Mark Menendez is considered a specialist with a jerkbait. He views drawing long-range strikes from bass with a hard-bodied jerkbait as a challenge.
What's not nearly as well-known is his affinity for soft plastic jerkbaits, erratic lures like Strike King's 3X Zulu and ZT00. It's that affection for soft jerks that led him to develop a double jerkbait rig that pays big dividends in certain situations.
"My friends and I call it the donkey rig," Menendez said. "It's absolutely one of the funniest ways of fishing. If you're not catching any, you'll amuse yourself the whole day because the action is so erratic and so different.
"A double jerkbait rig does two things. It provides a competition look, which bass hate — when they see something trying to get something else. They want to be the bully on the block and take it away. And it pulls a lot of fish from depths.
"I like to fish it when I'm around schooling bass. If you throw a rattling-type bait like a Diamond Shad or a big crankbait or spinnerbait through schooling fish, it will have a tendency to spook them sometimes, particularly Florida bass, which are so darn finicky. But a double soft-jerkbait rig will get them fired up."
The double rig consists of two short leaders, two 5/0 hooks and a pair of small swivels. One swivel is tied to the end of the main line and an 8-inch leader that ends with a hook; a 12-inch leader is tied to a swivel that moves freely up and down the main line. The big hooks provide enough weight to improve the rig's descent and castability. And the different leader lengths enhance the rig's action while limiting line twist.
"I always like to use little bright silver swivels so it looks like tiny minnows being chased by slightly bigger minnows, which creates the competition look," he explained. "I mix the baits up. Sometimes I use a pair of ZT00s and sometimes I'll have a Zulu and a ZT00. A Zulu floats, while a ZT00 will actually sink, so then you get a parallel look. Instead of having it on the same depth level, you can actually have one below the other with the Zulu on one and the ZT00 on the other."
His color choices are baby bass, blue shad or a clear back/white belly combination.
"When I won the Southern Open at West Point [last year], I practiced a day with the double jerkbait rig," Menendez noted. "It's cumbersome to fish and cast, but you can literally skip it under boat docks or trees. And I found several of the fish that I caught on boat docks at West Point by using this rig with two ZT00s on it. They wouldn't eat it, but they showed themselves. And I came back a day later with a jig and managed to pluck those fish that I needed.
"So it will show you a lot of fish. When you've got competition or they're in schooling areas, or you have fish that are following jerkbaits and spinnerbaits but not eating them, they'll engulf this thing."
Most of the time, Menendez works the double rig in similar fashion to a hard jerkbait with a twitch, twitch, twitch, pause cadence near the surface. But for schooling bass that go below the surface, he lets the rig sink out of sight and continues the same cadence.
How To Fish The Donkey Rig: The Most Fun Setup In Bass Fishing9.6kShares 8.4k 89 946
The fall is the perfect time to start working one of our favorite, outside the box, innovative setups: The Donkey Rig. Essentially, the Donkey Rig is a dual-fluke setup used to imitate multiple shad on the run. It is made up of two leaders, two hooks and a pair swivels.
How To Set Up A Donkey Rig
One swivel goes to the end of the mainline, with an 8-12 inch leader tied to one of your hooks. The other swivel is tied to a 12 to 16 inch leader, and moves on it’s own up and down the leader line. This varied line length reduces twist, and is the basis of the erratic double-fluke action bass in the fall can’t resist.
Using bigger (4/0 or 5/0) hooks give a little added weight to allow you to cast past your target and reel back through, avoiding spooking finicky bass.
Donkey Rig Soft Plastic Choices
When choosing flukes, also known as soft plastic jerkbaits, you can mix and match colors to find what’s working. Another tip to test is working in floating and sinking plastics. If one sinks and the other floats, the erratic action will get even wilder.
Try choosing lifelike shad colors to skip the rig under docks, where bass are feeding on schools of baitfish. Because of the bigger hooks you are using on this rig, opting for a bigger soft plastic is also a good choice. Color changing lures like the Smartbaits Mighty Minnow will adjust to water temperature and keep bass on their toes depending on the depths you are fishing.
How To Fish The Donkey Rig
The Donkey Rig, I thought someone was messing with me the first time I heard this and but yep it is for real. This rig is unique and takes some practice but in time you can master it and it will prove to be useful.
A donkey rig edge is it provides a competitive look, which fish zero in on when they see something trying to get something else they want to be the bully on the block and take it away. The competitive nature of the fish can get in the way of common sense when it comes to the donkey rig.