This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

How to Fish a Jerkbait

How to Fish a Jerkbait

​Jerkbaits really come into their own when the temperatures start to drop. How to fish a jerkbait is a common question among beginners.

A lot of beginners understand the concept but not always the finer details of the execution, there are a few factors that can seriously affect your success when fishing with a jerkbait that we will discuss in-depth below.

A Jerkbait is used to imitate a small bait fish, ​the majority will have a dive lip on them and they can be used with nothing more than a straight forward cast and retrieve.

As the name suggest when you add a little ‘jerk’ or twitch into the retrieve especially with a pause it is only then do they really start to shine.

That pause is one of the reasons why they are so effective in colder weather.

​Bass and other freshwater fish are considerably more sluggish in winter months and will favor a more slow moving, static lure much more than a fast moving one. 

When fishing a jerkbait for bass the aim is to get the lure down to the right depth, twitch it in a rhythmic fashion and then pause to allow the bass to strike.

​How to Fish a Jerkbait

1. Vary the Retrieve

​As discussed above the common jerkbait technique is to twitch, twitch and pause.

Two twitches and then a pause.

This is an unnatural movement pattern for the lure. Mix things up a little, twitch three times then pause, then one twitch and a pause.

Also vary the angle that your rod tip is pointing.

This will make the jerk bait move in a much more natural way. Twitch to the left a few time then the right and even directly to you.

If you are covering open water then cast in a fan like pattern to cover as mush water as possible.

Chances are the bass will hit your lure from beneath allowing for a decent pause will greatly increase your chances of a strike.

​2. Be Aware of Temperature

Water temperature will greatly affect the kind of depth that fish will be feeding in and also just how much energy they are willing to put in to catch a meal for themselves.

Bass will move to deeper waters in the winter as the temperature is a few degrees warmer the deeper you get.

They will also be considerably more sluggish during colder months. This is one of the reasons why a jerkbait for bass is so effective.

The pause gives them a chance to hit your lure without having to really chase it down and waste a lot of energy.

​Color choices in winter should also be more natural, save the brighter ones for warmer temps.

​3. Twitch on a Slack Line

Keeping your line taught whilst you twitch is not the correct technique for jerkbait fishing. Let that line go slack and allow the lure continue moving until it comes to a full stop.

Alloying the line to go slack means that the first twitch after the pause will always be some what different as you will have different amounts of slack accrued after each pause.

Far too many anglers concentrate on the twitching only, it is a two stage technique and never forget that.

4. Pause Longer Than You Think

A common mistake when using jerk baits is to only pause for the briefest of moments. Extend that pause by doing a slow count of one to three seconds.

Just like va​rying the retrieve you should also mix up how long you pause a jerkbait for. Remember you are trying to imitate the random movements of a small bait fish.

More often than not you as bass will attack your jerkbait on the pause so give it some time to really hone in on your lure.

​5. Vary Your Depth

Needless to say if you are not on a bass boat with a fish finder then you will be guessing as to the correct depth to run your jerkbait.

Varying the depth that you run at will also mean using a variety of lures whether that’s suspending jerkbaits or floating jerkbaits it’s always good to have a selection to hand.

As a general rule in colder waters you will end up running deeper and warmer summer months you’ll end up using topwater lures more often.

​6. Use Flourocarbon Line

Personally I consider flourocarbon as the best line for jerkbaits, you get the invisibility of mono combined with the stiffness of braid.

That being said if you are using a floating ​jerkbait and are only looking to target the very top of the water column then mono can be a good choice as it floats.

​It you do decide to use braid then make sure to use a flourocarbon leader as you’ll be working the lure over the top of the bass and they can see braid pretty easily from below.

​Do Jerkbaits Work in Summer?

Yes fishing a jerkbbait in summer works really well. Work the jerkbait with a higher speed than you would in winter and be much more aggressive when twitching it. 

You can also experiment with much louder colors as this will help draw in bass from much further away.

​Summer jerkbait fishing is all about color and flash so have a good selection of bright colors to hand.

​Is a Jerkbait Topwater?

No a jerkbait is not just a topwater lure it can be fished at a variety of depths and speeds. In winter months the deeper the better and in summer months you can use them in the top few feet of the water column.

​Tackle Considerations

When fishing jerkbaits you are not really tied using just a baitcasting rod a spinning rod can work just as well.

You’ll want a jerkbait rod with a fast action that will allow you to really transmit your twitching down to the lure. A medium to medium/light power rating will also help get the best action.

On really windy days I would choose a spinning combo as a jerkbait setup over a baitcaster as there is less chance of wind knots especially if you are using braid as a main line.

  • Updated October 16, 2021
  • Bass