Jitterbugs at Night
loves to Jitterbug! The Arbogast Jitterbug has been around
for over fifty years, and it is still going strong. Ask any night
time bass angler if they carry a Jitterbug, and chances are you
will hear that they do. Ask them what color they use, and you
will no doubt hear that it is black. Yes indeed! Black Jitterbugs
produce plenty of night bass. A Jitterbug is so easy to use, and
fun too. In short, it is a winner - for night expert or beginner!
Basic Anatomy. It is an oddball kind of lure because of
the oversized metal wobbleplate screwed into its nose. Only the
Heddon Crazy Crawler, another surface wobbler, exceeds the
Jitterbug in the odd appearance category. However, the Crazy
Crawler never developed the fish-catching reputation of the
Jitterbug. The big Musky Jitterbug was the oddest and
fiercest looking of all. It was festooned with treble hooks
coming out its ears! Unfortunately, this legendary big bass lure
is not available from the manufacturer right now.
Today, 10 models of Jitterbugs and two sizes of Jittersticks
(with rear prop blades) are available in 15 colors under the
Arbogast brand of the manufacturer, Pradco.
Despite this seeming abundance of sizes and colors, the hooks in
some of these models are too small for serious bass fishing at
night. That's right, you can expect to catch a larger average
size of fish at night than you do in the exact same spots by day.
Therefore, due to hook size considerations for night fishing, we
are only listing a few of the better-hung choices among the
G650 Jitterbug 3" 5/8oz Pair of #1 trebles (G655 with
G645 Jitterstick 4" 5/8oz Pair of #1 trebles
G690 Jitterbug Weedless 2 1/2" 5/8oz Long-shanked #1/0
double hook in tail
G650 Jitterbug JTD Jointed 3" 5/8oz Pair of #1 trebles
Let's Select Just One. Choosing and using the right
lure - and the right color - out of the tens of thousands out
there is an important part of being successful in bass fishing.
You will rarely succeed by buying too many lures in too many
colors. You will not learn how to fish well with any one of them,
and you can go broke doing so. This is not necessary, and it is a
trap fallen into by beginning and middleweight bass anglers
alike. It is far better to work with and master a small group of
reliable lures. Therefore, this article will only tell you about
one size and one color of Jitterbug, but it is the best one in my
opinion. That is the 3" long, 5/8 ounce model G650 in black
(02). In my experience, the G650-02 is the best all-around fish
catcher of the four models mentioned above. Not that the others
don't have their time and place. Just that I choose to focus my
skills and my tackle budget on this one Jitterbug that I know how
to use and have confidence in it. You can easily master it too!
It is an ideal choice for beginner and expert alike.
Best on Spinning Gear. Even still, take a look at the
#1 treble that comes on a Jitterbug. It is not a heavy hook, is
it? And the wobbleplate and bulbous body do not make for the most
aerodynamic casting properties either, do they? Therefore, I like
to fish Jitterbugs on a medium weight spinning rod with 15 pound
test line. This range of spinning gear allows me to cast well,
and spinning provides a cushion for fighting fish on the light
treble hooks. The 15 pound test is good to cast to the outside
edges of cover like fallen trees. Cast it parallel to the open
water in front of long, straight reed berms and along the edges
of dense weed beds. You must work the outside edges of cover,
because you cannot easily use it by casting into grass at night,
and you will get caught up far too often casting it directly into
heavy wood cover. There are better lures than Jitterbugs for
fishing in cover at night.
The 15 pound test is good to work the lure near cover, because
you always run the risk that the fish will run into the cover.
The 15 pound test helps you there. In my opinion, 20 is too heavy
for jitterbugging near cover, because you will put too much
pressure on the fish and straighten the light hooks. But you can
and should use 12 pound test when you are tossing the lure into
open water spots like dark, quiet shoreline flats, over shallow
points, along rock walls and rip rap. The 12 pound test will
allow the lure to wobble more freely.
What could be simpler? Just reel in straight and steady
in order to get the best fish-enticing action out of a Jitterbug.
If you are a beginning night fisherman, it's hard to go wrong
here as long as you don't go too fast or too slow - and don't try
to get too fancy. I always fish them by fine tuning the retrieve
speed somewhere between a slow to moderate pace that generates
the best gurgling sound from the wobbleplate. The right gurgling
sound makes bass go off on it. You have to concentrate your
hearing on the lure and the noise it makes as you retrieve it.
Listen for the lure to make the most life-like sound possible.
It's hard to describe, but you will recognize it when you hear it
- and bass will also let you know they recognize it by blasting
your Jitterbug out of the water at the correct retrieve. Some
nights you have to go a little slower or a little faster,
depending on wind and water surface conditions. So, always listen
and use your ear to fine tune into that highly desirable
life-imitating sound made by the wobbleplate.
Don't Blast Back. This isn't a gun fight. If a bass
blasts you and misses, what will you accomplish by blasting back
and also missing with a hook-setting effort? You'll accomplish
nothing except blow your chances, so please don't do it. Just
sharpen your hooks first. The ones that come on a Jitterbug
aren't the sharpest in the world. Now when a bass blows up on
you, just keep reeling steadily as if nothing ever happened. If
she's got you, she isn't going to let go too quickly. Just wait
until you feel the weight of the fish on the line. You don't need
to be in any kind of rush here. You have a couple of seconds to
play with here. If she is on, set the hook. If she missed
completely, just continue reeling as if absolutely nothing
happened and she'll come back to blast you again!
Advanced Line Control. This paragragh describes an
advanced topic - talking about line control for topwater lures.
It will help semi-experienced anglers more than beginners, but
please read on and try to follow even if you are a beginner. It
is not so much that a topwater lure itself has more freedom to
move on a lighter line such as 12 pound test, it is the fact that
a lighter line itself moves more freely in response to the lure's
wobbling action. In the case of a Jitterbug, you ideally want all
the line between the rod tip and the lure tie to be out of the
water, swinging back and forth in the air in response to the
lure's movement. There should be a little belly and slackness in
the first ten feet of line closest to the lure. If you keep too
much tension in the line, you will prevent this "slack
zone" from appearing, and if you let too much looseness in
the line, the belly will sag or appear mid-distance between the
rod and the lure, therefore too far from the lure for the belly
to really swing and have a positive influence on the lure action.
But if you are doing it right, with the line's slack zone close
to the lure, then you will see the line oscillating back and
forth like crazy, throwing a rhythmical pendulum arc in the air
as the lure action moves the line. If you keep the retrieve pace
steady with no variation in line tension, the Jitterbug action
will achieve, shall I say, a kind of equilibrium point where the
lure is wobbling freely in perfect harmony with the side-to-side
action in the the line. At that point, your Jitterbug is really
moving freely, and you are generating the best, most life-like
action you can get out of it. Now fine tune the pace with your
ear to get the most life-like gurgling noise out of it. Practice
makes perfect here fellows. All the more reason not to commit
yourself to using too many lures. It takes time to master them.
That's all you need to know. There isn't much more to
it. Really. Now go out and give those night bass the jitters!