Fishing a jerkbait can be a fantastic way to locate fish and catch a limit in short working order. A jerkbait fished correctly will imitate an injured baitfish like no other bait. By using a jerk, jerk, pause presentation you will make your lure jump and dart then pause like a injured minnow or shad. If you use a continuous jerking motion you will effectively imitate a fleeing baitfish that doesn't want to be eaten.

Jerkbaits are a great lure choice no matter what species of fish you are chasing whether it's striped bass (rockfish), largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, or your favorite saltwater species a jerkbait will catch almost any predator fish. The reel key to a jerkbait is they play on the natural instincts of fish to eat a dying or injured baitfish. Often a strike to a jerkbait will be brutal due to the fish trying to kill the baitfish with their head. Often when fishing a jerkbait your hooks will be in the top of their head or side so keep your hooks extremely sharp.

Top 5 Jerkbait Patterns

  • Early Spring - In the early spring I wouldn't be caught dead without a jerkbait tied on my rod when chasing bass. Bass in the spring will suspend and feed on baitfish and often these baitfish will be stunned due to a lake turnover event. When this happens shad will be swimming injured and often on their side and a jerkbait imitates this behavior perfectly. To fish in the early spring you will want to use a suspending jerkbait with a jerk, jerk, long pause pattern. The bass will often strike when the bait isn't moving at all.
  • Summertime Points - Early morning and late evening in the summer will bring fish to structure like points to feed and a jerkbait can make quick work of feeding bass and other fish that come to points.
  • Deep Water - In the summer fish will often suspend in deep water and a deep diving suspending jerkbait can target this fish quite well especially if the fish are feeding on baitfish like shiners or smelt. If your targeting walleye in deepwater trolling a deep diving jerkbait will often pick up some very large walleyes that are making the thermocline their home during the summer months.
  • From the Shore - Whether your fishing from a jetty, or the surf for striped bass, or wading the flats in search of nighttime walleye a jerkbait should always be a first choice. When fishing from the shore you will want to use either a steady retrieve or a continuous jerking motion. If you are fishing from the surf you may want to consider tying on a teaser fly ahead of your jerkbait such as a large clouser or bucktail fly.
  • Fall - During the fall bass and other predator fish will feed and feed heavy and are looking for an easy meal and what could be easier than a injured baitfish. During the fall months bass will move to areas in large groups such as timber, bridge abutment, and humps and a jerkbait is a great way to determine where these schools are hanging.


Some excellent jerkbaits are Rapalas X-Rap, Husky Jerk, and Floating Minnows, along with Smithwicks, and a Bomber Long A.