How to Fish a Jerkbait

JerkbaitJerkbait fishing is an effective and versatile technique that can be used in any fishery for multiple species of fish. Effective jerkbait fishing involves more than simply casting out a lure and waiting for a bite; there are certain tactics and techniques you need to know in order to consistently catch fish with this type of bait. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to catch bass with a jerkbait.

Types of Jerkbaits

Floating jerkbaits are hard plastic baits that float on top of the water until you impart action to them by either “jerking” your rod or by reeling. As your jerk or reel the bait will continue to sink further. Once you stop imparting action to the lure then the lure will begin floating back up.

Floating jerkbaits are a great option for situations where there may be lots of vegetation lower in the water and having a floating jerkbait keeps you out of the weeds.

Sinking Jerkbaits are hard plastic baits that sink through the water column until you impart action by jerking your rod tip or reeling in your line. Once action is imparted to a sinking jerkbait the jerkbait will remain around the same depth depending on the jerkbaits sink rate and how fast the angler’s retrieval speed. Various jerkbaits will sink at different rates. Make sure to pay attention to the sink rate on the packaging.

Sinking jerkbaits are very advantageous for situations where fish seem to range through the water column and you have the versatility to let the jerkbait sink to where the fish are located. Another advantage of sinking jerkbaits is that they are deep diving jerkbaits that have the ability to reach fish located deeper in the water column.

Suspending Jerkbaits are hard plastic baits that will sink to a specific water depth as you impart action to it. Suspending jerkbaits are perfect for situations where you’re trying to target fish located at a specific water depth because it is easier to keep a suspending jerkbait at a specific water depth than it is for sinking jerkbaits.

Soft Plastic Jerkbaits are a great alternative to hard plastic as they will impart a more real life-like action than that of a hard plastic jerkbait. Additionally soft plastic baits generally feel more real to a fish and as a result the fish will hold on to it longer.

The downside to soft plastic jerkbaits are their durability. Aggressive fish will tear through soft plastic jerkbaits much like they do any other soft plastic.

Retrieving a Jerkbait

The key principle behind using jerkbaits is sharp, aggressive strokes – whether you choose to retrieve them at varying depths or make longer runs with them near surface level. That jerking motion plays an integral role in replicating an injured baitfish or other natural food source that larger fish will feed on without hesitation – so it’s essential that this action is frequently repeated during any kind of jerkbait setup. Depending on what kind of structure or conditions you’re casting your jigs around, you can adjust speed and intensity while tying in pauses during retrieval depending on what kind (or size) of jerkbait you’re using.

Rod and Reel

Jerkbaits are best presented best on spinning reels due to their light weight, although some heavier lures may require more power and thus baitcasting gear. A proper rod is one that has fast action and slighlty stiff in order to optimize casting distance for jerkbaits. By emphasizing movement along with resistance against line tension during trolling or retrieving, this type of reb pairing maximizes vibration transference from the lure for detonating strikes from ambitious predators not easily fooled by traditional swim baits.

Choosing a Jerkbait Line

When it comes to fishing jerkbaits, the right line can make all the difference in your success. The best fishing lines for jerkbaits should be tough yet sensitive, providing excellent abrasion resistance while delivering maximum sensitivity so you can feel even the slightest nibbles from fish. Monofilament lines are considered to be particularly useful when it comes to jerkbait presentation, as they stretch and absorb the motion of jerky lures that target more aggressive species like bass and pike.

Braided lines such as superlines are also a good option for jerkbaiting as they offer greater strength and distinctly better feel than monofilament. Such characteristics allow anglers to easily detect subtle strikes, making them perfect for presenting a variety of lures. Of course, these aren’t your only options – there are also fluoro leaders or specialty lines designed specifically with jerkbaiting in mind. Ultimately, choosing an appropriate line comes down to personal preference and technique; each one offers unique advantages that could help maximize your success on the water.

When to Fish a Jerkbait

From late winter through early fall, this technique can be quite productive. In general, jerkbaits work best when the water temperature is between 46-60 degrees Fahrenheit; a period known as prespawn. During this time frame, the males are trying to set up spawn beds while females guard them and feed in nearby areas.

Jerkbaits excel in fast moving current where they can come out of hiding spots in search of food over relatively short distances. The oscillations created by fast rod twitches also help draw attention from any lethargic or inactive bass on or near spawning beds or just stationary along weeds and rocks edges.

Where to Fish a Jerkbait

If you’re looking for a productive spot to fish a jerkbait, you should look for contour changes on the lake bottom where there’s added structure or depth. Fish like bass, walleye, and pike often stay near these spots as they can provide food sources such as insects and baitfish too. Additionally, points (spots that jut out into the main body of water) are other excellent spots to use jerkbaits as there will usually be high concentrations of prey here. Keep an eye out for any visible signs around these areas such as boils or wakes on the surface of the water which could indicate feeding activity below it. It may take some experimentation but once located these ideal locations will quickly become your favorite spot to use jerkbaits!

Jerkbait Fishing Tips

  • Instead of Jerking, try to slowly reel the jerk bait. Jerkbaits have a more muted action when retrieved slowly. Sometimes this can encourage lazy bass to strike.
  • Use a variety of jerkbait colors. Don’t just rely on one color for catching fish with jerkbaits; use bright colors as well as more natural-looking hues to add variety and entice more strikes depending on water clarity.
  • Vary your retrieval speed until you find that perfect speed that the fish seem to respond well to.
  • Change up your jerking and pausing cadences in order to give the fish lots of different looks. This will help maximize your change of getting a strike.


Fishing a jerkbait is an effective way to catch fish year-round. With different types of techniques and strategies, you can target and catch different types of fish in various habitats with confidence. Whether you are a beginner or experienced angler, the skillful utilization of this bait will increase your chances to hook that trophy-sized bass or walleye. From proper rod selection, line setup and presentation techniques to areas where they are caught, there are all kinds of tips on how to maximize your success bass fishing jerkbaits.

If you want to learn other bass fishing options we recommend you learn to fish Swimbaits.