KVD Jerkbait System for Large Smallmouth Water Bass
Kevin VanDam likes to use jerkbaits as search bait in clear water, especially when targeting smallmouth bass in the Great Lakes. For VanDam, it’s all about their ability to fish quickly, haul in bass from a distance, and elicit reactionary strikes. For these reasons, Van Damme reaches for his jerkbait rod when fishing small animals spread across huge flats. This video is a comprehensive guide to finding smallmouth using modern fish finder technology and charting reaction strikes using deep diving jerkbaits.
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How to find bass on big flats
Lake St. Clair is known for its vast flats dotted with grass and patches of sand and rocks — the perfect backdrop for fast-moving baits like crankbaits, bladed jigs, and jerkbaits. VanDam stresses the need to identify changes in bottom composition and determine the type of bass cover associated with it. The opportunistic smallmouth feeds largely on yellow perch, crayfish, and round gobies. While gobies live in rocks, perch prefer areas with a mixture of grass and sand. This is the ideal scenario for Humminbird’s MEGA 360 photography, which VanDam uses to draw a detailed image around him and direct high-ratio casts. From there, he begins to formulate the pattern.
Understand feed and bait selection
Van Damme stresses the need to define a target feed base, which can vary seasonally and even day to day. Lures that mimic minnows excel on perch bites, while realistic swimbaits that mimic gobies, jigs, and plastics get the nod on gobie bites.
How to catch fish
VanDam teaches how to fish and adjust his retrieve based on the fish’s response. Forward-facing sonar is a game changer here, as a real-time game of cat and mouse provides instant feedback. Don’t get a few? Then make adjustments until you run the fish. Rhythm changes usually solve the problem, but sometimes the color of the bait, the depth of the run or the need to switch baits entirely. A tuned jerkbait rod is a huge performance enhancer. VanDam details his setup, discussing how a slower, medium-heavy rod and a fast reel spooled with 12- to 14-pound fluorocarbon work best for him.
The video shows VanDam’s adaptability, as he switches to a drop shot when faced with a hesitant bass following his jerkbait. This change in strategy emphasizes the importance of diversity. Whether you’re targeting smallmouth bass in Lake St. Clair or any other body of water, VanDam’s strategies and tips will help you catch more smallmouth bass.
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