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Whether you’re sitting here reading this in the early spring or the late fall, you can find a use for jerkbaits. The best jerkbaits allow you as the angler to take control of the action because they don’t create any presentation. Instead, the jerking motion you create is what attracts the attention of nearby opportunistic bass.
Jerkbaits are long lures that come in both hard and soft forms. They mimic the appearance and movement of an injured baitfish, and that is what earns the strike.
The reason these are so effective is that you’re responsible for creating the action. You decide how fast or slow you want them to go, and you can also pick how deep or shallow you go based on the style you choose.
In this guide, we’re covering some of the best jerk baits for bass, as well as some of the methodology and strategy behind fishing these types of lures. Let’s get down to business!
- Our Top Picks for The Best Jerkbaits For Bass Fishing
- Different Types of Jerkbaits
- How to Fish a Jerkbait: When and What?
- Gear to Use When Fishing a Jerkbait
- Final Thoughts
Our Top Picks for The Best Jerkbaits For Bass Fishing
Rapala X-Rap Jerkbait
- Type: Hard suspending
- Size: 0.43 ounces
- Color: 10 different natural colors
- Comes with a hard cutting and aggressive darting action meant to mimic how a dying baitfish would move towards the end of its life
- Built with a long-casting system to help you get the ideal casting distance. It suspends around 3-8 feet.
- This is one of the most recommended lures on the market. Fish it slower in cold water and faster when it’s warm.
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Mid-depth suspension
- Has internal rattles to draw attention
- Wouldn’t recommend jerkbait fishing on rainy or overcast days
One important thing to always remember about a jerkbait is that you’re responsible for creating the action. This means that these lures rely heavily on visibility, so if the water is really murky, you can’t create the right presentation. This one helps by having rattles, though.
Smithwick Lures Perfect 10 Rogue
BEST DEEP DIVING
- Type: Deep diving
- Size: 0.32 ounces
- Color: 22 different colors
- Comes with three treble hooks
- The lure quickly dives to ten feet deep or more with a rogue roll displaying a bright flash from the brilliant design
- Make sure you use the proper line weight to get these to suspend. I would recommend something around the 6-8lb range.
- Great for striped bass
- Deep diving action works well for deep water
- Bright colors create a flash on sunny days
- I would prefer if they weighed a bit more, the low weight impacts the diving action
Deep diving jerkbaits work best if you’re fishing on a boat out in open water. These will dive quickly down to their range of ten plus feet, and then it’s up to you to jerk them properly so you can create the proper action. These have a nice flash to draw attention as well.
Yo-Zuri 3DS Minnow
BEST SHALLOW SUSPENDING
- Type: Suspending
- Size: .25 ounces
- Color: Varying natural colors and sizes
- 3D pattern with realistic eyes
- Shallow suspending jerkbaits only dive to around 2-3 feet which is ideal when fishing closer to the shore or around vegetation
- Mimic what they eat when it comes to color choice. If it’s a bright and sunny day, choose a bright color. On an overcast day, choose something more neutral.
- Great for shallow water fishing
- Realistic appearance
- Hooks are a bit weak
My favorite thing about this one is the appearance and diving depth. I find that jerks work best when they’re kept slightly beneath the surface of the water, but you need to present them quickly without pulling too hard. If you pull too hard, you’ll break the surface of the water and mess up your presentation.
Rapala Jointed Shallow Shad Rap 7
- Type: Jointed
- Size: Approx 0.40 ounces depending on the version
- Color: 7 different color choices
- These will dive down to around 3-4 feet, so they create a nice suspending presentation
- The jointed nature of the lure creates a loud rattle that draws the attention of nearby bass
- Keep in mind that this lure will suspend on the top of the water until you start to retrieve it. You need to consistently reel it in at a speed that relates to the current water temperature.
- Joint helps presentation for beginners
- Realistic color and eyes
- Requires a constant retrieval because of the presentation and slack getting caught in hooks
I’m a big fan of Rapala fishing lures, and you’ll see a few of them in this review, but this one has a little design fault. Part of the enjoyment of fishing a suspending jerkbait is the fact that you “let it sit there for a bit” before jerking it.
You can’t really do that with this one because of the joint the treble hook constantly gets caught in the slackline. If you keep a consistent retrieval, though, you shouldn’t have that problem.
Yamamoto D Shad Bait
- Type: Soft
- Size: 5 inches
- Color: 9 different colors
- Each purchase comes with a quantity of 7 jerkbaits
- Soft jerkbaits offer a natural appearance, and they feel more realistic in the mouth of the bass which will lead to a harder strike and easier hook set
- Keep the color choices in mind here. I would recommend picking up a few different ones so you can appeal to the unique requirements of each fishing trip.
- Comes with a molded-in weight to help the suspension
- Natural feel and color
- Dives quickly
- Soft jerkbaits will get torn up easier
My favorite feature of these is the fact that they dive quickly. A fast diving jerkbait is desirable because it will allow you to reach the bottom faster, so you get more casts in. This means you can cover more water.
Rapala Original Floater Lures
- Type: Floating
- Size: 0.16 ounces
- Color: 13 different colors
- Hand-tuned and tested made from Balsa wood
- The lightweight nature of this lure creates a powerful topwater action that bass can not deny
- One of the most traditional of all topwater lures and everyone should have one in their tackle box for largemouth bass and smallmouth too.
- Long-standing and well-respected lure
- Natural appearance
- Can’t think of any
I would recommend going with the bleeding shad color of these because that is what we’re trying to create here in terms of action.
Different Types of Jerkbaits
Now that you’ve seen some examples of jerkbaits let’s break them down so you can understand how to make the right choice. We’ve got two primary categories here; hard and soft-bodied. Each type has a few sub-categories as well as some pros and cons. Keep in mind that a lot of the verbiage used to describe these lures tells you a bit about the bass fishing technique as well. Let’s take a look at each option in-depth.
Hard jerkbaits come with one, two, or three treble hooks, and they’re plastic, polymer, or wood. These are usually in an aerodynamic shape that helps them dive to their desired depth. With hard jerks, sometimes they come with rattles inside. These rattles exist to create a noisy presentation as they dive down into the water, and as you jerk them.
Some hard jerks come with a joint in the middle, and that is what creates the rattle instead. Jointed jerkbaits are a lot like crankbaits. They are two different pieces joined by a connector eyelet in the middle. As they move through the water, the two pieces slapping off the water resistance is what creates the noise.
Within the hard category, you have three additional categories. There are floating, suspending, and sinking jerkbaits, so let’s take a look at each.
A floating jerkbait does exactly what you would think. It floats until you start to retrieve it, then it will dive down usually around 3-4 feet or less and then float back up when you stop. These are great for creating a proper jerk motion because when you jerk the rod, they’ll dive down and then rise back to the surface. This presentation is what attracts the bass.
The most common and favorite type is a suspending hard jerkbait. These can float around mid-depth without sinking or floating when you’re not retrieving or jerking the bait. The advantage here is the appearance. These have a natural appearance because they plunge to the desired depth when you cast them and when you jerk them, they blast through the water.
Sinkers are sometimes called diving, and these will continue to dive deep until interrupted by a jerking of the rod or retrieval on the reel. Anglers prefer these when they know there is the desired structure under the water that you want to hit. These baits are heavier, so it is easier to get an accurate cast, thus reaching that structure more efficiently.
Many anglers prefer soft styles because they’re more affordable, and they offer a natural appearance and feel. When a bass bites down on a soft bait, they’re more inclined to continue rather than releasing and moving onto something else. This provides additional time for you to realize what is happening and set the darn hook.
The soft bodies also help them move through the water more naturally. When you jerk these, they’ll move in erratic directions, which is what we’re trying to create. That type of presentation is appealing to bass because it doesn’t get repetitive, and it’s different each time you cast. You can hit the same water twice with the same lure and catch bass both times because the presentation is different than before. One of the biggest problems I have with soft jerkbaits is line twisting. You need to use a texas rig with these and make sure you’ve got it 100% right; otherwise, the lure will spin and roll, which will cause a twist of the line and a crappy presentation.
How to Fish a Jerkbait: When and What?
Now that you know each type of jerkbait, and you might even have some ideas in mind for which one you want to get. Let’s take a look into the strategy of fishing these lures. These tips will help you get on the water and have success right away with your bass fishing jerkbaits.
The best thing about these lures is the freedom they provide. Since you’re in total control of the presentation, you can fish them from early spring all the way to late winter.
If you can find a schooling situation, you’ll also have a lot of success because every bass will bite a jerk. Schooling happens most commonly during pre-spawn season in the early spring. You’ll want to fish around channels and the mouths of creeks for the most success.
Bass will spend a lot of time at creek ends in the early spring because the rivers bring oxygen to the larger bodies of water. They will sit there and absorb the oxygen as well as anything else that floats down the river. (including your bait)
The most important factor to remember is that water clarity is everything. Most of the time, bass need to locate this lure with their eyes if you expect them to strike it. It doesn’t make a lot of noise, and it doesn’t create a super bright flash, especially if you’re not in clear water.
As a result, fishing early spring could prove to be a challenge if you have snow runoff because that creates highly murky conditions.
Choosing the Best Jerkbaits for the Situation
The first thing you’ll have to choose is the diving depth. This requires you to know a little about the water you’re fishing and the depth of it. The goal is to get above or on the same level of the bass you’re trying to catch. In knowing that, I always go more shallow than I think I need to.
If I think the bass are hanging out around 8 feet, I won’t go with a deep diving jerkbait because I might run deeper. I’ll go with a shallow 2-3 feet because I know I’ll dive down to 5-6, which is closer to where I want to be.
Color is a no-brainer, and I always preach the same recommendations on this. Go with what makes sense. If there’s a huge shad population where you’re fishing, that would be the color I would choose. If the water is a bit murkier than you like, but you’re still smitten on fishing a one of these, go with something bright so you can grab their attention.
I always suggest using a bit of your own judgment with color because I don’t know where you are and what the conditions are. There is no bottom line rule to follow pertaining to lure color.
A Little More About Jerkbait Design
Here are a few little last-minute thoughts about choosing a jerk. Remember that these are my opinions based on experience, and every angler has different thoughts. I go with a two treble hook setup (which is why I mostly recommended those above). I’m a sketchy angler, and I always believe in treating the bass as if they’re smarter than they actually are.
I would rather take my chances on setting the hook then spooking the crap out of them and barely even getting a nibble all day.
As for size, I find that most hard jerk sizes depend on the style and type. A deep diving lure typically has a longer profile with more of a torpedo shape than a floater or shallow water.
Gear to Use When Fishing a Jerkbait
As for rod and reel preference, I wouldn’t overcomplicate things because you’re responsible for the presentation anyway. I’d go with a standard medium-heavy rod with fast action. If you’re throwing extra small jerks like some small soft ones, you could go with a spinning rod and reel combo, but I would still use a casting rig if possible.
Let’s have a little test. What do you think is the best line for jerkbaits?
Remember that presentation is everything, and you need a line heavy enough to create the proper dive and suspension.
If you said an 8-10 pound fluorocarbon line, congratulations because you’re correct. The reason I recommend this line is because you want something that will disguise well in the water, which is fluorocarbon, and the 8-10 pound test will work well at creating the right presentation.
These lures are solid, and every angler should have a few on them at all times. The best jerkbaits will appeal to a specific fishing opportunity, and there isn’t much that separates one from the other. In this case, I would stay loyal to a brand you respect, and for me, that’s Rapala, Strike King, and Smithwick.
I’d suggest checking out any of the lures recommended above because they’re well respected and trusted by anglers everywhere. Thanks for reading!