How to Fish Using a Jerk Bait


A jerk bait is typically a slender bait which is either hard or soft. The hard variety may be made of wood or hard plastic, while soft jerk baits are made of soft plastic. Although there are minor variations as to how the baits perform in the water, the basic premise is for the bait to be buoyant and slow sinking. The objective is to fish the bait so that it mimics a wounded bait fish swimming through the water. Correctly fished, jerk baits can produce explosive results, particularly in regard to large mouth bass.

Things You'll Need

  • 5/0 offset worm hook (for 6-inch jerk baits)
  • 2/0 offset worm hook (for 4-inch jerk baits)
  • 6 1/2 foot medium action spinning rod
  • 6 lb. test line for 4-inch baits
  • 10 lb. test line for 6-inch baits
  • Jerk baits
  • Be sure to assemble the correct tackle for your needs. A good medium-action spinning rod is preferred, with a spinning reel rated for at least a 5:1 gear ratio. The reel should feature instant anti reverse for quick and positive hook sets. The line chosen should reflect the size jerk bait which will be fished. For example, when fishing a 4-inch bait, you should consider using a 6 to 8 lb. test line. When fishing 6-inch baits, move up to a 10 lb. test line. A low stretch line should be used as hook sets will be made while the bait is taken during pursuit.

  • When rigging for hard jerk baits, the process is fairly straight forward. The bait is simply tied onto the line and you are ready to go. An excellent knot for this purpose is the improved clinch knot. To tie the knot, pass the line through the eye of the lure. Bring the line back up along side the main line about 2 inches or so. Wrap the short line around the main line six to eight times and pass the end of the line through the line loop near the lure eye. This will create another loop between the top of the wrapping and the lure eye. Pass the line end back through this loop and cinch down. Moisten the knot for added strength.

  • Tie on a hook when using soft plastic jerk baits. When fishing a 4-inch bait, consider using a 2/0 or 3/0 offset hook. For 6-inch baits, go with a 5/0 offset hook. Attach the hook to the line using the same improved clinch knot and snug down as before. There are several excellent offset hook manufacturers, including Mustad and Gomagatsu.

  • Attach the soft plastic bait to the hook using a method known commonly as Texas Rigging. To accomplish this, insert the hook point through the top of the bait down toward the tail for about 1/2 an inch. Next push the hook through the bait and twist so that the hook point is now toward the mid point of the lure. You now need to push the tip of the hook through the mid section of the bait so that it emerges on the opposite side. It may help if you slightly bend the bait as you insert the hook. This will help the bait lay flat which is important for correct presentation in the water. Finally, slightly insert the tip of the hook just under the surface of the bait. This will prove especially helpful when fishing waters which contain any variety of weed or aquatic plant material.

  • Resist the urge to actually jerk the bait, as the name suggests. Once again, take your time. Remember, the best presentation of a jerk bait is to mimic a wounded bait fish that is slowly dying. When casting the bait, allow it to slowly settle in the water and after a few seconds, instead of jerking or snapping the wrist, slowly make a sweeping motion with the rod tip near the water. This motion will cause the bait to rise back to the surface, at which point the process should be repeated. Be alert during all phases of this lures presentation, as strikes are possible during the initial settle, sweep and rise. Once again, this is a bait which requires patience and attention to detail to produce the intended result.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once you have mastered the presentation of jerk baits, consider experimenting with the wide variety of colors which are available at most sporting goods retailers. Many anglers prefer to fish this bait during active feeding times of the day or even year. However, when properly presented, the jerk bait can entice a finicky bass to pursue and attack.
  • Take caution when handling hooks, as serious injury can result from the razor-sharp edges and points.

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