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How to quickly tune downsized jerkbaits

The X-Rap® Haku has now found its way to stores around the world! It’s a jerkbait for pike or any other large predator and has a cool quick release system. It reminds a stinger on soft rubber baits that will increase the hook ratio and therefore land more fish. But today I won’t be focusing on the X-Rap® Haku, although I will stay in the same category: Jerkbaits for pike.

This article is for you who is looking for a downsized, little jerkbait for those tough days, cold waters or when you just want to have fun when hitting numbers. Even though they are smaller in size they won’t only help you get numbers, because even big pike will eagerly take these snacks. Or maybe you’re just not that into the bigger and heavier pike lures, that are popular nowadays, and prefer fishing with light gear and light lures. In that case, this might interest you!

The tuning we are about to do today isn’t originally my idea but it’s a great modification done by anglers in the United States and it’s often used for musky fishing. I got inspired and wanted to try it out for northern pike and after some testing, I found it both effective and fun! That’s why I want to share the tuning with you guys. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the original author of this kind of modification is, but kudos for that angler.

The original modification was done on a Husky Jerk® 14, but I’ve extended the same idea to the Ripstop® 12. The same modification can, of course, also be done to the new RipStop® Deep.

The Husky Jerk® 14cm is a great pike lure as it is, both for traditional cranking with or without the stop-and-go -method and it excels as a jerkbait. The only thing we are going to do is change some hardware on the lure and with a quick and easy modification we can make it more suitable for the northern pike. We want slightly stronger and bigger hooks on the lure in order to get a good grip of the fish and to be able to pressure it during fighting. This has many benefits when catch-and-release fishing, because shorter fight will produce less lactic acid in the fish, and we will also be able to stop the fish from taking cover without straightening the hooks. The same tuning applies to the Ripstop®12.

Both models have few things in common but also some differences that make them complement each other. Firstly, they are minnow type of lures, which refers to their slender body. Secondly, the slender profile makes them great as a “target snack” which is part of the idea of downsizing: Sometimes the big fish just aren’t that hungry and will settle for a snack. Both are suspending jerkbaits but their swimming action is different. On a straight retrieve the Husky Jerk® 14 has a more straightforward and tighter action, while the Ripstop® has a bit wider roll to it.

These are the differences that can have great impact on our fortune in different conditions.

The Ripstop® 12 also has a different kind of “kick” to it when twitched, so by combining these in our tackle boxes we have options for different presentations.

I would also say that the modification can be done in two ways. If you are going to use them for trolling pike, I prefer putting dual split rings on every hook for smaller chance for the fish to throw the hooks. But when used mainly for casting, I prefer single split rings on these models for less tangle. Since I’m into casting, I will show the modification with single split rings. The procedure is the same for both models we are working with today. Only difference is the size of the hooks we’ll be using.

We will begin by removing all hardware, that is removing both split rings and hooks. After that, we have a clean jerkbait. The next step is to cut off the attachment for the middle treble with a pair of cutting pliers and file it smooth, so we get a clean look.

We cut off the middle treble because we will be adding weight to the lure by putting bigger hooks and stronger split rings on it. By removing the middle hooks and filing down the attachment, we can balance that extra weight, so the swimming action isn’t changed. Once you have stripped the lure of hardware, cut and filed down the middle ring, all we need to do is add new hardware to it. Choose stronger and slightly bigger split rings than the original ones and mount them. Next up is to put on the hooks and we are ready to go.

For the Husky Jerk® 14 I use size 2 treble hooks that are slightly bigger than the original ones. I’m using the VMC 7548 #2, because they to give the perfect balance to the lure.

I’m also using the VMC 7548 for the Ripstop® 12, but in size 4. The increase here isn’t as big as on the Husky Jerk® but it’s enough. I’m normally also casting the Ripstop® 12 with even lighter gear, so it’ll work fine.

You can of course use hooks of other sizes - try out few different ones and see which ones you prefer for your style of fishing. Although remember to test them, because if you put on too heavy hardware, you might affect the swimming action of the lure. This is also something we can use for our advantage: Sometimes we do need a duller action and by putting bigger hooks on the lure the action will get duller and that can be just what’s needed certain days.

These small downsized jerkbaits are great in cold water, during slow, tricky days or when you just want to downsize your equipment for fun. They are also very rewarding to use in locations with multiple predator species, because it’s always fun to catch a bonus trout, perch, zander or whatever when targeting pike.

The technique to fish them is as described in the beginning - straightforward cranks or jerkbaits with light taps or ripping them fast through the water mass for some hard hits!