If I only had one lure for fishing different conditions from saltwater fishing to freshwater it would be the soft plastic jerk bait. This is one of the most versatile lures, which can be fished from the top of the water column to the bottom. You can fish it fast on top to often get a slamming reaction strike to fishing it slow to bring when fish are less aggressive.
Whether you're fishing for bass or fishing for stripers in the surf they can target almost any species of fish in any season from winter to summer. The secret to fishing soft plastic jerk baits is making them appear like a wounded baitfish, which triggers a fish's natural instinct to kill and eat the injured baitfish. You do this by twitching and jerking the soft plastic jerk bait erratically that makes the bait dart from side to side or up and down.
Another benefit to soft plastic jerk baits is they're less expensive than other shad style soft plastics so it doesn't hurt the pocket book as hard when the bluefish are ripping them in half. One of my favorite soft plastics is the Zoom Super Fluke it's loaded with salt so bass will hold on longer while you set the hook and they have a great action when paired up with an offset hook alone or paired with a jig head.
One of the most popular ways to rig a soft plastic jerkbait is with no weight and texas rigged or with a weighted offset hook and texas rigged. Then simply cast out and jerk and twitch the bait across the top of the water or just below the top of the water. When fish are less aggressive keeping your bait off the top will produce more strikes. Fish will often come up to investigate the bait before striking so it is important to have a good pair of Polaroid sunglasses.
Another popular way of fishing the soft plastic jerk bait is to rig it with a jig head, which is a excellent way when fishing the surf or jetties in search of stripers. A shad style jighead up to 3 oz or a jighead that combines a willow leaf spinner is an excellent choice when casting and reeling. I like to use the jighead with a spinner when fishing around jetties such as the Ocean City and Indian River Inlet areas in search of stripers.
So before you head out to do some fishing for bass or your favorite saltwater species pick yourself up some soft plastic jerk baits and give them a whirl you won't be disappointed you did. They are probably one of the most enjoyable lures to fish just watching them dart in the water will make you understand how effective they are.