I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

• The Jitterbug


Even the smallest bass I've ever caught knows what a Jitterbug is. The infamous Jitterbug is a commonly underused topwater lure for many bass anglers. I admit I do not use this lure as much as I should. When retrieved, the lure will shimmy from side to side as it makes a gurgling sound as it goes across the water. As the ad states, no bass can ignore this rhythm. They profess it's status as the number one night time topwater lure of all time. It comes in three styles. The original at 2", 1/4oz, with a size 6 hook is my favorite of the three. The original also comes in a 3", 5/8oz, size 1 hook, a 3/8oz 2.5", and a 1/4oz with only a double hook attached at the tail. Arbogast also makes a jointed Jitterbug and a skirted Jitterbug with a weedless hook or a weedless spinning version. They even have a huge one at 1 1/4oz and 4.5" long meant for muskie or pike fishing. What I never understood was why they made the Hocus Locust. I mean, it's essentially a Jitterbug with a few more odd colors, albeit a tad smaller in size.

Like I said, I prefer the smaller original as I feel the footprint left by the others is too big for my taste. I own one in black and one in white/red. Anglers who use this lure keep the coveted black Jitterbug a secret, although if you visit the Arbogast web site, they are fairly open about the popularity of this lure in black for use at night. One question I have yet to hear an answer to is whether or not the larger jointed version is any good. As I said before, I feel it's on the intimidating side of things and have never heard anything about either the jointed or weedless Jitterbug in action.

For myself and a few others, a blow up on a Jitterbug is more exciting than a blow up on a frog any day of the week. I prefer the traditional slow and steady retrieve, however some people go with a stop and go technique. I've never had much luck with the stop and go on a Jitterbug, but it works with the Hula Popper. You might try using a reel with a low ratio. I know my 7:1 reel is a little too fast for this lure. Even a traditional 6.3:1 reel might be on the fast end of things if you're not patient. You want to elicit a certain plop plop sound from the lure. I use it more at night, but the morning topwater bite works with the Jitterbug too.

There is one warning I should pass along. I've seen a gar rip the entire screw loose from the head and concave lip.

When that sun starts going down, make sure you have a Jitterbug ready to go. There's more to life than frogs and buzzbaits.

(EDIT 6-7-2008)
Here are three things to consider when discussing bass and night vision with regard to the black Jitterbug. First, it just works. Any night bass fisherman will tell you to use dark lures. Unrelated to vision, the second thing to consider is that the Jitterbug also makes lots of noise and vibration, so bass pick up on it with ease. The third thing to consider is that the dark color contrasts against the sky and the surroundings. This is the answer you'll get from the majority of anglers. Hopefully you understand the functional difference between rods and cones. Without getting too over the top with jargon, color vision diminishes at night.

Let's face it. Bass have better night vision than we do. Granted it takes a bass a couple of hours to fully adjust, but they eventually see better than we do in these conditions. To you it's pitch black, but not to them. I've read that their eyes receive up to four or five times more light than our own. Whether it's a pitch black night without a star in the sky or the muddiest water known to mankind, a bass is going to still be able to see very well compared to us. Not only are they rather adept at seeing in less than optimal conditions by our standards, but they have a wide field of vision too. A dark topwater lure is going to get their attention.


Anonymous said...

Jitterbugs are beast. I caught like a 5 pounder on one in the middle of the night. Awesome stuff. You can bend the metal part to make it where you can reel faster or slower to get the same action. It just depends on what reel your usin. Try it youll see what I mean

Anonymous said...

the bigger jitterbugs usually work just as well. you catch the bigger fish. but the down side to that is that you get a lot of missed strikes from the little fish hittin the jitterbug. how does a bass or other fish see a black jitterbug in the middle of the night when its like pitch black?

Anonymous said...

Jitterbugs use the noise factor as well as sight to catch bass, so it's not like you are just chucking a noiseless black thing. As for the color, although it defies logic, black siloettes against black better than other colors.

Anonymous said...

I exclusively fish the Jitterbug for Smallmouth in creeks & rivers with rocky edges. It retrieves nice and I've never seen anything work better for catching 3+lb'ers all day long. I use the medium & large with oversize Gamagatzu hooks. My fishing buddies laughed until they realized I was outfishing them every trip. I'm surprised so few fish this lure.

BassFishingDem said...

I suppose I can understand why smallmouth anglers seldom use jitterbugs. We don't have smallies around here, but when I think of the ways people fish for them, lures that come to mind include jigs, small spinners, spoons, subsurface plugs, crankbaits, soft plastics, live bait, and flies. From what I can tell, smallmouth bass seem to really dislike lures that cause too much commotion, but I have also seen anglers draw them out with prop baits and poppers. Good to know that in addition to those topwater baits, the trusty jitterbug works too.

Louie said...

Love the jitterbug talk, I'm working on a website that focuses strictly on the jitterbug. If you guys want to check it out go to Jitterbug Lure Guide. I'd love some feedback.

charles hamilton said...

Whats the best retrieve ratio reel for Jitterbugs? 4:1, 5:1, 6:1?

It seems like there is a balance with line test and weight of lure (1/4 vs 5/8 oz) jitterbug. Just trying for the best action which is a moderate wobble and steady retrieve. Tried 6:1 Shimano Citica baitcaster with 1/4 oz Jitterbug and the retrieve was too fast it seemed. Any advice??

charles hamilton said...

What's the best retrieve ratio for jitterbugs? I am thinking slower ie. 5:1 or 6:1