Capt. Ethan Hamrick
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Before we look at all the option, let’s talk about exactly what a jerkbait is.

What exactly is a jerkbait?

Hard jerk baits are designed to suspend in the water column and sit in the strike zone for long periods of time. They are a great choice for targeting suspending fish and are one of the most productive lures throughout the winter months. Jerk baits imitate struggling shad extremely well and can be retrieved at a pace that entices even the most sluggish bass into biting.

Our Top Pick

Rapala Shadow Rap Jerkbait

The Rapala Shadow Rap Jerkbait is an inexpensive, extremely effective lure for winter bass fishing. This jerkbait doesn’t break the bank, as it’s more than half the cost of the many of the other jerkbaits on the market. However, it still retains the same great action as it’s more expensive counterparts. When utilized properly, it’s super erratic darting movement is too much for bass to resist and can entice even the most finicky fish in the lake!

Our Runner-up

Rapala Ripstop 09 Jerkbait

Insert picture of Rapala Ripstop 09 Jerkbait

The Rapala Ripstop 09 is another great option when selecting the correct suspending jerkbait. There awesome little lure is built with only two treble hooks instead of three, yet still has extreme erratic action. It stops on a dime when paused and imitates fleeing or injured baitfish very well. I will often turn to this jerkbait when fishing in an area where the forage is smaller to better match the hatch!

Other Good Options

Other reliable options when selecting the right suspending jerkbait include:

Each of these lures also has great, erratic action and all of them can entice even the most sluggish bass.

Rapala Shadow Rap 11 Deep

If fishing water deeper than eight feet or if you know bass are suspending deeper, try going to a deeper diving jerkbait to reach those fish. Several deeper diving jerkbaits that I love include the Rapala Shadow Rap 11 Deep, the Strike King KVD Deep Jerkbait, and the Rapala Ripstop 12 Deep.

4 Best Jerkbait Colors

When choosing jerkbait colors, I like to focus on four basic patterns, including:

  • See through or ghost
  • Shad
  • Elite pro blue
  • Bone or pearl

Each of these color patterns excel in most bodies of water during the winter and throughout the year. Bass pick up on these lighter colors better than darker colors in clear bodies of water.

If I’m fishing a jerkbait in water that is a little bit stained, I may mix in a lure with a shade of black, because it provides a better silhouette, or even a gold lure, which would give off more flash in stained water.

4 Tips for Fishing a Jerkbait

1. Water Clarity is Key

Because jerkbait fishing is a very visual technique, jerkbaits tend to excel in clean or clear fisheries, where the visibility is greater than 2-3 feet. Anything less than that, and it’s probably too murky for fishing a jerkbait effectively. That doesn’t necessarily mean jerkbaits won’t catch fish in lightly stained bodies of water, I just usually turn to a different lure, such as a crankbait or spinnerbait, in those situations.

2. Retrieving a Jerkbait

A good rule to go by when jerk bait fishing is that no matter the time of year, the colder the water, the longer the bait should be paused to suspend. Typically, if the water is less than 60 degrees, I’ll start with a couple short jerks, followed by a 3-5 second pause and then another jerk. I will alter my retrieve if the water is a little colder or a little warmer and let the fish tell me how they want the lure presented. I usually won’t ever pause a jerkbait much more than 10 seconds, and that’s if the bite is very slow.

Anglers should fish a jerkbait on a slack line. In other words, they should be sure that there is slack in their line after each jerk. Having slack in the line allows a jerkbait to suspend correctly and stop on a dime, while also giving the bait the proper action and appearance to bass.

I will usually fish a jerkbait with my rod pointed toward the water, which allows me to fish the bait deeper. Occasionally, I will give my rod an upward jerk to make the lure dart toward the surface. That upward movement can oftentimes trigger strikes.

3. Proper Tackle

When jerkbait fishing, I prefer a 6’-10” fast action baitcasting rod with quite a bit of give and a light tip so I can feel even the lightest bites. I pair that rod to a fairly fast action reel, preferably one with a 7:1:1 gear ratio or higher. I spool that reel with 10-15 pound fluorocarbon line. The clearer the water is and the deeper I’m fishing, the lighter I’ll go.

If you aren’t comfortable using baitcasting gear, throwing a jerkbait on a spinning rod will also work. For spinning tackle, I like a 7’ rod paired to a 3000-size reel with a 6:4:1 gear ratio. I usually spool braid on my spinning reels for jerkbait fishing because it allows me to cast farther and easier. Then, I’ll tie a 10-15 pound fluorocarbon leader to that braid for added sensitivity and to disguise the braided line.

4. Focus on Hard Strurture

When jerkbait fishing, target areas where bass tend to suspend, such as primary and secondary points, drop-offs and ledges.

Wind-blown banks are another great place to try because wind makes it harder for a bass to tell the difference between your lure and the real thing.

Anglers can also find success with a jerkbait along hard struture in the backs of creeks or around shoreline cover, such as laydown trees, rocks, docks, seawalls and brush piles.

Give Jerkbaits a Try

Be sure to give jerkbaits a try the next time you find yourself on a clear body of water.

Fish them shallow, fish them deep, fish them around cover and in open water. Vary the speed of your retrieve until you dial in a solid pattern. If you can, try to make yourself stick with a jerkbait for a good majority of your time on the water and see how well you can improve your skills with it. You might be surprised at how many bass you may catch!

Try several different types of jerkbaits and let us know which one works best for you!

If you have any questions, leave a comment down below!


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