Christopher Smith

How To Fish A Suspending Jerkbait

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Have you tried using jerkbaits for smallmouth bass but don’t understand them? I thought I’d relate some info on how to fish a suspending jerkbait so that you can have as much fun as the rest of us have when the “jerkbait bite” is on!  There are windows of time and conditions where jerkbaits are highly effective. When the conditions are right (water temps 55-70F), they are about the most fun a human being should be allowed to have. 😉

How To Fish A Suspending Jerkbait

Smallmouth Jerkbait Tips with Bass Pro Bill Lowen by FieldandStream

When To Use A Suspending Jerkbait For Smallmouth

The key thing to remember is to vary the retrive drastically before you give up on using the jerkbait.  Sometimes twitching the bait a few times and leaving it sit for 20-30 seconds will trigger a strike, other times you may need to continue to jerk-jerk-pause continuously.

 Cold water – … suspending jerkbaits often get slammed by bass when they’re simply hanging motionless in the water column. Their “non-action” takes advantage of the way bass behave — or don’t behave — in cold water. As the temperature of their environment decreases, bass, being cold-blooded, move around less and often suspend to conserve metabolic energy. In 42-degree water, a big largemouth is unlikely to chase down a fast-moving crankbait, but won’t hesitate taking a swipe at a half-dead minnow that’s dangling right in front of its nose.

Suspending jerkbaits will routinely catch big bass in water in the low forty-degree range. Conversely, they lose their effectiveness once the water temperature climbs into the 60s, mainly because bass no longer suspend in these conditions, but seek out shallow cover instead.

Clear water —  They’re best suited to water ranging from vodka-clear to slightly stained. “The colder the water, the clearer it needs to be for a suspending jerkbait to produce,” Larry Nixon said. “Once stained water edges toward 55 degrees, they’ll work ok, but in colder water, I fish ’em in the clearest water I can find.”

Suspending Jerkbait Technique

“Most anglers work jerkbaits way too hard and fast,” stated veteran bass pro Charlie Ingram. “They think since it’s called a ‘jerkbait’, they should keep the lure darting aggressively with hard jerks and rips of the rod tip. But with these lures, less is more. Over-working the bait with your rod defeats everything a suspending jerkbait is about. On most days, prespawn bass want it to be either barely moving or completely motionless.”

If you’re not getting strikes with a jerk/twitch/pause or twitch/pause/jerk/jerk routine, vary the intensity and number of rod movements and the duration of the pauses until you get positive feedback from the bass.”  Original article here

I hope you found this information on how to fish a suspending jerkbait helpful.  If you ending up modifying your approach and get to see what a blast jerkbait fishing is, let me know!


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5 Responses to How To Fish A Suspending Jerkbait

  1. Dewa June 18, 2012 at 2:10 am

    There is some great fishing in Florida, and the fact that it is year round is a faitastnc bonus.Fishing for largemouth bass is a lot of fun, and it sounds like you got into them couple days ago.Thanks for writing in sharing until next time good fishing!

  2. John February 25, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I have been trying to fish with Jerkbaits for years and have never even had a bite. I usually end up tying on a different bait. I just can’t seem to get what I need to do to get the them to strike. I have read and watched every article I have seen and have took the advice but have still never gotten a bite. Should I just give up and stick to what I know or keep trying?

  3. Christopher Smith February 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    John, where are you fishing (body of water) and how deep, what time of year, etc?

  4. Rob England February 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I think the article captured most of the important elements of fishing a jerkbait. The only thing I would add is pointing your rod tip towards the water when working a jerkbait gives the bait a better side to side jerk motion. I honestly think the X-Rap and similar jerkbaits have revolutionized smallmouth fishing.

  5. February 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    John, For jerkbait success, stick to the basics. Anytime fish are shallow, especially early or late in the season, keep it simply by using the smaller size Rapala X-Raps. Start by working the bait aggressively with sharp twitches and jerks. If that fails, start slowing down the twitch cadence and lengthen the pauses. If fish are being caught in under 10 feet of water, they can be caught on a jerk bait.


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