Brief Guide for Fishing Jerkbaits for Bass
March 14, 2019 by Don Manning
Jerkbaits, or stickbaits as some anglers call them, catch fish. Spring and fall jerkbait fishing usually produces the best results when fishing these versatile bass fishing lures. Let's do a quick walk-through of the different jerkbait setups and cover some jerkbait tactics for bass fishing.
Fishing jerkbaits for bass is designed for one purpose. That is to mimic baitfish in cold water that are fighting to survive. These minnow imitators pop side to side and run erratic patterns when retrieved all to entice a reaction bite from a cold water bass. If you are going to be fishing jerkbaits for bass this spring or next fall, the setup, and tactics matter.
Two Different Jerkbait Setups
Jerkbaits can be soft or hard body baits. Generally, hard body baits are usually the best. Various jerkbait styles for bass include floating, sinking, or suspending. Just about every bass fishing lure company has some variation of jerkbait including the more widely know companies like Smithwick, Rapala, Lucky Craft, Megabass, and Strike King.
Floating baits are used in shallow water, 1- to 3-feet, usually. Floating jerkbaits are best suited for warm water bass fishing. These floaters can be worked really fast, then paused, or retrieved with a twitching motion just under the surface.
Sinking and suspending jerkbaits are used mostly for fishing deeper water and around structure. They can be counted down to the depth you are targeting and twitched or slowly reeled. The suspending baits are becoming the most popular of all the jerkbaits setups and are used in water from 4- to 20-feet. Suspending jerkbaits can be worked shallow or deep. They are neutral buoyant (or close to it) and will suspend at the depth you need to fish. This suspending action is what triggers bites. Most times you get bit when you stop your retrieve and let a suspending jerkbait sit motionless in the water. Bass can't resist it in cold water.
Pro Tip for Fishing Jerkbaits for Bass That Suspend
Even though you buy a suspending jerkbait, they do not always truly suspend. And if they do, you may want to change how they suspend. Bass in your home lake may react better when your jerkbait slowly falls or perhaps when it has a slight rise. Either way, here are ways you can modify your lures depending on which jerkbait tactics for bass fishing you need to get them to bite.
The other jerkbait setup many throw is the soft jerkbait. Soft jerkbaits are much more realistic and resemble bait fish better than hard-bodied style jerkbaits. These soft baits are usually fished in low clear water, during warm water conditions. They dart and dive, resembling an injured bait fish. One advantage of soft jerkbaits is they can be rigged weedless and fished in heavy cover without getting hung up. You can also rig them with or without weight, making them the perfect bait.
Jerkbait Setup | Rods, Reels and Line
Its time to think about the setup on which you will fish them now that you have a few jerkbaits for bass fishing ready. Similar to other bass fishing specific techniques, a rod, reel, and fishing line designed to throw these lures is important.
A medium or medium-heavy 6½ - 7-foot baitcasting jerkbait fishing rod with a fast or extra fast tip is ideal for working jerkbaits. Any high-quality brand rod will work. The fast or extra fast tip will help you control your lure whether you are working it from side to side or fishing a slower presentation.
Pair your medium to medium-heavy jerkbait fishing rods with a quality baitcasting reel with at least a 6:1:1 gear ratio or better. A higher ratio reel will help you keep up with slack line as you work lures at different speeds. They also help when fishing jerkbaits for bass all day.
Use as light as line as you can get away with. Fluorocarbon fishing line in sizes 6- to 10-lb test is recommended. Fluorocarbon fishing line is abrasion resistant and low stretch. Also, fluorocarbon sinks and is almost invisible to fish under water.
When and How to Fish Jerkbaits
Deciding if fishing jerkbaits for bass makes sense depends on two factors. First, the water needs to be clear. Jerkbait tactics are fishing for reaction bites. In dirty or stained water, bass cant see these lures as well as in clear water. The second factor is cold water. These lures perform the best when water temperatures are cold.
Hard-bodied jerkbaits are great search baits. Cast your bait out, point your rod towards your bait and reel it in. Reel your jerkbait to the desired depth, then start working it. Use your rod to jerk or twitch the bait, and pick up the slack with the reel. Remember, only use the reel to pick up the slack line, jerk or twitch with the rod. Let the fish tell you how long to pause. The pause is the key and how long you pause, usually depends on the temperature of the water. The colder the water, the longer the pause. In warm water, short pauses work better. Flukes or soft plastic jerkbaits are usually for fishing in shallow clear water. They are best suited for warmer water. They are worked fast, with a jerking side to side action. You can rig them with weighted or non weighted hooks, depending on the water depth. They also make for a great bank fishing lure since you can also rig them weedless for fishing in heavy cover.
Jerkbaits are very versatile baits and will catch fish in any conditions if you learn how to fish them. Build the right jerkbait setup and understand when and how to fish them. Fishing jerkbaits for bass should be one of your top lure choices in the cold, clear waters of the spring and fall.