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Guide’s choice: the 5 best jerkbaits for bass

Get the lowdown on the best five jerkbaits for bass from a professional fishing guide

Jerkbaits can be an effective tool to catch bass throughout the season from spring to winter.

They are a versatile presentation that can be utilized in a variety of methods to get the job done, and some excel at this more than others. So it is critical to choose the right jerkbaits if you want to land the big fish.

Our resident guide Shawn Chapin has put together his top five best jerkbaits for bass ranging from time-tested baits that have been on top for years, to the newest lures creating a stir in the bass fishing world.

Yo-Zuri Sashimi Shad

So, the Sashimi Shad does something Incredibly unique, the colors actually change as it moves. Yes, you heard me right.

With that incredibly unique attribute aside, it also have great details and looks very realistic, and like other jerkbaits features a feathered rear tail, and a ribbed body which aids in vibration.

The bass wont be able to tell the difference between this and a live shad, and it also has added rattles to call the fish in from far and wide.

On top of all these cool features the bait also has a great action, give it a few twitches and pops with your rod tip and hang on as this is one of the best jerkbaits for bass on the market.

Rapala X-Rap

The Rapala X-Rap jerkbait is one of the most versatile jerkbaits on the market and created quite a stir when it hit the market. It doesn’t take much to make this bait effective, and in the right hands, this thing is absolutely deadly.

The X-Rap has a feather tail on the rear treble for added action and triggering capabilities, and the “slashbait” action gives the X-rap jerkbait a darting, hard cutting, and aggressive action that is very unique and drives fish crazy.

 It also has a unique casting system, allowing for extremely long casting distances, along with an internal rattle that calls out to fish and brings them in from the immediate area and in low light conditions.

 The X-rap also suspends on the pause with a rolling action, allowing the bait to hang in place without rising on the pause, and the wobble creates for some explosive strikes.

The X-Rap jerkbait is many anglers’ favourite lure of all time and is a real go-to lure for fishermen when nothing else is working because they have trust in its fish catching ability.

StrikeKing KVD Series Jerkbaits

The Kevin Van Dam series of jerkbaits by StrikeKing were made with the help of the legendary tournament bass angler himself. There are several different models of the KVD series, but all have the same great ability to catch huge bass.

These jerkbaits have the perfect trifecta of actions to trigger fish to feed with a combination that is perfectly balanced, including bait roll, flash, and wiggle.

The StrikeKing KVD also has a weight transfer system design that allows for long-distance casting, even in windier conditions, features black nickel hooks, and comes in a massive range of colors and sizes to match the hatch in any location. A great addition to any tackle box.

Live Target Baitball Series jerkbait

The Baitball series of lures is hands down one of the coolest looking designs I have ever gazed upon. The baits have a clear body design that has multiple “baitfish” inside of them, giving the appearance of a group of baitfish swimming in a tight school vs a single baitfish.

This an exceptionally deadly presentation in the early spring and when used in clear water, when the bait is at its smallest size of the season. But they will prove deadly year-round.

This jerkbait has an excellent erratic action as well, further enticing bass to strike. And as usual, these baits come in a plethora of color patterns and sizes, even featuring other jerkbait types such as topwater baits and rattle baits.

Rapala Husky Jerk

Not only is the Husky Jerk one of the most popular and successful jerkbaits on the market from a company that is a household name in fishing across the world, it also is one of the most affordable.

Husky jerks are neutrally buoyant and are designed to suspend, meaning they will stay at the depth they are worked to with very little rise.

Husky jerks, like many suspending jerkbaits, have excellent castability and come in a variety of models with different lip sizes for shallow and deep water fishing applications. I don’t know if I want to count how many color options there are for the Husky Jerk, so I’ll just say that there’s a lot of them.

They also come in a wide range of sizes, all of these options are a true testament to their power and success on the water. Rapala has a great reputation for quality too. The fact that this is one of the top-selling jerkbaits of all time is testament to its effectiveness in a wide variety of fishing situations.

Lucky Craft Pointer

Lucky Craft is one of those companies that while being popular often fly under the average anglers’ radar, but the anglers who are in the know of the power of their baits will gladly tell you why they are one of the top brands on their lists.

Using brass weights the pointer has a very low center of gravity. This low center of gravity causes these lures to wobble and vibrate, even when the retrieve has been stopped or paused by the angler.

This jerkbait dives to a depth of 4-5 feet on a normal cast and generates an amazing walk the dog action when used properly with twitches and snaps of the rod tip.

The amount of color patterns is dizzying and is on par with Rapala, you will find something that will work anywhere.

What is a jerkbait?

A jerkbait is a long bibbed lure that can have either a hard or soft body and produces a shimmying side to side motion when retrieved. Jerkbaits are primarily designed to resemble an injured baitfish – something bass (like all fish) find irresistible.
As you might guess from the name, these lures need to be worked with a jerk and require deft work with the rod to create the best action to turn the fish on.
Jerkbaits come in a variety of sizes with three to five inch models the popular choices for bass anglers.
Most jerkbaits have a bib that causes them to dive slightly when retrieved. The main types of jerkbaits are: floating jerkbaits, suspending jerkbaits and sinking jerkbaits.
Different jerkbait models work at different depths, so bear this in mind when buying a suspending jerkbait or sinking jerkbait.

Types: soft jerkbaits and suspending jerkbaits for bass

Jerkbaits are made from hard plastic, softer polymers or wood (now less common).

They are durable lures that can be cast a long weigh as they are aerodynamic and weighted.
Most have either two treble hooks or three treble hooks hanging from the belly of the lure.
While most jerkbaits have a single cigar shaped body, there are articulated ones with two body sections. These can produce even more movement in the water.

Most jerkbaits have a small bib at the front to get them diving as well as shimmying from side to side. The bib provides some movement, but it is not like the large bid you’d find on a deep diving crankbait.

Some types of jerkbait incorporate a rattle in their design to give more fish attracting noise. This style of jerkbait be useful when water clarity is not great.
Soft bodied jerk baits tend to be more affordable and for that reason are a popular choice with many angler.
Other advantages of soft-bodied jerkbaits are that bass tend to hold on to them longer when they strike meaning your hook up rate can be higher, particularly if you add scent.

They can also be rigged Texas style so they can be fished in weed without tangles. And because they don’t have multiple sets of trebles, there is less risk of the bass dislodging the hook when it leaps after it is caught.

Why do Jerkbaits Work?

Jerkbaits work well in varying fishing situations and excel at certain presentations. They are great for mimicking baitfish and can be used very effectively when fished around real baitfish.
In most cases, anglers what to make the bait appear to be wounded or in distress, this triggers bass into eating, it stands out amongst the crowd of real baitfish this way and gives the appearance of an easy meal.
The ability to custom tailor a jerkbaits presentation by incorporating pauses, twitches, and rips, means you can adapt on the fly on any given day on the water, and to do this it’s important to let the fish tell you what they want, and simply rinse and repeat until conditions change.
Like crankbaits, jerkbaits can be used to effectively fish a specific depth depending on the model’s design, this makes it an incredibly efficient and precise tool when it comes to fishing suspended schools of bait, brush piles, rock, or other structure at any given depth.

What Colors do Bass Prefer?

The color debate is one that can get heated in many different angling communities for many species, not just bass. A good rule is to match the hatch for the lake or body of water your fishing.
In the northern regions like the Great Lakes and upper Midwest, this could be prey like gobies or Sculpin, or more common species like bluegill, baby walleye, perch, or chubs. In the Western or Southern regions, it could be trout, Shad, Tennessee Shad, and so on. So choose colors that match these prey items as closely as you can.
When in doubt black or dark colors will always work, as they have the best silhouettes and stand out better than other colors in any light conditions or water clarity.

What Size Should I Use?

This is another factor that really depends on a few things. Size, when you are jerkbait fishing, is determined by the season, water temperature and weather conditions your fishing in, the average size of forage in the area your fishing, and what the fish want.

An easy way to determine what size to use on a given day is as simple as fishing with a jerkbait that’s in the middle of the road, not too large, not too small. From there, you can fine-tune your presentation until you find what the fish are responding to the best.
When you are jerkbait fishing in the spring it’s a great idea to go small in the majority of cases, mid-sized to large in the summer, though at times, like when conditions are tough, smaller baits will outperform.

In the Fall, fish may key in on the larger baits, this is very true in the Northern Regions where Ice covers the lakes all winter and the fish tend to stock up on large meals in preparation for the long winter.

When Will Jerkbaits Outfish other Lures?

Jerkbaits will outshine other lures when it comes to precision fishing over or around structures at specific depths. Jerkbait fishing will also beat out other lure presentations (such as jigs, worms, topwater lures, swimbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits) in certain tough fishing times, particularly in clear water where the bait can be readily seen by hungry bass.
It all really depends on the fish, and as stated earlier it’s important to figure out with the bass are keying in on for any given day.
They can even work great in spawning situations, like fishing on shallow rock reefs for smallmouth when they are on beds, this is a personal favorite time to run jerkbaits.

 What is a good rod and reel for fishing jerkbaits?

Both spinning and baitcasting outfits can be used to fish a jerkbait. If anything, spin gear is probably more popular for small jerkbaits and baitcasting outfits for larger models of five inches and above.
However, as they have some weight to them baitcasting rods and reels are fine for small jerkbaits too.
The one area where baitcasting outfits are preferred is in fishing tight up against structure because an overgunned cast that is heading for the timber can be slowed or stopped by thumbing the reel.
With rod choice, a medium heavy rod with a fast action tip is the best choice. Keep the rod length between 6 and 7 feet as having a rod that is too long or too soft can compromise your ability to get that nice jerky retrieve that makes these baits so deadly.
This size and type of rod is also better for muscling bass out of heavy weed or sticks or other kind of structure.

How about line strength and type?

I like fishing fluoro with jerkbaits because it has the right combination of low visibility in the water and reasonable abrasion resistance. So in most cases I use fluoro, but as a leader with a braided main line for better casting distance. There is nothing wrong with using straight mono or straight fluoro to fish a jerkbait, but I prefer braid for casting distance and the low stretch quality of it allowing for better bite detection.
In terms of strength, 8lb or 10lb is good for bass fishing in most situations.

Conclusion

Jerkbaits are effective lures that work in key situations at specific times. Once you witness the power of a properly used jerkbait you will be hooked, and you will eventually recognize when and where to use them when you are on the water. Choose one of these five best jerkbaits for bass and you’ll give yourself the best chance of hooking up next time you go bass fishing.

Shawn Chapin

Shawn Chapin is a fishing guide and expert angler from Wisconsin. Shawn's passion is muskie fishing but he's happy to chase a range of species and write about his exploits.

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