What Is A Jerkbait and How Is It Fished?

Lucky Craft Pointer

When it comes to catching bass there are all sorts of different baits you can use, including some great lures such as crankbaits, jigs, plastics, spinnerbaits and topwaters. However, one of the very best baits, at just about any time of year, are jerkbaits. If you are new to smallmouth bass fishing, you may be wondering just what is a jerkbait, and how should it be fished?

Jerkbaits are lures that carry many of the characteristics of other bass lures. For example, many jerkbaits have a lip that it very similar to that seen on crankbaits, and which is designed to pull the bait underwater. In this particular case the essential difference between a jerkbait and a crankbait is not so much in their respective designs, but in the way in which they are fished. They excel when the water temperatures are in the 45 F to 65 F range. Before looking at how jerkbaits are used though, it is important to understand that there are two quite different forms of jerkbait.

Hard Jerkbaits

Hard jerkbaits, often known as suspending jerkbaits, are long and slender lures that are fitted with a lip, and normally with either two or three treble hooks. Although they can sometimes be found with jointed bodies, they generally have a one piece body, and are designed to float level in the water column so that they can be fished near the surface. There is a wide variety of well know manufacturers who supply hard jerkbaits and some of the most recognizable lure names are Bomber Long A Series, Lucky Craft and Rapala.

Soft Jerkbaits

Soft jerkbaits are fairly new and they were developed because of a major problem when trying to fish hard jerkbaits. That problem is simply that, when fishing around heavy cover, the multiple treble hooks make it very easy to lose your fish once you get a bite.

From experimenting with a variety of different solutions the soft jerk bait was born, and it carries just a single offset worm hook. However, that is not its only distinguishing feature. Soft baits are constructed from plastic, and the colors used in their manufacture make them look very different from their hard counterparts. However, what really sets soft baits apart is their action. Unlike hard baits that are designed to behave in a predictable manner, soft baits are unstable by design and follow an erratic path underwater, that is neither predictable nor repeatable. Finally, soft baits have a very slow sink and can be fished at varying depths.

Fishing Jerkbaits

As their name suggests, jerkbaits are fished using a series of quick jerks with the rod to mimic the movement of a typical bait fish. Depending on the water you are fishing, you will select a hard jerkbait if you want to fish near the surface, or a soft jerkbait if you wish to be able to control, or vary, the depth at which you are fishing.

A very important thing to remember about jerkbaits is that their action comes from the rod, unlike many other lures that are controlled using the reel. The sort of rod you should choose is very much a matter of personal choice, but many people prefer a 6 or 7 foot bait caster when fishing with hard jerkbaits, while many anglers opt for a 6 foot spinning rod for working with soft jerkbaits, especially when fishing in tight spots.  The cadence is basically, twitch, twitch, pause. During the pause, reel in the slack and watch for a strike.  The pause needs to be varied until you see what they are interested in.

With the exception of the dog days of summer, jerkbaits can be one of the most effective and exciting baits for catching smallmouth bass.  For more details on technique in fishing a suspending jerkbait, check out this article here: click!

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