Mar 10, 2017

Jerkbaiting Basics…

A Springtime Technique for Big Bass!

By Glenn Walker

The history of jerkbaits, or stickbaits, can be traced back to a single bait, which at some point or another has more than likely been in every angler’s tackle box, the Original Floating Rapala. This simple, but very effective balsa wood bait was designed to mimic a minnow in the water. By varying it’s retrieve, anglers could cater to the bass’s activity level, and the end result, jerkbaits were born. Anglers have been using them ever since to target suspended bass.

Suspending jerkbaits have developed into many anglers’ go-to lure for the cold water periods during the spring months. This is based on the fact that you can fish them numerous ways and keep them in the effective strike zone for an extended period of time; a key element for trigging a sluggish bass into biting.

There are several ways you can fish a jerkbait. Each technique has a time and a place to help you put more bass in the boat. One way is to cast it out (let it sink if it’s a suspending) and just deadstick the bait. Then slowly reel it in and deadstick it again. Depending on the water temperatures and prevailing weather, the bass, although hungry, may be sluggish and a jerkbait just sitting there will tempt them into biting.

The second and more exciting way to fish a jerkbait is to cast it out and work the bait back to the boat by giving your rod a quick jerk. This method requires you to experiment and see exactly what the bass want in terms of how hard of a jerk, how many jerks in a row and how long of a pause you give your bait. Once you dial in your jerkbait presentation to the bass on that day, the feeling of jerk, jerk, pause and then WAM will be etched into your memory for years to come and have you wanting more!

The number of options that an angler has when buying a jerkbait may seem endless, but here are some options to help aid you when you are looking to fill your box with some new jerkbaits.

Luck-E-Strike RC STX: imparts two actions, when jerked hard, it darts, when slightly twitched, it only wiggles some.
Lucky Craft Pointer 100:
viewed by many as the staple jerkbait on the market and features a slow wiggle as it comes to rest.
Megabass Vision 110: highly sought after bait by tournament anglers and has a unique weight transfer system for making long casts and giving it a very erratic action.
Rapala X-Rap:
very fast and erratic darting action, shines when the water gets over 50 degrees.
Rapala Shadow Rap: a new player to the jerkbait playing field two years ago, this Rapala model has a unique slow, side-to-side sway and vertical fade as it is paused. This has become one of my go-to baits when targeting bass in extremely cold water, or when the bass have been bombarded by other baits recently.
Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue:
great suspending jerkbait and first to gain popularity, has a price tag for those just getting into the jerkbaiting game and its signature slow roll is tough to beat.
Yo Zuri Sashimi: with its unique color patterning, a different color is presented each time the bait is jerked.

The amount of vibrant and exciting color patterns that are available in jerkbaits is never ending, which is why it is important to select a few color patterns and stick to those. My top colors for fishing jerkbaits include: Clown, Table Rock Shad, White Pearl, Shad and a Perch imitating pattern. The time of the year, water clarity and forage of the body of water you are fishing will dictate what color bait you tie on.

When it comes to selecting equipment for fishing a jerkbait, anglers have two options; spinning or casting tackle. Some anglers, who rely on smaller jerkbaits and like the feel and action they are able to impart on the bait with a spinning rod, will select a 7’ moderate action spinning rod.

I myself, go with a casting rod, as it is comfortable for me to use and I have more confidence in fighting bigger bass with a casting setup over a spinning one. With today’s rods that are developed specifically for each application an angler sees on the water, a jerkbait rod will typically be 6’6” to 7’ in length. I like to use the Witch Doctor Tackle Voodoo (VDC70P3) Rod, as its medium power and moderate fast action will allow me to toss jerkbaits of all sizes. The unique Witch Doctor Tackle transitional graphite blank provides a lightweight rod that allows me to impart the needed action to the jerkbait I’m throwing.

I’ll pair my Witch Doctor Tackle rod with a Wright & McGill Victory II Casting Reel that I’ll spool up with Seaguar TATSU Fluorocarbon. If I want to achieve greater depths or a more subtle presentation with my bait, I’ll use 12 lb. test, while if I want to keep my bait up in the water column or fishing around heavier cover, I’ll use 15 lb. The TATSU is a Double Structured Fluorocarbon (DSF), which means two different Fluorocarbon resins have been blended together to deliver a line that is the ultimate in castability, sensitivity and abrasion resistance.

As you become more comfortable and rely on jerkbaits more and more, there are several more advanced things you can do to make your jerkbaiting experience a better one. The first thing you can do is swap out the stock treble hooks that come on the bait to high quality ones. By using premium hooks, you can increase your hook up ratio on these fish, especially in the spring when many times a bass, smallmouth especially, will just swat at your bait. I myself like to use the Lazer TroKar Extra Wide Gap Trebles in the spring when the fish may not be eating the bait, then using their Round Bend Trebles in the fall when the bass are eating the bait.

So before you head out this spring to do some early season bassin’, be sure to stock up on some jerkbaits, have the right rod, reel and line combination and you will greatly increase your chances for a banner day on the water!

Glenn Walker has been fishing tournaments for over ten years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos. He keeps busy fishing events across the Midwest and on the Mississippi River. Glenn's sponsors include: Bass Boat Technologies, Ducky Products, Humminbird, Jeff Belzer Chevy, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Plano, Rayjus, Seaguar, Simms, Snag Proof, T-H Marine, The Rod Glove, TroKar, War Eagle Custom Lures, Wright & McGill and Zoom Baits. For more information, check out or on Facebook at