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Many bass anglers elect to put away their jerkbaits once the cold-water bite for prespawn bass has concluded. That’s a mistake, says South Carolina pro Michael Murphy. The natural baitfish profile that these minnow imitators provide can be deadly well into the summer months if worked properly. Actually, they’re effective year-round. He worked hard with the IMA engineers to create various sizes of the Flit, as well as the newer Floating Flit, to ensure that these baits are not one-season wonders – as long as you tailor your approach to the season.
“The Flit walks tighter than any other jerkbait out there,” he explained. “In the spring, you need to do more of a rip-pull, as opposed to a rip-snap, to deaden the action. You don’t want to be too aggressive.”
At this time of year, though, the fish are more actively hunting, rather than focusing on their reproductive duties, so the various Flits fished more quickly become his go-to baits any time there’s at least two feet of water clarity.
“I like both the suspending and floating version this time of ear any time it’s partly to mostly cloudy,” he explained. “They’re always on my deck if clouds are forecast, and they’re at their absolute best when the bass are not quite committed to the topwater.”
After the bass are done spawning, baitfish like bluegills and blue herring start the process themselves and become easy targets for recovering bass. Many anglers will turn to a soft jerkbait under these conditions – it’s a standard on waters like Lake Murray near Murphy’s home – but even the most naturalistic soft bait has its flaws at times. When the fish are not fully committed to the bait and they just slash at it, frustration is often the result.
“You hear the stories all the time,” Murphy said. “‘If I could’ve just caught half of what bit, I would’ve won the tournament.’” That’s the occasional problem with a single-hook lure. The Flits have either two or three sticky-sharp trebles, so fish that slap at the lure get pinned to it. Of course, the proper tackle helps to keep them buttoned. When the wind requires that he use the standard Flit and a “jerk-pause” motion, he employs his signature series Denali Jerkbait/Topwater rod, with 10lb fluorocarbon, specifically Toray Premium Plus High Grade. Depending on the amount and direction of wind, he’ll wind it on either a Lew’s size-300 Gold Spin or a Lew’s BB1 baitcasting reel (6:1 or 7:1 gear ratio). When he wakes the Floating Flit, he opts for a Denali 7’6” Cranking rod with 10-lb BAWO Super Hard Polyamide Plus Nylon.
“The longer rod is to keeps the line off the water as much as possible,” he said. “Matched with mono instead of fluorocarbon allows it to wake easier and not dive.” The other adjustment he makes is to downshift to a 5:1 Lew’s BB1 Speed Spool. “The slower gear ratio forces me to stay super-slow on the retrieve. The bait itself will tell you if it’s going too fast. It’ll feel like nails across the chalkboard.”
The beauty of these lures is twofold: First, fish will come from a long distance away to investigate and attack. Second, just about no one else is throwing them at this time of year. Everyone else has moved on to the lures they’re “supposed” to be using. That decreases the wariness of the bass and increases their strike zone, so you can cover more water than you could with a soft jerkbait. “You don’t have to cast every 5 feet like you would with other baits. You can cast every 15 feet.”
While it’s best when it’s cloudy, he occasionally uses the Floating Flit on “dead slick flat days when the fish are in a funk.” It tends to bring out their aggression.
Not surprisingly, he said that his go-to colors are the various shad and chrome patterns. That makes sense, because his local lakes are loaded with blueback herring and the flash calls fish from a long distance away. At the same time, the gaudy chartreuse lip of the Floating Flit also draws vicious strikes, while letting you easily see the action of the Floating Flit. You might think that it would be a negative cue in clear or relatively clear water, but history has proven that it’s a trigger, not just on smallmouths and spotted bass, but also on hungry post-spawn largemouths. It’s an easy to find and easy to capture meal they can’t resist.
THE RESULT OF FLITING IN THE SUMMER!!