A Guide to Bass Fishing Jerkbaits

Modern-day bass fishing jerkbaits were meant to mimic minnows struggling in cold water like when shad get stunned when the water temps near 40 degrees. When jerked, Jerkbaits feature erratic enticing actions that tempt both a bass's hunger and his impulse. They are essentially long slender minnow imitators with 2 to 3 treble hooks and ...

Modern-day bass fishing jerkbaits were meant to mimic minnows struggling in cold water like when shad get stunned when the water temps near 40 degrees. When jerked, Jerkbaits feature erratic enticing actions that tempt both a bass's hunger and his impulse. They are essentially long slender minnow imitators with 2 to 3 treble hooks and small bill. The bill helps them dive on a fast reel or hard jerk. You basically work the bait with a series of jerks and pauses in a cadences with your rod tip. Jerk it on slack line. Let it sit. Jerk it twice. Let it sit. Most strikes occur on the pause.



Today’s jerkbaits feature weight transfer systems that make a small minnow shaped lure easy to cast in the wind. Most have internal rattles to add to their drawing power. Some have amazing paint jobs, and baits like the Megabass Ito Vision FX Tour Premier even feature lips that fold and open to make them easier to cast while maintaining a good jerk cadence.

There are suspending models that will stay at the depth they dive to, while other floating models float back to the surface.

The baits may be 3 to 6 inches in length and dive anywhere from 0 to 14 feet depending on the diving lip and size of the bait. But they can catch bass out of deeper water if it's clear enough and the bass are looking up for food. A jerkbait has a very enticing call to bass even when it sits motionless for seconds at a time.

Left Side: Megabass Ito Vision 110 (custom painted), Spro McStick, Strike King KVD Slash Bait, Megabass Ito Vision 110 Jr. Right: Koppers BaitBall Shiner, Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue, Megabass Ito Vision 110 +1, Rapala X-Rap Deep Left Side: Megabass Ito Vision 110 (custom painted), Spro McStick, Strike King KVD Slash Bait, Megabass Ito Vision 110 Jr.
Right: Koppers BaitBall Shiner, Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue, Megabass Ito Vision 110 +1, Rapala X-Rap Deep

These are extremely effective baits in cold, clear waters where you can move them slightly and let them sit in a fish’s face, suspending neutrally buoyant, daring them to bite.

For a better idea of when to use each lure in your tackle box, check out our Bass Fishing Lure Selector Chart. For more information on bass fishing, see our How to Bass Fish GuideWhen to Bass Fish Guide and Where to Bass Fish Guide.

 

Jason Sealock with a big Kentucky Lake smallmouth on a Spro McStick jerkbait in March. Jason Sealock with a big Kentucky Lake smallmouth on a Spro McStick jerkbait in March.

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