How do you fish a Jerkbait?

Started by Mike Cork, December 28, 2010, 02:12:36 PM

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Mike Cork

Just wrote and article for the site about some thoughts I have with jerkbaits. Mostly just a quick guide to how I get started. What are some of your ideas on how to fish jerkbaits? When, where, what kind of water temps work best for you...

Let's read what you got, lord knows I could use to learn a few new tricks on the subject as well :-*

Fishing is more than just a hobby

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Very good write up Mike, starting in November on Caddo I will throw the old Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue reeling it down until it taps the grass. I use a slow steady retrive and when it gets in the grass I stop and let it float out and reel again with a stop and jerk jerk every now and then. I do change the hooks on the old rogue as I have had to many straightened.
12.30 lb. LMB my best, B.A.S.S. Lifetime Member 1972


   Great job Mike but you always do. As far as weighting jerkbaits I prefer nose down the theory is that way they run into a face full of hooks when they hit the bait.
A fish a day keeps postal away. See fishing is relaxing.  Member B.A.S.S.  Illinois B.A.S.S. Federation Nation


I start using them in water in the 45 degree range in early spring I fish a Rapala Flat Rap in clown mostly and I will fish around rip rap and concrete structure. I will rip it hard and fast then let it rest for around 15 seconds then rip it hard again. Then later spring early summer I us it around rip rap and grass and just rip it fast 2 or 3 times rest for a second then do it over till back to the boat. Works really well for me caught my personal bests last year doing this. Soft jerkbaits I will use light weighted hook and just dart it around and let it sink for a second then dart it again around all wood structure and grass all year except when its cold water. I am going to try a soft jerk bait out on a shakey head rig this year I have heard good things from this technique. Hope this helps some. ;D
"Kistler Rods Team" "Eye Crossin Custom Lures"  "Fishwhittler Custom Lures" "Knawbone Jigs" "Big River Tackle"


I have not read the article yet but I will. I love hard jerkbait fishing.  Its one of my favorite bites and one that IMO not too many guys use.  I was always intimidated by jerkbaits and would try them for about five minutes here or their and when I did try them I used them in the dead of summer.  Then one day I pulled a Shad colored Xrap out of my box in the very beggining of the year, water temps around 45 to 47 degrees.  I had bait and bass all over my screen so I thought, what the heck.  I throw it for about 20 minutes with nothing.  Then on my last cast I thought I got it stuck in a log,  I pulled it and it started moving. I got it in and it was a 3.8lb chunk.  At that point I was hooked (no pun intended) on jerkbaits.  I love the strike. Its different then any other bait we fish.  So after about 4 years of refining how I fish them this is what I do:

I first feel way more comfortable with a spinning rod.  7 Ft St Croix Medium Action with a Pflueger President Reel and depending on the day, 8 to 12 lb test floro.  I like the spinning rod because I feel I get way more SNAP as compared to my baitcasters.   I also like a rod with a soft tip and that medium action.  My choice of jerkbaits are now 100% between SPRO McStick and the Xrap.  I start throwing them as soon as the ice gets off the water  and I can get out.  I will throw them from 45 degrees to about 57/58 degrees.  Can you catch fish on them in warm water?  Yes.  Is it dependable as other lures when it warms up? Not that I have found, yet.  How do I work them?   I back of points and ledges about two full casts off the bank.  I get a long cast, I reel to pick up slack and then I snap the rod tip violently about three or four times.  Then let it sit. Sometimes I let it sit for 3 seconds other times 10 seconds, then three or four more snaps of the rod then sit again.  I work a cadence until I find what they want.   When they hit it honestly feels like your stuck in a log each and every time.  Its a different bit for sure. All I can say is hold on because this lure generally doesnt bring small fish.  I dont for the life of me understand why it works better in cold water but it just does.  Like I said it works in warm water but the size fish dwindles drastically when the water temps get past that 57 degree mark.  That when I go to traps, spinners and soft jerk baits. 

Thats all I got.  Off to read that article. 


Owner/Sales/Installer at


Great info Clarker. This is basically how I feel about a jerk bait Rapala is my go to lure but im going to try bomber and strike king some this year. I had two tournaments one in march 45 degree water where I had no fish and the last 10 minutes of the tournament we literally had a 5 minute drive back so in 5 minutes of 10 I through my flat rap as much as possible on the last cast bam!!!! a nice bass got it but I did think I was stuck on a log or thick veg. that was my first bass on a jerkbait and I loved it. The second time it saved me was in may water temp 78 most of the day no fish had 2 hours left I took my flat rap out around rip rap and just ripped it and ripped it as frantic as possible and on third cast a 3 pound 14 ounce bass took it. They do seem to be big fish catchers.
"Kistler Rods Team" "Eye Crossin Custom Lures"  "Fishwhittler Custom Lures" "Knawbone Jigs" "Big River Tackle"


second the thanks Clarker!  Excellent explanation, detail in the even I can duplicate that... lo

Mike, I don't fish jerkbaits in winter up here...mostly cause our bass are too small to be able to pound through 8-12 inches of ice...

But in the spring (mid-March/April) I like fishing them along steep banks...typically on baitcasting rod (6-6 Medium Crucial) with 10#, it seems the fish want it almost I try to work it like a 'horizontal jig'...working the line/lure kind of like a spook (quick pull, put slack back in the line)...the pulls in mid to high 40 degree water are very short, kind of 'soft'...I just want the Xrap, Rogue, Husky Jerk, LC Pointer to 'roll/flash' without 'darting'...just wanting to utilize the rattles and the visual 'flash' to attract cruising/flushing bass...(I believe they're moving through as opposed to being 'stationary')...

fish here are northern strain largemouths...not I don't do the KVD frantic bait thing...much.

Stump bumper

Great tips and I also like the slow falling nose down when the water is cold then once the water warms up to about 60 I like the slow rise on the pause. All these adjustments can be made by adding a split ring to the front or adding heavier split rings and hooks. In colder water I will use big heavy VMC hooks then as it gets warmer put the Gammys back on.

I have found that I have pulled stripers off a point using a steady retrive then worked a twitch, twich pause and pulled 6lb largemouth off the same point.

Jane Netcraft 78s and 100s and H2O slinder jerkbaits have replaced most of my Rouges and pointers now, they seem to work as good as the LC and I can get 5 for the price of one luckycraft and the way those 30lb stripers tear up a bait, it is a lot eaiser on the wallet.
Beaver Lake  Arkansas


Hey Wayne  love them rouges on caddo too. What hooks are u using to replace the old ones? I need to do the same on a couple.


I have been happy with the Mustad Triple Grip Wide Gap Treble or the newer KVD Elite Treble, pretty much the same hook. KVD Elite has a shorter shank which will allow you to over size your replacement hooks without them tangling.
12.30 lb. LMB my best, B.A.S.S. Lifetime Member 1972


I fish my jerkbaits year round.  I live in Louisiana, and can say that I fish a jerkbait in water warmer than 57 degrees on a regular basis since our beautiful and relentless climate down here rarely enables the water to be sustainably cold for extended periods of time...  I got into jerkbait fishing when I took a trip to Lake Amistad.  It was there I saw the benefits of always having one on the deck.  The guy I was with was throwing a Megabass Ito Vision 110, and we were fishing treetops in 50ft of water near a creek channel, and the bass would come up and slam it.  I threw swimbaits, c-rigs, big worms, spinnerbaits, and nothing else came close as far as hook ups went.  From there I brought that knowledge back here, and fish one regularly with great success.  Below is how and what I use to fish mine.

I primarily use the Megabass Ito 110 and Stacey King Lucky Craft Jerkbait.  They have good actions, but I will be trying the McStick in short time. The KVD Wild Shiner is okay, but lacks the action of the previously listed models.  I throw mine on either 6'6" Spinning or Baitcast setups, with 10lb flurocarbon.  The smaller flurocarbon gives that "head pointed down" action I like, plus it holds the jerk better in suspension IMO.  Medium action rods are a must to me because of the enhanced snap. plus it generates more forgiveness allowing you to properly "jerk" the bait instead of pull it.  As the water warms I work it faster to boat with pauses, and in the summer time I work it as fast as I can without stopping.  That might go against popular belief as far as presentation goes, but I find that retreive super deadly when working points.  My $0.02...
"Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" 
-Rev. 2:10
"Get the....wait we don't have a net?"


Good read Mike, thanks.  I am no expert on jerkbaits by any means.  In fact, going into the 2010 season one of my goals was to fish them more regularly and, hopefully, become more proficient with them.

For tackle, I tried a couple of different set ups but settled on a Med power, fast action, 6'6" casting rod with 10 lb test P line flouroclear.  I felt I had better control with the shorter rod compared to a 7 footer, while I went with the fluoroclear because of its a sinking line with a slightly slower sink rate and better management qualities than pure fluoro. 

I started using the jerks right after ice out and continued throughout year.  What I found was that they were especially effective fished parallel to weed lines , downed trees, seawalls etc.  In the spring smaller baits such as the Pointer 78 seemed to work better while as the season  progressed larger baits produced more.  I used pointers, xraps and long A's primarily.  During the coldest water temp times, early spring and late fall, slow retrieves worked best.  I would make a hard jerk to get the bait down to its depth, and then slowly move the lure with almost soft jerks, almost a sweeping motion, then pause (sometimes up to 15 seconds), twitch, pause again, soft jerk etc.  As others have said one of the keys seemed to be to find the right cadence.  One thing I found was that if I found an area where the bait suspended just off the bottom, sometimes grinding it into the bottom, could be a dynamite pattern. 

As water temps warmed, I began using shorter pauses and more of a hard jerking motion.  This seemed to trigger strikes from aggressive fish.  Grinding the bottom was less effective than earlier in the season.  Once water temps were consistently above 60, the effectiveness began to go down and  quite honestly I used them less and less.  When temps started dropping in the fall though, I found again that the jerkbaits were often very productive.  The pattern was the reverse of the spring, started out fishing the lures fast and hard and as temps dropped went slower and softer.   The biggest difference between the spring and fall was the size of the lures that worked best as the larger xraps and long a's worked better than the shorter baits.

One other thing I found, was that more natural colors worked the best.  We have a lot of perch and bluegills in the waters I fish, and baits in darker colors with orange and gold produced well while whites, silvers, chartreuse and other bright colors would bring few if any bites.

Attitude predicts altitude.  How high will you fly?

Mike Cork

There is some great input here folks :toot: Keep it coming  ~c~ ~c~

Fishing is more than just a hobby

Dobyns Rods - Monster Fishing Tackle
Cork's Reel Service