 3- or 4-inch fluke over a 1/4- or 3/8-oz. weight. He will use the Zoom Tiny Fluke, as well, but he lets the fish tell him what size bait to use. White and rainbow trout are his favorite colors for this application.
The schools of fish may be 25 to 40 feet deep, and you need something that can get down to them and stay in the strike zone longer. A drop-shot fluke is a great bait to use on fish suspended deep, and Louie said at times you can watch your bait dropping on the sonar screen and literally see a fish make it’s way over to it and then, wham-o, a fat Carters spot slams your bait.
Louie looks for slow-tapering banks with something on them that causes a current break when they start generating water. That’s another thing about Carters. Louie said it almost fishes like a river because of all the water that pumps through. The lake can rise and fall 3 to 5 feet sometimes in a single day, and current is key in May.
River fishing and bass might not seem to go together, but there is a movement going on out there on our rivers. Word is spreading that you can catch good bass in a river, and not just largemouths, but smallmouths, spots and shoal bass, too.
Guys in kayaks, canoes and jonboats are hitting our rivers and streams and pulling out bass with thick shoulder pads on them. One man leading the charge in kayaks is Drew Gregory, a.k.a. “Basser Drew” on the GON Forum. He has a passion for river bassin’ that is as long as the river itself.
Drew was kind enough to share how he uses a fluke on our rivers to fool bass into biting. Drew uses the Strike King Zulu Shad, a fluke bait made of 3X material that is very stretchy and very durable. He mainly uses white or other natural colors, and he rigs them on a 1/16-oz. swimbait hook like the ones that come in a package with Money Minnows.
Drew works his flukes fast, going for a reaction bite. He fishes shoals a lot of the time, and he really burns it across the water. He does, however, slow down the retrieve when fishing a slow eddy, pool or current break.
These types of environments can be found in the Flint River as well as the Ocmulgee, and you will find Drew on these famed waters often. Drew prefers to use a high-speed baitcasting reel and uses braided line because it does not stretch and can take the beating rivers love to deal out. The braided line is also important because of the swift current of a riverine environment. When you hook into mean 5-lb. shoalie in moving water, you need to be able to get that bass into your hands quickly.
In May the water starts to clear and it also warms up, which gets you fired up if you are a bass swimming in a river. Drew said the spawn could last into May because of the cold winter we had this year, but by the second week of May there should be some hungry, hungry hippos ready to feed and regain the weight they lost during the spawn.
He looks for laydowns and outside bends that create a change in current. He will cast his fluke to any visible cover that breaks up the flow of the river. One reason the fluke excels in the river is because the fish can see it so well. Smallmouths seem to key on the smaller flukes more than other species. But make no mistake about it, bass of every type will hunt down and destroy a fluke if given the chance.
Drew said a fluke is a great follow-up bait in the river. A lot of times a bass will miss a buzzbait or other topwater bait, and if you can reel it in very fast and sling a fluke to the same area, you can often catch that fish. The bass thinks it has injured the bait and is looking for it, and a fluke looks just like a wounded minnow. Drew has caught plenty of fish using this technique and has videos to prove it.
He said you should live by one rule when it comes to fishing flukes on the rivers, “Keep a fluke ready at all times.” For more information on Drew Gregory and his river bassin, see www.drewgregory.com.
Back to Basics: Pond Fishing With Flukes
Well folks, you’ve heard from some bona-fide experts in their fields when it comes to fluke fishing. And while I love to fish anywhere there are fish swimming, there is one type of fishing I feel most comfortable with, and that is pond fishing. It’s what we all grew up on before we got a boat and a $200 combo that could sling a crankbait the length of a football field. It’s where we cut our teeth and where we planted our fishing roots.
During the month of May you can take a fluke and walk all around a farm pond catching bass after bass. I prefer throwing a Zoom Super Fluke in white pearl. I will also throw baby bass and Arkansas shiner color schemes. I’ll either use a 3/0 or 4/0 Gamakatsu extra-wide gap hook, and I throw that on 10- to 12-lb. mono line.
I’ll have my fluke rigged up on a spinning reel, which is a little different from the other guys, but pond fishing is different than big-water fishing, too. I will simply walk the banks of a pond and make long casts down the edge of the bank that I have not fished yet. When it is time to move, I do not walk straight down the bank because this will often spook shallow fish. I make a big loop to my next location and then cast my fluke over the same water I just fished, but this time it’s coming from a different direction.
This has helped me land a good many bass.
I like to use a technique I call “tworking it.” Yes that is a funny word, and it’s not a real word at all, but it describes a combination of twitching it and working it. It’s a lot like the other anglers have mentioned, meaning you cast the fluke, give it some quick snaps and then let it fall. Then do it all over again. You are just making the bait behave erratically.
Not all pond fishing is done from the bank, and there are many ponds where you can slip in a little jonboat and straight tear the bass up with a fluke casting to the bank or any sort of structure. In almost every farm pond I have ever fished there is a stump that always holds a bass. You will want to throw that fluke to that stump and who knows, it may be Ol’ Gus, the biggest bass in the pond, sitting there just waiting to eat your fluke.
May is a great time to do some bass fishing, whether on a big lake, on a fast-moving river or a simple ol’ farm pond. A fluke will help you catch bass in all three environments. It is a simple bait to use, and with a little knowledge it can become the first thing you reach for. The almighty fluke — don’t leave home without it!
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