The Smithwick Suspending Pro Rogue was discontinued years ago, but it never left Jason Christie’s boat. Learn why this 5.5-inch Rogue has remained Christie’s go-to bass jerkbait.
Many anglers have forgotten about the Smithwick Suspending Pro Rogue. Jason Christie never has. The 2022 Bassmaster Classic champion has fished with this lure most of his life and considers it his go-to bass jerkbait for cold-water fishing.
Christie bought a huge reserve of these baits many years ago when he learned they were slated to be discontinued. He still fishes from that stash but has long been pleading Smithwick to bring back his all-time favorite bass jerkbait. He has succeeded in part – enough so to keep his stash fresh, at least. Six of Christie’s favorite colors of this big Smithwick Rogue are now available only from Lurenet.
So, what makes this Rogue distinctive and Christie’s top choice as a suspending jerkbait? We’ll explore that question, the conditions that prompt him to reach for this lure, and how and where he uses a Suspending Rogue for winter bass fishing success.
Suspending Pro Rogue
The Suspending Pro Rogue is a large jerkbait. At 5.5 inches, it is a full inch longer than the most popular Suspending Rogue and the same length as the Perfect 10 Rogue. Unlike the P10, it has a traditional Rogue lip, so it doesn’t dive quite as steeply or dig quite as deep.
For Christie, this Rogue is the right size for targeting big bass, and the slow, subtle roll of a Rogue has proven perfect for coaxing bass bites in cold water. From the end of fall through mid-spring, Christie always has a box of 5.5-inch Suspending Rogues in his boat, and he usually has at least one tied on.
He’ll sometimes reach for a Perfect 10 for deeper bluffs, where he needs to get a jerkbait down faster and get a little deeper. And the 4.5-inch Suspending Rogue might get the nod when baitfish are small or the fish seem extra fussy. The 5.5-inch Suspending Rogue Pro remains his go-to cold-water jerkbait, though.
Because of this Rogue’s size, Christie has found that it produces the kinds of bites he wants. If multiple bass are holding together under a dock or in a brushpile, Christie wants to catch the biggest one, and experience has shown him that a 5.5-inch Rogue is likely to make that happen.
“I felt like if I caught five fish from this bait, I was going to win the tournament – or, if not, finish really high,” he said.
Pro Suspending Rogue colors now available from Lurenet are Chrome Blue Back/Orange Belly, Chrome Black Back/Orange Belly, Clown, T-Shad, Thumper and Sour Grape. The first three are among the most popular colors in every model of Rogue. T-Shad, Thumper and Sour Grape each fit specific niches.
When to Fish it
Cold water is the key factor that causes Christie to turn to a Suspending Rogue. It can come into play with a hard November front but is most central to his approach from December through the first part of March. He’ll start throwing it when the water temperature drops to about 52 degrees and will make heavy use of it with temperatures as low as 40 degrees.
Christie likes the lower half of that temperature range best and considers a Rogue extra important when a hard front pushes through, causing water temperatures to plummet and shocking fish.
“That’s when the old Rogue kind of shines,” he said. “That action and being able to stop the bait right in front of them,” Christie said, noting that the Rogue’s subtle roll and the ability to move his lure a short distance horizontally while keeping it suspended in the strike zone, make a Rogue ideal for cold water fishing.
Defying stereotypes, Christie does not limit Suspending Rogue fishing to clear water. He simply alters his approach for stained or dirty water, primarily by working shallower and fishing much tighter to the bank and specific pieces of cover than he otherwise might, and he has enjoyed many outstanding days of catching big bass in off-colored water on jerkbaits.
“You probably won’t catch big numbers on those days, but the fish you catch will be big ones,” he said.
How to Fish it
Christie uses a classic jerkbait presentation with a Pro Suspending Rogue, cranking or jerking it down to its running depth and then working the lure by snapping the rod tip with a semi-slack line and pausing between snaps or series of snaps. That’s the base presentation, but consistent success comes from experimentation and attention to details.
For example, if Christie is casting close to a relatively flat bank, the first jerks are with the rod tip angled upward to keep the lure from digging too deep, as the bait moves away from the bank and gets over deeper water, he switches to downward snaps.
The semi-slack line is also important. Christie only wants to move the bait with the end of each snap to get the proper “Rouge roll” and to prevent the lure from moving too far horizontally. Slow and subtle are key to the best presentations.
As Christie fishes, he experiments with cadences and lengths of pauses and seeks to learn from every bite. Patterning is critical to effective jerkbait fishing.
Primary Suspending Rogue areas for Christie include bluff banks, points, tops of brushpiles and sides of docks. Just as it’s important to pattern presentations, though, patterning locations is vital.
To that end, Christie commonly begins on transition banks, where the slope change from flat to steep because that helps him figure out what kind of areas the fish are using that day and expediates the patterning process. Beyond that, patterning locations is a combination of assessing where fish “should” be based on the situation and paying careful attention to where every hit occurs, watching for followers and noting how fish bite in different types of spots.
Christie fishes a 5.5-inch Rogue on 12-pound test Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon lines, using a 6-8 Falcon Cara Jerkbait Road and a 6.8:1 Lew’s reel.
Jason Christie’s Jerkbait Tips
Attach bait with a snap to keep the bait postured slightly nose down to enhance dive with each jerk.
Check bait to see if it is truly suspending or slowly sinking or rising (with forward facing sonar, if available). Water temperature affects how baits suspend.
Only move bait with the last part of a rod jerk to prevent it moving too far horizontally.
If the water is off-colored, fish shallower and close to cover or structure.