Michael Murphy reviews the Ima Flit Jerkbait

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The ima Flit has become a staple jerkbait for many anglers for one reason – it works superbly. Please join ima pro-staffer Michael Murphy, designer of the Flit as he reviews the Flit 120 and 100 jerkbaits.

Michael Murphy interview on the Ima Flit Jerkbait

Michael Murphy designed the ima Flit 120 and 100 jerkbaits

Question: To set the scene, what kind or rod do you deploy with the Flit? What reel? What line?

Michael: The rod I like to use is a 6’9″ stick. I stand 6’5″ tall, and with the elevation of the boat bow above the water, standing on the front deck, this rod is the perfect rod for me to be able to point my rod tip straight down without dragging in the water. I believe this is critical for ease of use, to hold the rod straight down without hitting the water, but this will be different for everyone. For a shorter person, it may be a 6′ rod. Overall, I like a medium/heavy action rod with some good backbone but still a good amount of tip for casting, working the lure and for playing a fish gingerly if it is barely hooked – a common occurence with jerkbaits.

Question: How do you recommend to attach your line to the Flit? Why?

Michael: Directly to the split ring. Some like to use a clip on their jerkbaits, hoping to get more action. This action is already naturally build into the Flit without having to do this. Adding a clip would most likely result in the front hook continuously catching the line. A clip is not needed. Simply tie direct to the split ring already provided on the lure. As far as knots, any type of good clinch knot goes well with fluorocarbon, except I do not like to use a Palomar with fluorocarbon since I believe it increases the chances of knot failure, and I do like to use fluorocarbon on my Flit.

Question: How deep does the Flit dive? Are there any certain types of cover or structure or something else specific that’s an ideal situation for the Flit due to its working depth?

Michael: Many jerkbaits are first designed on looks (eye appeal) and then the bill is constructed to achieve action and depth. Since the Flit is designed based on the idea of matching the hatch and to mimic the cadence of baitfish, specifically of the herring family (i.e., blueback herring, gizzard shad and threadfin), the action is already built into the Flit body. The bill is there to only achieve depth, not impart action. If you would like it to achieve its maximum depth, point your rod tip down toward the water to obtain 8 feet of depth on 8 lb fluorocarbon or 6 feet of depth on 10 lb fluorocarbon. You may change the position of your rod tip to make it run shallower. With your rod tip pointing directly up at an eleven o’clock position, you can make it walk just beneath the surface. The Flit very effective, whether used to fish deep on bluff walls or shallow just under docks.

Question: Is there anything you can do in terms of rod, line or retrieve or any other bait adjustment that lets you reach different depths? Is there anything that can make the difference of getting the Flit a couple of feet deeper or shallower?

Michael: As mentioned above, line diameter and also line type do make a difference. The general idea using the Flit jerkbait is that the smaller the line diameter the deeper the bait will go, simply due to less line drag. However, with the Flit, the exception to this would be at rest. When you pause the Flit, mono floats and fluoro sinks. You could use this difference to your advantage in order to have the Flit behave differently or run at different depths dependent on specific situations. Again, this will vary among line brands and types. No two lines are exactly the same.

Question: Sometimes a bait gets categorized as a smallmouth killer or a spotted bass killer, or a largemouth magnet. Do you think the Flit has a special or higher appeal to smallmouth, spotted bass or largemouth? Why or why not?

Michael: I couldn’t tell you. The Flit catches all three bass species equally and all very effectively. I think you can’t tag this type of reputation on the Flit, since all three species feed on members of the herring family, which makes them all equally vulnerable. I can tell you, with all three bass species there are no differences. They all eat it most excellently. If anything I would call it the “anything that swims and feeds on baitfish magnet” because it is not just with bass, but it could be redfish, pike, perch, gar, you name it. I have caught practically everything on the Flit so far.

Question: Some anglers mention having a good jerkbait bite first thing in the morning, and then have it fade out and die on them by mid-morning. Is that something you’ve seen about the Flit bite? Is the Flit bite similar to what some have experienced with an early morning topwater bite, that it’s usually good at first light, and shuts down once the sun hits the water? Or is there anything you can do or any conditions or factors that make for a good Flit bite all day (or as long as those factors remain present)?

Michael: No. It is not like that. As the sun comes up, I start to chase shadow lines. It may be the shadow line off of a bridge, dock, trees, bluffs, etc. Seems like bass will just pull tight to these shaded areas. It is not just with jerkbaits, I would say this applies with all lures under these early morning conditions and it is merely the natural behavior of how bass act. I say this, because I would never say a topwater bite will completely shut down. Instead, it will just change. I have had some of my best topwater days on Lake Lanier over 30 feet of water on clear bluebird days catching both spotted bass and largemouth. I think the shutting down of any bite or that sudden “lock jaw” is nothing more than a myth. Strike zones and the willingness to commit may become smaller, or how fish may hold to structure may change under changing conditions. However, at the end of the day. it is all basic behavior and simply what makes the best sense for how a bass can ambush its prey. Bass are always eating, it is just a matter of how or where. I have never seen a tournament where someone did not catch something. So I am not a big believer in a bite shutting down because the fish were not eating. The bite just changes or shifts. As anglers, we may lose the bite, but it’s still going on somewhere.

Michael Murphy interview on the Ima Flit Jerkbait

Click any photo to enlarge or to play slideshow.

Question: What would you say is the biggest error you see anglers make with jerkbaits?

Michael: Certainly it’s stereotyping the technique. The belief that it is only good for spring and for post frontal situations. They (jerkbaits) are good all the time.

Question: Overall, what action are you trying to create with a jerkbait, and with the Flit specifically? What impression are you trying to make on the bass with the Flit? Is it supposed to be an injured or disoriented baitfish – or a perfectly normal baitfish movement?

Michael: Both. You can make it look disoriented or like a normal baitfish. Whatever condition or mood the bass may be in, you can match it. The Flit can be fished with random, erratic jerk and pause techniques, or with a consistent walking side to side motion. It is based on the concept like a Zoom Fluke or other soft jerkbait which can act very erratic or disoriented, or a topwater like a Super Spook which is very consistent. Both the Fluke and Spook have very effective actions – and you are able to do all of that with the Flit, better and at a depth where you are more easily able to catch the fish that are just slapping at it and not really willing to commit. You’ll hook a good percentage of those non-committal fish with a jerkbait.

Question: With the jerk-and-pause action that you create, do you vary it for different seasons or different reasons?

Michael: Yes, the colder or less active the fish are, the tighter the walk or the shorter the jerks I will use with a longer pause. The warmer or more active the fish are, the harder I will lay into the jerks and the more frequent and consistent I will work the lure with less pauses.

Question: Which is the most important part, the jerk or the pause?

Michael: It depends on the time of the year. Both are equally important. This relates to the previous question.

Question: What other elements are there to the action? Is the reeling an important element? How fast or how far you reel, do you vary that? Any other elements to the action except the jerk, the pause, the reeling?

Michael: I typically reel a quarter to a half a turn per jerk. With this type of technique, the reel is nothing more than a tool to hold the line and to provide a good drag and high speed retrieve when fighting a fish.

The most important elements to working a jerkbait are the rod action and how you work the rod. In addition, your attention to details of what happens to the jerkbait on different jerks and rod angles, and tying all this together to discover what is most persuasive action to trigger the bass on any given day.

Question: Do you look to develop a cadence or Flit “action” for the day? That is, once you catch a few on a certain sequence of jerks and pauses, do you find all your fish going for that same sequence of jerking-pausing? Or do you catch fish on a diversity of cadences during the same day?

Michael: Absolutely a cadence or “rod action pattern” materializes many days. This goes right along with my previous answer about paying attention to details that spell what is the fish’s preference for the day or for the situation at hand.

Question: At what point do most strikes occur? What induces the strike – the jerk, the pause, the reeling in or what?

Michael: The pause, over 90% of the time.

Michael Murphy interview on the Ima Flit JerkbaitQuestion: How would you say that jerking, pausing and reeling in a jerkbait differs from popping, pausing and reeling in a topwater popper? Is it essentially the same action for a popper and a jerkbait? If not, what are the differences between working a topwater popper and working a jerkbait (except of course you can see the popper)?

Michael: Yes, they’re both pretty much the same. Especially in the aspect that there are about as many different and effective ways to work a popper as there are to work a jerkbait

Question: What if you suddenly see a bass following the Flit as it gets near the boat (or shore)? What do you do to convert those followers into biters? How do you get them to commit and whack it? Or if they break off the chase and drift away, how do you get them to come back and strike on the next cast?

Michael: There is a technique that I discovered with the Flit, and it is the only jerkbait I have found you can do it with, because it has such tight walking action. With the right among of slack before the jerk and immediately after allowing the bait to glide, you can make the Flit literally do a 180 degree about-face. If the fish is trailing close enough and not willing to commit, you can make it bite out of mere reaction with this 180 degree turn-around maneuver. Bass don’t have hands to swat, they use their mouth, and this results in a catch. This does take practice, but it is one of the absolute coolest thing you will ever experience. I did it on Lake Murray with a 5 lb 8 oz bass, it was unbelievable!! I have done it with many other fish, but the 5 lb 8 ouncer was the coolest because it followed the Flit the first cast and peeled off, and then I was able to get it to track it again and I pulled this 180 on it. It was so funny because it was apparent it hit out of sheer reaction to the 180 turn-around. This bass didn’t even know what to expect or what happened. It just bit, but it didn’t even fight. That was the down side. It was pretty lethargic. At the same time, it was pretty funny.

Question: How come so many jerkbait bass are partially hooked on the outside of the mouth? Some have suggested that the bass is slapping the lure’s tail or pushing against the lure’s tail so it can turn the long jerkbait 180 and swallow it head-first. What do you think of that?

Michael: I used to have fish (two spotted bass, a largemouth, and two crappie) in an aquarium. I would feed them gold fish. If they were hungry and/or competitive, they would eat the gold fish any way they could get them down, sideways, tail first, head first, it didn’t matter. As the competition abated and/or they were getting full, they were more selective and would go for the goldfish head first. However, doing this, is a little harder for them to do. So they would ambush them from the side, battering them, with scales falling off, until the prey moved slow enough and were an easy enough target for them to successfully eat head first. With jerkbaits, I believe that may be what they are doing at times, hitting the jerkbait first as to kill or stun it to make it easier to eat. In many cases they will go through this motion with their mouth closed or mostly closed as to not eat it, just incapacitate it first. With a jerkbait, the hooks may naturally end up on the outside of the mouth.

Another explanation is far simpler. A fish swims up to inspect the bait and simply noses it, much like it would nose a jig, worm, or crayfish on the bottom of the lake out of curiosity, but with a jerkbait, because of the sticky-sharp trebles and the jerking motion of how the lure is worked, the nosy fish may get stuck around its mouth or side of the fish’s head, resulting in a catch. Such fish certainly are not intentionally being snagged, but depending on the particular state regulations or tournament rules, this may or may not be deemed a keepable catch.

Question: Before we conclude, are there any other points you’d like to mention about jerkbaits or fishing with  the Flit?

Michael: I think we pretty much nailed many of the most important questions. I can’t think of anything else to add. Thank you for asking.

ima Flit 100 vs 120

Michael Murphy interview on the Ima Flit Jerkbait

Flit 120 vs 100 size comparison.

“My most consistent and productive time of year for the larger Flit 120 seems like its when the water is always at its cleanest and clearest in the early spring, before the spring rains come. At times when there are no algae blooms, not so much rain, that’s when the jerkbait bite can be best.”

“As spring progresses and grass becomes prevalent particularly in shallow backwater areas, you’ll find the bigger Flit 120 goes a little too deep and hangs up, but you’ll also find that the smaller, shallower Flit 100 will stay just above the grass line, even on a very grassy lake like Guntersville, Alabama,” says Murphy.

“The Flit 100  doesn’t go near as deep. Whereas the Flit 120 goes 6 to 8 feet deep, the Flit 100 goes 3 to 5 feet deep. So it can stay right above that depth of grass; you won’t be hanging up as much, and it is a friendlier, smaller size of jerkbait that’s more acceptable at times when fish won’t commit to a bigger bait.”

“The Flit 100 has one less hook, but they’re the same size hooks as on the Flit 120. Also, there isn’t a major weight difference, no castability difference and no difference in the tackle you would use with either the Flit 120 or the Flit 100. You can throw both of them on the exact same rod, same line and same set-up. You won’t have any problems to switch from the bigger Flit to the smaller one. As small as the Flit 100 is, it casts like a bullet. and since it has the same size and strength hooks as the Flit 120, you don’t need to treat it any differently, except it works at a shallower depth and has a smaller baitfish profile. So you have two great ima Flit jerkbaits that you can cover a lot of water, different depths, match different baitfish sizes, plus the 100 can appeal to less aggressive fish than the 120. Also, I’ve found that fish don’t want a bigger profile jerkbait when the water is super cold. So the Flit 100 can be more effective in super cold water,” says Michael.

“As you may see now, there’s a definite need and niche for two different Flits, even though they’re similar in other ways,” says ima Flit designer, Michael Murphy.

Russ Bassdozer

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