To make a jerkbait stay level as it sinks, Cook upsizes all three hooks. The main reason he wants his jerkbaits to sink is to get them down quickly to bass he sees suspended on Garmin LiveScope sonar.
“If I see a bass in 10 feet of water I have to make a super long cast to get a stock jerkbait down to 8 feet,” Cook said. “That gives the bass a lot of time to move away.”
A sinking jerkbait allows Cook to make a much shorter cast 10 to 15 feet beyond the bass. Because the bait rapidly sinks to the proper depth, he has a better chance of working it into the strike zone before the bass moves.
“I always cast beyond the bass and work the bait to it,” Cook said. “I want the bait to surprise the fish.”
When Cook wants to fish a suspending jerkbait in shallow water, he puts oversized hooks on a slow floating Spro McStick 115. He opted for the largest hooks that would fit on this bait when he competed in a 2021 Elite Series event at Lake Fork, Texas, a trophy bass Mecca.
“I was fishing in 3 feet of water,” Cook said. “I had a 1/0 treble on the front and back and a No. 2 in the middle.”
Cook generally switches to larger, heavier treble hooks when fishing crankbaits.
“I like my crankbaits to look like they have eagle talons,” he said.
He believes that short shank, extra heavy treble hooks are the greatest thing that ever happened for crankbait fishing. He opts for the largest hooks that can be used without catching each other. The heavier hooks increase the crankbait’s depth and their bigger bite grabs more meat.
Cook doesn’t affix lead tape to jerkbaits, but does so with crankbaits to get them deeper or to make them suspend. A suspending crankbait pays dividends when he sees bass with forward-looking sonar.
“With LiveScope I can see when a fish is following my crankbait,” Cook said. “When I stop cranking, the bait sits right there in front of him. They can’t stand it. A lot of times they bite because they run into it.”
If he wants a crankbait to sink down to leviathans hanging in the depths, he adds a drop-shot weight to the front split ring alongside the treble hook. This requires a weight that has a tie-on line attachment and not the pinch-style line grabber found on many drop-shot weights. Cook employs 1/8- to 1/2-ounce Titan Tungsten weights.