Winter through early-spring is the traditional time to throw jerkbaits in regions that see snow and ice, but pro anglers in Florida and other warmer climes know that a jerkbait catches fish year-round. They think situation rather than temperature, and you should, too.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins keeps a jerkbait handy year-round when fishing Southern latitudes like those near his Florida home. With the obvious exception of the actual spawning period, working baits like the Smithwick Rogue and Bomber Long A catch bass in a variety of situations.

"Jerkbaits are well known for cold water and lethargic fish, but throughout the South, I throw them on shell bars, channel edges, floating docks – just about anywhere," Scroggins said. "It's one of those baits that I keep in my arsenal all year long.

“I select the particular jerkbait based on the scenario I’m fishing. In deeper water I use a Suspending Rogue or a Perfect 10, but over shallow, grassy flats like those at Lake Toho I go with something like the Long A, which is more buoyant yet still produces that erratic darting action when twitched.”

On a recent trip to northeast Florida's Rodman Reservoir, Scroggins demonstrated a classic jerkbait tactic for weedy waters. With his boat positioned in the middle of the river channel, he worked a Rattlin’ Rogue over an area where a broad flat sprouted from the channel. A key factor here was a line of hydrilla that created a sharp break into the deeper water.

"Creek channels always hold fish, and in the winter I always concentrate on the outer bends," he said. "What you have is suspended fish in the river channel as well as fish buried up in the hydrilla on the walls of the channel. In this scenario you’re targeting two different patterns at once."

The key here, Scroggins said, is working your bait so it tempts bass in both locations.

"What you want to do is jerk the bait down whenever you get over that sharp break, and let it pause right there on the edge," he said. "The fish will actually come off that ledge and out of the grass to eat your bait."

As for technique, Scroggins points out that long casts are usually essential in any jerkbait scenario. Since it's all about the subtle facade of a wounded, vulnerable baitfish, distance is your ally – as is diversity in retrieves.

"I start off with a jerk-jerk-pause, then jerk-jerk-pause again," Scroggins said. "Then I like to jerk it three times, pause and then maybe just hit it once. I don’t want to get rhythmic or predictable with it."

Jerkbait cadence is hardly an exact science, but Scroggins knows that a stunned or dying minnow doesn't follow any prearranged pattern. He strives to create an action that’s erratic to give fish different looks from which to choose. Astute attention to which cadences get the most attention guides him in that all-important “dialing-in” process.

The goal is to give the fish a lot of different looks from which to choose their preference. Astute attention to which cadences get the most attention will guide that all-important "dialing in" process.

Notably, Scroggins advises against complacency. He'll mentally log an effective cadence, but even after catching a few fish with the same presentation, he'll keep mixing up the looks.

"You can go with (an effective cadence) but even if they hit it on a 2-jerk-pause, sometimes I throw a 1-jerk or a 3-jerk in there occasionally just to make the bait do something different," he said.

An important complement to cadence, position also merits close consideration. Bites may occur throughout the water column, but once the fish start showing a preference for a certain look, their response will also help you narrow down a strike zone. You'll want to give this strip of water your most diligent attention – and maybe a little extra stage time for the jerkbait.

"When I get the bait in the strike zone I like to pause it a little longer," Scroggins said. "Even if the water's warm, a lot of times you'll get bites when the bait's just sitting there."

On that note, "just sitting there" works for topside presentations with floating jerkbaits, too. At Rodman, while Scroggins plied the depths from the bow, he had me cast a Floating Rogue toward the flat to probe for fish laying up shallow.

"With that floating jerkbait, I like to cast it out and let it sit for 7 or 8 seconds to let the rings settle," he said. "Then I'll just hit it to make it dive underneath the water and pop back up. That generates a lot of bites over hydrilla. Big fish like that action."

Scroggins said the one-two punch of floating and suspending jerkbaits offers a balanced attack for two anglers working to find the fish – especially in a potentially dynamic scenario like the one we fished on Rodman. However, he said it's also a good idea to keep both baits on deck for solo missions.

"If the weather's halfway stable, a lot of times you don't know if they're on top of the flat, if they're buried in the grass, suspended in the channel or sitting on the break itself. If you have two anglers in the boat, one can fish the flat and one can fish the break until you figure out where the fish are sitting. Then you can target that area."