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Jerkbaits for Walleye


Fishing jerkbaits for walleye allows you to over a lot of water when either casting or trolling.

Whereas a crankbait has a very aggressive diving lip and a more stout body a jerkbait is generally considered any long slender bodied minnow imitator.  

They have a less aggressive swim action than a standard crankbait.

Some anglers will describe these types of lures as stick baits, unfortunately that term can mean different things to different people.

For me a jerkbait is a shallow diving stick bait or minnow imitator that needs the rod tip to be twitched and “jerked” to add a lot more life into it’s action.

There is also a slight pause between twitches that allows the jerk bait to suspend or float in a stationary position for a moment.

That twitching is deigned to make the lure dart and twitch from side to side in a fairly random manner.

It replicates a small bait fish stopping and starting as it darts from side to side.

Jerkbaits for Walleye

Jerkbaits are ultimately about imitating the movement of bait fish that walleye are prone to feeding on or to force a predatory strike.

You can drag them behind a boat on a long line at a constant speed or cast them in close to cover or other natural structures and twitch the rod tip to add extra life.

Early season means a slower speed, whereas when water temps hot up a fast speed will help to force a predatory strike out of more active walleye.

They have a fairly shallow diving depth unless you are using a jerkbait that is specifically designed for deeper running.

Casting Jerkbaits 

Casting jerkbaits really allows you to mix up the type of retrieve and swim action that you put into the lures.

When trolling chances are the swim action will remain fairly constant unless you are trolling in a zig zag like pattern or adding a twitch to the rod tip.

However, when using a cast and retrieve method you can pause the jerk bait for a slow count and then continue.

Twitching the rod tip on the retrieve is also very effective and this is commonly how bass anglers would use a jerkbait.

Like fishing any stick baits for walleye making the lure moves in a fairly random pattern will actually make it look a lot more natural.

Jerkbaits won’t dive much more than 5 or 6 feet when retrieved so it is a perfect technique to use when you know that walleye are holding at these types of depths or just below them.

Trolling Jerkbaits

Unlike trolling a crankbait such as a Shad Rap for walleye a jerk bait still needs some action put into it by twitching the rod tip.

So to get the best results you need the rod in hand when trolling to add that extra bit of movement into the lure.

When trolling at slower speeds you can pull the rod tip forward and then drop it back to the starting position again.

This will make the jerk bait swim forward quickly and then stop suspended in the water, this pattern then continues over and over as you troll.

More often than not you will get a strike as the lure has stopped and is sitting there suspended in the water.

For most anglers tolling means deep water only, however trolling for walleye can and should be done at a variety of depths.

It really all comes down to fine tuning the running depth of your lures to match where in the water column the walleye are holding.

Clearly the use of a fish finder is a massive advantage in this regard.

In shallower waters trolling a jerk bait is best done over an even bottom, so think sandy bottoms or gravel beds.

Also Read: Sauger vs Walleye

You can also troll along weed lines and break point in the shore line.

Deep water trolling when running jerkbaits is at it’s best during the summer months when walleye move to greater depths to escape the summer heat.

Early season walleye when water temps are under 60 degrees a slower trolling speed is best at roughly 1 to 1.5 mph.

Once the temperatures start to rise and walleye become more aggressive they will happily strike a lure when you are trolling around 2 mph.

Husky Jerk for Walleye

Of all of the jerkbaits available on the market today the Rapala Husky Jerk is considered the go to classic walleye jerkbait.

Rapala hand tune all of their lures for a near perfect swim action. The Husky Jerk has a brilliant slow roll or wobble that makes it look really natural as it swims through the water.

It is one of the best suspending jerkbaits and works well in a variety of situations and locations.

Tackle Considerations

Clearly most anglers will know that a trolling rod and reel is best suited to just trolling if you are looking to cast jerkbaits then you need a light enough setup to allow you to get a decent casting performance.

You can use a light spinning setup preferably a 7 foot walleye rod as it will allow you to get some decent casting distance when compared to a shorter 6 or 6’6″ rod.

In the early season I prefer to use monofilament as you are usually moving the jerk bait at a slower speed and mono has some in built stretch to it that acts as a shock absorber, which will make the action less pronounced.

Once you water temps pick up and walleye are more aggressive then I switch to braid as the main line always with a fluorocarbon leader.

Both fishing lines have little or no stretch when compared to mono so the swim action becomes a lot more aggressive and it has a bit more life to it as it moves through the water.