How to Fish a Jerkbait – The Basics of Jerkbait Fishing

Nothing would be more pleasing to a predatory fish than an injured or struggling prey that is vulnerable and easy to chaste. This is what Jerkbaits do, they portray or imitate fish to look like they are unable to swim properly, incapacitated or something like that.

With this kind of visual presentation of bait underwater, bigger fish becomes more attracted and goes for it rather than chasing other potential meal. Jerkbaits? long, slim and fish-like appearance makes them the perfect candidate for the best underwater lure.

I prefer soft jerkbaits and uses them most of the times but only if the water is clear. Most anglers prefer using them during Spring but for me as long as I can see my bait 3 feet or more under the water it is good enough for me regardless what season it is.

The visibility of your bait is very important when using Jerkbaits, even if you reach 15 feet or deeper is not a problem as long as it's crystal clear down below, cause right there you can try different techniques on how to fish a jerkbait.

Things That You Will Need

Basic fishing equipment is needed during jerkbait fishing, however, choosing the right one is essential for an optimal fishing result. Here are some of these gears and tackle needed for jerkbaits.

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    Fishing Rod

The length of the rod is a personal preference but I will recommend a 6.10 ft spinnerbait rod to do the trick. Your fishing rod should be versatile enough to perform fast actions. It should have a lot of backbone and a decent tip to maximize your lure action when you snap it.

A rod with a shorter handle is more suitable because it can move freely every time you jerk your lure. Remember that jerkbait fishing is greatly dependent on your fishing rod so it is wise to choose the one you are most comfortable with.

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    Fishing Reel

Any high-speed reel can do the work, actually, there is no quiet distinction for the best reel in Jerkbait fishing. All your reel have to do is the retrieval of the line while the handle of the rod mostly does the popping or snapping of your lure to jerk your bait. 

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    Fishing Line

You will be needing a fishing line that is low in the stretch, that would sink, and strong enough to handle stress. A fluorocarbon line with 8 lb test is a good choice. If you want to go deeper, a 12 lb test fluorocarbon is best. It is tough and sensitive to bite.

One of the good characteristics of Fluorocarbon line is that it sinks and said to be capable of refracting light making it almost invisible in the water which is perfect for underwater maneuvering of your bait.

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    The Best Jerkbait?

Of course, you can not go Jerkbait fishing without the lure itself so make sure you have this one in your Tackle Box. There is a wide variety of Jerkbaits to choose from so let me categorize these lures so that we can identify it easily. There are two types of Jerkbaits and both have Pros and Cons that you should be aware of.

a, Hard Bodied Jerkbaits

Mostly are made from hard materials like plastic, polymers or wood with 2 or 3 hooks and lip. They are durable and can withstand stress from a repetitive beating from predatory fish. Hard bodied jerkbaits have three types; Suspending, Floating and Sinking Jerkbaits.

b, Soft Bodied Jerkbaits

Now when it comes to fooling fishes underwater this is the best. They present a more realistic and fishlike appearance underwater compared to any other lure. Though they are not as tough as the hard-bodied type, most anglers prefer to use it, especially for deep fishing.

To see how Jerkbaits performs and being presented underwater you better watch this video

Steps on How to Fish a Jerkbait

Jerkbait fishing is all about presentation of lure down below the water and this requires a lot of patience, good attitude, and action. Here are some of the basic step that you need on how to fish a Jerkbait.

1. Know Your Depth

Jerkbaits are meant to be taken by predators from below so knowing your depth is very important here. By knowing this you can identify if your lure is still effective on that part of water column you?re trying to fish.

Now this situation will bring you to select the right Jerkbait for such depth. As mentioned there are Jerkbait types that can go suspending and sinking where you can choose from.

2. Know the Best Time for Jerkbait Fishing

These lures can be used any time of the year but they are best where water temperature falls from 60 degrees or less. Spring time is the best season wherein pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn exists.

Fish activity starts to build up during this period where they swarm to bays, flats and creeks shallow waters where they are looking for an easy meal. Casting your bait at this time will surely make a catch.

3. Give Your Line Some Slack

A Slack line is a very important part of Jerkbait fishing because without it a poor presentation of the lure is often achieved.

Remember that Jerkbaits are meant to mimic an injured fish, and that is where the slack line comes in. It allows your lure to have the freedom of movement to go sideways left or right, or back and forth.

Reeling the line can only be done in between of jerking or popping action of the rod and not at the same time.

4. Keep up the Beat

The Jerking, Popping and Pause rhythm that you make is dependent on the climate at the time of fishing. When the water is cold you better slow down and at the same time when the water is warm a faster and more intense jerking and pause can be done. 

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    Coldwater: In here pause length is the key where patience and discipline are also being tested. Make a pause let?s say 10 seconds on your first cast, then try a longer pause to your second cast and so on. In this way you can determine the pause length it will take for the fish to bite your lure.
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    Warmwater: Fast jerking and lesser pause are required during this time so changing the rhythm from time to time will be a no problem to anyone.

Additional Tips

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    Do experiment with your cadence or rhythm to identify which one attracts more bites.
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    When it comes to color choosing it is best to match it to the forage in which predatory fish are eating. Examples are Brown Flash and Green Perch for early spring fishing while translucent colors are best for bright Sunny days.
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    An arsenal of different baits for different situations in your tackle box is a plus.
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    Practice your jerkbait in a pool while trying different techniques to master them.


When it comes to working well with the change of seasons Jerkbaits are the best. They are easy to use anytime, simple in design and works perfectly under certain situation. Unlike any other lures, this one makes the Angler becomes more creative in presenting them to bigger fishes in the water down below. For me, this will definitely have a special place in my tackle box.

I hope this article helps you in a lot of ways on how to fish a jerkbait. Please feel free to share any thoughts and ideas you have about Jerkbaits on the comment section below.

John Morris

Hi, I?m John Morris. I?m an avid outdoorsman and fisherman, blessed with an awesome wife and 2 kids. Fishing is not my passion, it is my lifestyle. I fished before I knew how to walk! I?m obsessed with all things related to fishing, even the fishy smell. I?m always willing to extend a hand to novice anglers looking for fishing tips and tricks thus I created this blog. This blog is a collection of my experiences, knowledge, and also research from other blogs.

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