Fishing Jerkbaits – Tips to Up Your Bass Game

Without a doubt fishing jerkbaits is fun, I mean real fun! Bass fishing with a jerkbait is one of my top three favorite ways to catch fish. You don’t need to be a pro to fish these baits. Just follow these jerkbait fishing tips to up your bass game.

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tackle box with jerkbaits

Jerkbaits vs. Crankbaits

Jerkbaits baits are similar to crankbaits in that they are a hard bodied baits varying length, size, and color just to name a few. A lot of the theory behind fishing a crankbait also apply to fishing a jerkbait for bass.

There are two main differences in the crankbait and the jerkbait however.

  • Jerkbaits are skinny and long while crankbaits are shorter and tend to be more bulky.
  • Crankbaits are most often fished with a constant retrieve. Although speeds of the crank may vary it is always in motion. When fishing for bass with a jerkbait that is not the case. In fact more times than not your bait is sitting still more than its moving.

My favorite crankbaits are very productive, but if given the choice to fish one or the other I’m choosing the jerkbait. For me its a numbers game. My fishing style allows me to catch more bass fishing with jerkbaits.

Jerkbait Basics

bass caught on a luckycraft pointer 78 deep diving jerkbait
Lucky Craft Pointer 78 Deep Dive Jerkbait

Before diving into some of my more kept tips on fishing with jerkbaits, lets not forget about a few things.

Match the Hatch

Like with all the best bass fishing lures its important to remember to match the hatch no matter what you use. If you using a crawdad pattern in a body of water with no crawdads then you are diminishing your chances drastically.

When I say match the hatch I’m not only referring to colors of your baits but sizes of your baits as well. Knowing what size that years fry are is going to increase the realism of your bait in the water. Remember, its the little things that make a big difference.

This is why a lot of the time while fishing swimbaits for bass they are trout patterns. Swimbaits are bigger than most bass lures by design, they fit the profile of a trout well.

Now that we covered some basic properties to consider lets talk about design.

Jerkbait Design

As stated earlier jerkbaits are a hard plastic body that is typically hollow. Attached to the body are three treble hooks that are extremely sharp and never forgiving.

This is another reason I love fishing these baits, hardly ever does a fish bite one and come off.

bass fishing lure

Attached to the face of the jerkbait is a clear plastic bill similar to a cankbait. Just like a crankbait this plastic bill on the jerkbait decides how deep the bass bait shall dive.

Another option to consider is whether you want a floating or suspending jerkbait. Each has their own application that we will go over shortly. A floating jerkbait will rise on a pause and a suspending jerkbait will…..well suspend.

Would you like some rattles with that? Like virtually every other bass bait in the world you can add rattles to your bass’ meal plan.

The Color scheme to me is one of the most important things about a jerkbait. They have to be close in color scheme to something that lives in that water. If your bait fish are silver you need silver, if they have a shade of green to them then so should your jerkbait.

bass fishing lure

Jerkbait Setup for Bass

As with all techniques you want to make sure have have the right Jerkbait setup in order to effectively catch bass. I have heard many people say, and I agree, that jerkbaits can be thrown of a top water rod that you may already have.

The same goes for the reel as well. You may be suprised to know you already have a reel spooled up ready to fish a jerkbait in your garage.

Jerkbait Fishing Rods

Similarly to fishing a top water frog, you will want a longer rod in this situation. A fishing rod in the 7 foot range will allow you to twitch or move your jerkbait with little to no effort.

One rod that I have and recommend is the Dobyns Rods Fury Series Casting Rod. It’s a medium heavy fishing rod with a moderate fast tip. Again I would prefer the 7 foot rod over anything shorter. I have caught a boat loads of fish on this rod no joke!

bass fishing pole

The price point of the Dobyns rods is quite friendly and its a fantastic rod.

If your looking to make a little bit more of an investment there are a lot of people out there using the St Croix Avid Casting Rods. they fall into the medium price range for me but they are fantastic rods no doubt.

I don’t own an avid series anymore but I have in the past. St. Croix makes a great fishing pole and they are one of my favorite rod manufacturers.

Jerkbait Fishing Reels

When fishing jerkbaits for bass it is okay once again to use your top water setups. A fast reel wont hurt here, however it is not necessary.

Its absolutely okay to go down to a 6.1:1 reel. My top water rod has a 7.1:1 reel on it so that is what I use and it works just fine. We can get away with a wide variation because when jerkbait fishing for bass the bit typically comes on the pause.

There are two reels that I recommend and they pair nicely with the rods mentioned above.

The First is a fantastic up and coming company that makes really good products. 13 Fishing’s Inception SZ Baitcasting Reel. These reels are at a decent medium price point and they are built very well. This reels goes well with the Dobyn’s rod mentioned above.

fishing reel

Next up to pair with the St Croix Avid series rod is the Abu Garcia Revo IKE Low Profile Reel. Another rod coming in at the medium price option and designed by one of the industries best.

fishing reel

What Line for Fishing Jerkbaits?

When talking to people about jerkbaits it seems that most people are under the impression that you have to use 12-14 lb fluorocarbon fishing line. While this is generally a good rule of thumb to live by, that is not always the case.

Pro angler Kevin Van Dam has stated he will sometimes use up to 20 pound monofilament fishing line. He believes that the buoyancy of the monofilament line does not allow the jerkbait to go as deep.

Makes sense to me, after all, who are we to question Mr. Van Dam.

Would you like to know more about the differences in Monofilament vs. Fluorocarbon just click the link.

On occasion you can use strait braid while fishing jerkbaits. The lack of stretch in the braid will add increased movement to a jerkbait. It’s a far less subtle approach. So if they fish are loving that real erratic motion, braided fishing line can give you a small edge over the competition.

fishing line

I prefer a good 12 pound fluorocarbon fishing line 90 percent of the time. Its strong enough to set the hooks because of how sharp they are and its light enough that it adds some finesse.

Jerkbait Fishing Tactics

When jerkbait fishing the general concept is no secret. You make a long cast with your jerkbait and twitch it back to the boat. Now, if the bite is hot its as easy as that. However, this is not usually the case. In most scenarios the fish are going to make us work a little more than that.

Here are a few things to try in order to set your bass fishing techniques apart from the rest.

Cadence is Key

It takes some getting used to but try and get yourself into a rhythm. I don’t mean predictable, actually the opposite. While fishing jerkbaits we are imitating injured bait fish. They don’t make the same movements over and over again.

You want to retrieve your bait in very erratic motions. Try mixing up your retrieve by giving three twitches and pause, two twitches and pause, 16.5one twitch and pause.

Mixing up these 3 variances will give you a realistic look in the water. You can play with it and try two twitches and pause, one twitch and pause, three twitches and pause. Keeping the fish guessing is the key.


Playing the Pause

More times than not while bass fishing with jerkbaits the fish will bite on the pause. Many times you wont see or feel the bite until you twitch your bait again.

This presents us with yet another opportunity to vary up our retrieves. Play with your pauses the same as you did with your twitches. Pauseing for 2-5 seconds is very normal while fishing jerkbaits.

Depending on time of the year you will want to wait as long as 10-20 seconds or even as long as a minute. This is especially true in cold water situations. When fishing cold water you will need to pause for longer periods of time.

Fishing Jerkbaits is NOT Seasonal

Contrary to popular belief jerkbaits fishing can be done all year long in most places inside the United States.

Many folks love to fish jerkbaits when the water temperatures are in the 60-65 degree range. Well I’m here to tell you that this is a big mistake! If fish are busting bait then its jerkbait time.

This often occurs when you have a warm spell in the dead of winter. Fish will because suprisingly active and start to move around more. Winter and fall are a great time to tie on a jerkbait because most anglers are not going to do that.

Here are a few more tips to up you jerkbait fishing game.

Wind is Your Friend

Maybe your out fishing and you find a bank with the wind blowing directly onto it. This wind is pushing the bait fish up onto the bank and believe me the bass are right behind them.

Bass will use this as an opportunity to feed like an ambush. Position your boat out off the bank and work your jerkbait back towards you. Some of my best days fishing jerkbaits have come with winds howling to the point that its hard to keep your footing on the boat.

If fishing from the shore try and find a spot where you can cast out at a 45 degree angle with the shore. This will allow you to keep your jerkbait in the bait ball for as long as possible.

This would be the perfect spot to use that monofilament line that we discussed earlier in the article. Your fishing in shallow water and you want to stay in the middle of that bait ball. Mono will float thus keeping that bait from digging into the bottom structure.

Tweaks for Fishing Jerkbaits

You may notice that you are catching a good number of small fish. Don’t be discouraged, this means your on em and they want to feed. Here are a few tweaks to get those bigger fish.

  1. Rattles – Rattles can make a big difference. It gives an audible attraction that a plain jerkbait may not have. Rattles can put off a similar sound of bait fish…. Bass love bait fish!
  2. Lead Strips – Lead strips can offer less buoyancy in order to allow your jerkbait to sink. Sometimes those bigger fish are just a little deeper. So don’t be afraid to get your bait down there and catch them.
  3. Hook Size – Changing the hook size can offer a couple of advantages. The first being more or less weight. This has the same or affect as the lead strips. The second advantage is color. I love throwing a red treble on my front hook. This gives a subtle blood or gill like appearance.
  4. Feathered Hooks – Feathers offer a little bit of a trailer to your jerkbait. You can find them already attached to the hook. Its as easy as switching out your back hook to add some bulk or color to the bait.

Fish Long Steep Banks

Fishing a jerkbait on a long steep bank has yielded great results for me in the past. These are often areas that can be 20 feet deep just 10 feet from shore.

These steep shores provide bass a large advantage when feeding on small bait fish. Like fishing a windy bank the bass can force these bait balls up against the steep embankments.

Bass can quickly move up and down in the water column to ambush pray in these locations.

Make sure to cast your jerkbait right up next to the shore line. Many times in these situations you will get hit on the first 5 rips of the bait. The bass are sitting right off the shoreline ready to smash unsuspecting bait.

Fishing Jerkbaits Around Docks

Docks are a great place to fish jerkbaits. I have had great success in the summer months with this technique. Often times bass will set up under the docks and piers in the shade. It provides protection and yet again a place to ambush prey from.

I like to start off by casting my jerkbait across the end of the dock at 90 degrees. Make sure to cast well past the stucture so that when your bait comes by it you are already in the strike zone and correct depth. Also, failure to do this could result in spooked fish that take off and spook other fish.

Next start fan casting the jerkbait at 45 degree angles down each side of the dock or pier. Stay out as far as you can from the dock so as not to spook the fish, making long casts and quiet splash downs.

I like to fan cast until I have hit every section I wanted to hit. With my last cast I send in straight down the dock parallel. Slow retrieve the jerkbait all the way back to the boat. Wash, rinse, repeat on the other side of the dock.

Best Jerkbaits for Bass

If you enjoyed the article and are ready to get out there and start fishing these awesome little baits, Here is a list of my favorite jerkbaits in no particular order. Each one of these has a specific purpose and yes, I have all of these in my arsenal.

1. Lucky Craft Pointer Series

fishing lure

The Lucky Craft Pointer Series has a very broad spectrum of baits. They are time tested and have great color selections. This bait makes up the majority of my jerkbaits currently.

2. Megabass Ito Silent Vision

fishing lure

Another dominant bait is the Megabass Ito Silent Vision. Great for stealthy performances and tough conditions. The bodies of these baits are unique and the color schemes are intense.

3. Rapala X Rap Series

bass fishing lure

The Rapala X-Rap Series jerkbaits are a very trustworthy bait. They have a more friendly price point and can do some damage on the water if fished correctly.

Final Thoughts for Fishing Jerkbaits

Well if you have read this far I hope you have enjoyed the article.

Is there a question I did not answer for you?

fish caught on lucky craft jerkbait pinterest image.

Do you have a tip that is not already listed here?

Drop me a comment below with your tip for fishing jerkbaits. I will add it to the post with credit to you for the whole world to see! (must be a tip I have not touched on above)

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Thanks for reading folks, happy fishing and tight lines.