Informational Guide

How To Fish A Jerkbait

When you are ready to learn how to fish a jerkbait, check out our guide below!

by Andrew

Informational Guide

How To Fish A Jerkbait

When you are ready to learn how to fish a jerkbait, check out our guide below!

by Andrew

by Andrew

Jerkbait fishing is a great way to catch bass, no matter the weather. These lures are some of the best for cold water, making it easy to go out and catch bass and other fish no matter the time of year you want to get out on the water.  

When you are ready to learn how to fish a jerkbait, check out our guide below! 

A jerkbait is simply a lure that is similar to other bass lures that an angler may choose. Many jerkbaits will have a lip that is similar to a crankbait, but it will be fished differently than the crankbait. They will excel the best when the water is between 45 to 65 degrees, making them a good choice when the weather has gone down a little.  

Read On: Types Of Fishing Lures (Most Common Types Explained)

There are two different forms of jerkbait that the angler can use, and understanding each one will help ensure that the lure will do the work that it should. These two types include: 

Hard Jerkbaits 

Hard jerkbaits will be slender and long lures that will have a lip fitted to them. Most will come with two or three treble hooks attached. Some brands will have a jointed body, but it is more common to find the body in one piece. These are used for fishing near the surface because they will float level to the water.  

Soft Jerkbaits 

Anglers can also use soft jerkbaits. These are newer and tend to solve a major problem of the hard jerkbaits getting stuck in heavy cover, making the angler use the fish. These soft baits will be made out of plastic with many different colors. The action on the soft baits is the best part of using these. They are designed to be unstable, following an erratic path underwater to make them more believable than the hard baits.  

How To Fish A Jerkbait (Tips For All Seasons & Species)

Factors That Affect Your Catch When Jerkbait Fishing 

There are several factors that will affect the type of fish that you can catch with jerkbait fishing. You may be able to influence the catch by waiting for all three of these factors to be perfect before going out. The most common factors include: 

Water Temperature 

The best water temperature for jerkbait is between 38 to 50 degrees. You can fish in warmer temperatures, but you will need other weather conditions to be present. For example, if it reaches 50 to 70 degrees, you will need to have cloudy weather and winds between 15 to 20 mph to activate the base. If the weather gets over 70, there needs to be a lot of wind to help the bass come out.  

Water Clarity 

The clarity of the water will help determine how active the bass are. Usually, the less visibility present in the water, the more the bass will come out. For example, if you have more than 4 feet of visibility with water between 38 to 50 degrees, you will need a cloudy sky to help activate the bass. If the water is the same temperature and has under 4 feet of visibility, light winds with partly cloudy is the best.  

Species of Bass 

The type of bass that you are fishing with this method will matter too. Some will like bad weather before they venture out to get any of the lures that you set. Others may be more active when it is sunny out too. While the weather does not have to be bad, most bass like some cloudiness and wind to hide under when they come out.  

Learn More About: Bass Fishing Tips: How To Catch & Fish For Bass

How To Fish A Jerkbait Correctly 

Now it is time to fish a jerkbait the right way. There are several steps that will help you get this done, and beginners may choose a different lure compared to someone who fishes all the time. The steps an angler can use to jerkbait includes: 

1. Choosing The Jerkbait 

The first step is to choose the right jerkbait. As a beginner, it is best to use a floating jerkbait. These will float and make it easier to see the lure and to avoid some of the obstacles that can be under the water. Suspending jerkbaits are a good option for those who would like to fish at a specific depth to catch certain fish.  

Natural-colored jerkbait will be the best in most cases. This helps it to blend in with the murky or cloudy water that you want. Some professional anglers will use a colorful one, but this is harder because it does not look like traditional minnows.  

2. Finding The Ideal Conditions 

While many anglers like to fish in the warm waters of summer, it is actually better to jerkbait in cold and static water. Jerkbaits are designed so they can mimic the movements of minnows who are wounded. Bass are very aware of how these minnows will move and like to strike in the cold water when it is harder for minnows to swim off. These jerkbaits can do well in any season if you want, but cold water is often the best.  

Anglers should use the jerkbait in open water that does not have a lot of vegetation. This helps prevent the lure from getting stuck in all of the vegetation that may be hidden. Avoid fishing near shores or ledges so that you can avoid things like shrubs, stumps, and grass getting in the way. Deep underwater channels are a great place to do this.  

Learn More About: The Ideal Fishing Times

3. Reeling The Jerkbait 

It is time to start fishing! You can cast the jerkbait where you plan to fish. Hold the rod to one side and allow a foot of the line to dangle off the front. Always have a thumb on the reel spool here. Aim to cast your bait 40 feet to the area you want to fish.  

If possible, you can cast the jerkbait where there is a school of bass. These fish tend to be really aggressive hunters and are more likely to go after your lure. They are more likely to come after your lure when you do this.  

After casting, jerk the line down to help the jerkbait dive into the water.

Hold the rod straight from the body, and then dip the tip of your rod down sharply. This helps move the jerkbait forward and downward a bit. This helps to make the lure look like it is moving. Let it sit there for about 15 seconds. This mimics the movement that cold minnows will use. You may need to play around with this a bit.  

various jerkbaits to choose from

Do these hard jerks two more times to move the lure around. This helps to mimic the movements of the lure. Then let it sit for another 30 seconds. This is all about patients and mimicking the movements of a small fish. Repeat this until the bait is back to the boat and then recast. After four times of doing this, pick a new location to fish.  

If you do get a bite, wait until the bass has struck the bait two or three times to make sure they have a good hook on it. Reel the bass in when that happens, giving it time to wear itself out on the way to the boat. 

Related Article: 7 Best Jerkbait Rods: Compared For Fishermen

Jerkbait Fishing For Every Season 

  • In Fall 
    The cool water of fall is a good time for jerkbaiting. The bass will come up in the winter for one more binge feeding. Pick a cool day with some wind and bring the spinner and swim baits along with you to catch your fish.  
  • In Spring 
    Bass fishing will pick up in the spring. The warm water helps to speed it up, but it can be a little on and off because of spawning. Be prepared to use larger lures during this time. The bass will want to fatten up for all those spawning activities. You will need to fish during spawning areas for the best results.  
  • In Winter 
    In the winter, you will need to jerkbait in deeper waters. The fish will slow down, and you will need to go where they are. Consider fishing near ledges and in some underwater covers like walls and wood where the fish will be located. It may be slow going during this season, but it will pick up.  
  • In Summer 
    Jerkbaiting can be fun in the summer, as long as the water does not get too warm. Most lures are going to work during that time but try to pick a day that is a little cloudy and has some wind to really bring the bass out.  
Jerkbait with baitcaster

Common Jerkbait fishing Questions

Is a jerkbait topwater? 

The jerkbait is not considered a topwater lure. You also will not be able to reel it back to the boat quickly like the crankbait. It has its own retriever that you will need to learn, and this retrieve has to be done while the lure is under the water along with the rod you use.  

What is the difference between a jerkbait and a crankbait? 

There are several differences between a crankbait and a jerkbait. To start, the crankbait will often have a shorter, fatter body shape, and it comes in several styles for the diving bill. The jerkbait is recognizable for having a slender body. Jerkbaits can be used during all months of the year, but they are most often brought out in the winter, while the crankbaits are better for the summer 

Related Article: 8 Best Crankbait Rods On The Market

What is the best line for jerkbaits? 

Monofilament line is seen as the best type of line for jerkbaits. This line will provide some good stretch that will keep them from ripping the hook points out of the bass. In other types of fishing, this flexibility is a bad thing, but for jerkbaiting, it can keep the bass you are catching alive.  

What gear ratio is best for jerkbaits? 

To get the best out of jerkbait fishing, you need to also choose the best gear ratio. While this will vary depending on what works the best for you, most agree that using a 6.3:1 ratio is the best option. If you need to change it, it is best to have the ratio slightly higher than that for the best results.  


Jerkbaiting is a great way to get out to the lake and catch some good bass. It does take some patience and technique to get started, but it is a fun way to start fishing and make sure you get the bass you want!