Jerkbait fishing – Pro tips!

Jerkbait fishing – Pro tips!

This article will thoroughly cover jerkbait fishing. Capt Jim Klopfer is a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida. He loves fishing with plugs, especially jerkbaits.

jerkbait fishing

A jerkbait is an artificial fishing lure in the plug family. Jerkbaits are long and slender. They put out a lot of flash and vibration as they wobble. Most have a bill which will determine the depth that the lure will run. Many manufacturers offer shallow and deep diving versions on the same bait. Both freshwater and saltwater game fish species will take a properly presented jerkbait.

For the most part, jerkbaits mimic wounded bait fish. As they wobble, they flash and put out vibrations. Jerkbaits are available in many different sizes and colors from quite a few manufacturers. However, they all basically work the same. Jerkbaits are excellent search baits as they allow anglers to cover a lot of water fairly quickly.

fishing with lures

Jerkbait fishing techniques

There are two basic retrieves that anglers use when jerkbait fishing; a steady retrieve and a “jerk and pause” retrieve. The latter is how the lure got it’s name. Steady retrieves will produce, whether cast or trolled. Most jerkbaits have an excellent built in action. Anglers should vary the speed of the retrieve until a production one emerges.

walleye fishing, a beginners guide

While a steady retrieve will catch fish, the most effective way to work a jerkbait is to use a more erratic presentation. The key to this is understanding how to use and manage some slack in the line. This violates many angling principles regarding keeping a tight line, but it is crucial to properly fishing a jerkbait.

9 essential smallmouth bass fishing lures

The bait is cast out and retrieved a few cranks to get the lure to the proper depth. The angler then creates a few feet of slack. This is easily done by simply pointing the rod tip at the lure. After a few seconds, the rod tip is sharply jerked to the side. The slack will allow the rod tip to gain speed. When the slack is taken up, the lure will jerk forward violently.

Once again, the angler puts slack in the line. This will result in the jerkbait suspending motionless in the water column. Quite often, this is when the strike occurs. This motionless presentation very realistically simulates a helpless bait fish, seemingly an easy meal. The process is then repeated back to the boat.

Trolling jerkbaits

tackle for lake trout fishing

Jerkbaits are outstanding trolling lures! The side to side wobble produces a lot of flash, mimicking and wounded bait fish. Color patterns and sizes are available to match any forage species that game fish are feeding on.

Trolling is simply driving the boat around at a slow speed while pulling a lure behind. It can be as simple as tying a lure onto the end of the line. Most jerkbait manufacturers offer models that run both shallow and deep. This makes trolling with jerkbaits very easy. The line diameter and distance behind the boat will affect lure depth as well. Anglers should experiment with speed, a slight change can make a big difference.

salmon fishing in Great Lakes

Serious anglers will troll jerkbaits behind downrigger balls and off of planer boards. This is a bit complicated and is better explained in this article on salmon fishing. Snap on trolling weight are another easy method that anglers can use to get the lure down deeper in the water column.

Best conditions for jerkbait fishing

For the most part, jerkbaits produce best in water that is fairly clear. While predator fish will track down a jerkbait in dirty water, there are other lures that are more effective under these conditions. Jerkbaits really shine in clear water and will provoke strikes when other more subtle lures do not.

bass fishing

In freshwater lakes, sloping points with rock or gravel are prime spots to fish a jerkbait. Smallmouth bass in particular fall prey to this approach. A jerkbait worked over deeper submerged vegetation will produce bass, pike, musky, and other species. However, they do have exposed treble hooks and will hang up in heavier weeds.

Smaller jerkbaits are very effective in streams and rivers. Bass and other species will readily take a bait flashing through a deeper hole. However, they really do not work well in strong current.

bass fishing

Jerkbaits are an excellent choice to work long stretches of rip rap in both freshwater and saltwater. They allow anglers to cover a lot of water. The lure will catch active fish as well as triggering strikes from inactive fish.

best fishing lures for redfish

Anglers fishing jerkbaits in saltwater do well to work any type of shallow cover such as oyster bars, docks, bridges, shorelines, jetties, submerged weed beds, and more. Jekbaits really shine when working large schools of bait. This occurs quite often in saltwater environments. Predator fish will ball up bait and “trap” it against the surface. A jerkbait cast into this bait or near the edges will usually draw a strike. Freshwater anglers will find striped bass behaving similarly in lakes.

bass fishing

Best jerkbait fishing tackle

Anglers jerkbait fishing can properly present these lures using both spinning and baitcasting tackle. In either cast, a long, limber rod is preferred. This type of rod will absorb the shock of aggressive strikes, resulting in more fish landed. A 7′ to 7 ½’ rod works well. Spin anglers will do fine with a 2500 series reel in most applications.

While both spinning and baitcasting tackle can be used when fishing jerkbaits, baitcasting tackle really does have several advantages. These advantages are the faster retrieve ratios of baitcasting reels and the fact that they manage slack line much better. This is especially true when using heavier baits. Anglers trolling with jerkbaits almost always use conventional gear.

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For the same reasons that softer fishing rods are used, most anglers jerkbait fishing opt for monofilament or flourocarbon line. Braided line does not stretch at all and that “give” really helps anglers land more fish. Anglers trolling with jerkbaits will use braided line along with a fairly long flourocarbon leader.

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Jerkbait fishing produces for both saltwater and freshwater anglers!

best jerkbait for saltwater fishing

Jerkbaits are very productive and versatile fishing lures, this is one advantage of using them. They will fool a wide variety of predator species for both freshwater and saltwater anglers. In freshwater, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, walleye, northern pike, all trout species, musky, and even panfish will hit a jerkbait.

fishing with jerkbaits

Anglers fishing with jerkbaits in saltwater will catch striped bass, bluefish, bonito and false albacore, mackerel, snook, redfish, jack crevalle, and more. Saltwater versions often have stronger, corrosion resistant hooks and hardware. In reality, and game fish that feeds on smaller fish can be caught on a jerkbait.

Choosing the best jerkbait

Anglers should choose the jerkbait that they use the same way they would other artificial lures. In most cases, the best approach is to use a lure that resembles the local forage in both size and color. There are times when a larger, flashier bait will get the attention of a fish. A good rule of thumb regarding color is to use light colors in clear water and darker colors in dark water. White and silver produce in clear water, green, black, and gold in dark water, and pink and chartreuse in stained water.

Florida saltwater fishing in summer

There are quite a few lure manufacturers that sell quality jerkbaits. Some offer both freshwater and saltwater versions. Here is Capt Jim’s list of his favorite jerkbaits

Top 13 fishing jerkbaits;

  • Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

  • Yo-zuri Crystal Minnow

  • Bomber Long “A”

  • Rapala Husky Jerk

  • Smithwick Rogue

  • Strike King KVD Jerkbait

  • Lucky Craft Pointer

  • Megabass Vision

  • Livetarget jerkbait

  • Berkley Flicker Minnow

  • Storm Thunderstick

  • Cotton Cordell Red Fin

  • Rebel jerkbaits

While all jerkbaits share traits and are similar, there are some aspects that are different as well. We will briefly cover these differences in each description in this list of top 13 fishing jerkbaits.

Rapala X-Rap

Rapala x rap

The Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait is Capt Jim’s favorite jerkbait. They are available in freshwater and saltwater models as well as shallow and deep diving versions. Rapala X-Raps are available in a wide variety of colors. The 08 size is good when a smaller, finesse bait is needed. The #10 size is a good size for many applications. White is an excellent all round color.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Rapala X-Raps

Yo-zuri Crystal Minnow

walleye fishing lures

Yo-Zuri baits are well known for having fantastic finishes, and their jerkbaits are no exception. These finishes are offered in many different colors and patterns. They are available in shallow and deep diving models and several sizes, from 2 3/4″ to 5 1/4″.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow jerkbaits

Bomber Long A

walleye trolling

The Bomber Long A is an old school jerkbait that has been around a long time. It is an affordable option that is available in several sized and multiple colors. Anglers can also purchase shallow and deep diving lures. Long A lures are available in saltwater models with stronger hardware.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Bomber Long A jerkbaits

Rapala Husky Jerk

husky jerk

The Rapala Husky Jerk is another older fishing lure. It is less expensive but a very effective bait. It is an excellent choice for smaller species as it is available in small sizes. It is primarily used by freshwater anglers. Gold is one of the most popular colors.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Rapala Husky Jerk plugs

Smithwick Rogue

smithwick rogue

The Smithwick Rogue is a long, slender bait that is 4 1/8” long. Is suspends and has rattles. The Rogue is available in 22 different colors. It is a freshwater lure that works well when both cast or trolled.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Smithwick Rogues

Strike King KVD jerkbait

kvd jerkbait

The Strike King KVD jerkbait has a lot of action, perhaps more than any other bait. It is available in a few different sizes and quite a few color patters. Sexy Shad is very popular. It also has a weight transfer system, resulting in longer casts.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Strike King KVD jerkbaits

Lucky Craft Pointer

lucky craft pointer

The Lucky Craft Pointer is a high quality, but expensive, jerkbait. It is available in both shallow and deep diving models. Pointer lures come in several sizes and many colors. For the most part, they are used by freshwater anglers.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Lucky Craft Pointer jerkbaits

Megabass Vision

megabass vision

The Megabass Vision is an excellent jerbait. However, it is a very expensive lure, retailing for around $25. However, some serious anglers swear by them. They have a unique shape and are available in an astounding number of color patterns as well as shallow and deep diving models.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Megabass Vision jerkbaits

Livetarget jerkbait

livetarget jerkbait

The Livetarget jerkbait has a weight transfer system and suspends in the water column. They are available in shallow and deep diving models for freshwater anglers. They come in many fish-catching colors as well as their famous “school of fish” finishes.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Livetarget jerkbaits

Berkley Flicker Minnow

berkley flicker minnow

The Berkley Flicker Minnow is a very affordable deep diving jerkbait. It is a favorite among freshwater anglers who troll. It is available in 4 sizes and 13 colors.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Berkley Flicker Minnows

Storm Thunderstick

storm thunderstick

The Storm Thunderstick is another very affordable, old-school jerkbait. It is available in shallow and deep diving models as well as many popular basic color patterns. Firetiger is a favorite among anglers. It has internal rattles as well.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Storm Thundersticks

Cotton Cordell Redfin

cotton cordell red fin

The Cotton Cordell Redfin is a long and slender jerkbait. It is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater anglers. It comes in 3 sizes, up to 7”, which works well on larger species such as striped bass.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Cotton Cordell Redfin jerkbaits

Rebel jerkbait


Rebel lures have been catching fish for decades. The Trackdown, or TD series of jerkbaits are effective on a variety of freshwater species, whether cast or trolled. They come in several sizes, shallow running, with a good selection of finishes.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Rebel jerkbaits

In conclusion, this article on jerkbait fishing will help anglers be more successful using these effective fishing lures!







Ice Fishing with Tip Downs, Tips and Techniques

Ice Fishing with Tip Downs, Tips and Techniques

This article will focus on ice fishing with tip downs. Tip downs are clever devices that hold a regular ice fishing rod and reel in place over a hole. They are an effective way for anglers ice fishing to present multiple offerings in different locations. Tip ups are mostly used by anglers targeting panfish and smaller game fish species, but can certainly be used on larger fish as well.

ice fishing with tip downs

Tip downs are devices used by anglers ice fishing that hold a rod and reel that presents a bait through the hole in the ice. Like tip ups, tip downs allow anglers to fish more than one spot at a time. When a fish strikes, the rod tip plunges down into the hole, thus the name. It is important to check local fishing regulations! They will vary greatly regarding hooks, baits, and number of lines allowed.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” by clicking on the title link.

Tip downs are advantageous because they allow anglers to fish multiple holes while still catching them on a regular ice fishing rod and reel. This is kind of the best of both worlds! Anglers ice fishing with tip downs are normally pursuing pan fish, crappie, and other smaller game fish species. These fish are better suited for tip downs as they generally don’t strike hard enough to pop the clip on a tip up.

ice fishing with tip down

Tip downs are excellent for anglers learning a new body of water. They allow multiple baits to be presented at different depths and locations. This will help anglers learn much more quickly the types of structure and depth that which fish are feeding. Tip downs are also very conducive to family fishing. Children can be distracted and play a bit in between bites.

Tip down options

ice fishing with a tip down

Tip downs are lightweight devices that are usually made of wood, plastic, or metal. They are very portable and set up quite quickly. As mentioned above, they use a conventional ice fishing rod and reel. One set, the rod is either horizontal or a bit above. When a fish strikes, the unit pivots and the rod tip dips down towards the hole. Thus the name “tip down”!

Click to read more about ice fishing tackle and gear

There are a wide variety of tip down units available to ice fishing anglers. Most opt for the type where any rod and reel can be used. This way, anglers can use the outfits that they already own. Sullivan ice fishing tip downs are an example of this. Some tip downs come with flags as well. However, it is very easy to tell when a fish takes a bait.

ice fishing basics

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Setting up an ice fishing tip down

Once the hole is drilled, the tip down is set at that location. Anglers can use a live minnow or nightcrawler on a small hook with a split shot or a jig head to get it down in the water column. This works well for crappie and yellow perch as well as a variety of other game fish species. Micro jigs with a meal worm or wax worm are best for anglers chasing bluegill and panfish. Artificial lures alone are generally not productive as they require manipulation by the angler. A brightly colored ice fishing jig with a live bait is an excellent all round combination.

Anglers ice fishing with tip downs should not neglect dead or frozen bait as well. These can be particularly effective on larger species such as northern pike, walleye, and lake trout. Minnows that have dies can be very effective. Game fish will at times not want to chase a live bait, but will readily take a fresh dead minnow. Cut bait can be productive as well. Suckers, ciscoes, and shiners work well.

ice fishing tip down

While the bait should be placed close to the bottom, anglers should vary the depth that they are fishing with the various set ups. This way, anglers can quickly identify the depth that which fish are holding and feeding. It is important to keep an eye on your tip downs! It is not unusual for a fish to take the bait off of the hook unnoticed by the angler. Fishing a hook with no bait defeats the purpose of covering a lot of water!

There are several other nuances which will help anglers ice fishing with tip downs be more successful. It is very important to keep the hole clear of ice. Most often, very light line is used in this application. Sharp pieces of ice will quickly cut this very thin line.

ice fishing basics

Also, wind can be an issue when fishing with tip downs. The best approach is usually two point the tip of the rod right into the wind. This results in the best line management when dealing with a stiff breeze. Also, it is often a good idea to pack some snow around the base of the tip down when the wind is blowing.

Strategies for drilling holes when ice fishing with tip downs

The primary advantage to ice fishing with tip ups is the ability to fish several different spots can be fished at once. Therefore, strategically drilling the holes is important in order to maximize tip up placement. Ideally, anglers will fish several different depths in a fairly small area. Sloping points are an excellent example of this, as are channel edges. Anglers can research prior to the trip to get current information and fishing reports. Many anglers have good GPS waypoints from open water fishing, these are good places to start.

ice fishing auger

While it is good to cover several different depths and even cover types, it is important not to place the holes too far apart. This will make it more difficult to get to a rod quickly. Also, anglers may miss a few bites. Most experienced anglers ice fishing with tip downs keep the rods a hundred yards apart or less. Again, anglers need to check local regulations regarding the number of rods and baits that are legal to use.

Ice fishing anglers have a couple of options when it comes to drilling holes. Hand augers work fine for those fishing a hole or two on ice that is not too thick. However, serious anglers opt for some type of power auger. Electric units work well up to a foot or so. Serious anglers will choose a gas powered ice auger.

ice fishing auger

Click the link to shop Amazon for ice fishing augers

Sonar units are very helpful for anglers ice fishing with tip downs. They will help anglers locate structure such as drop offs along with fish-holding cover. They will also show schools of fish. Several manufacture units specifically designed for ice fishing applications.

ice fish finder

Click to shop Amazon for ice fishing sonar units

Ice fishing with tip downs for panfish

Tip downs work very well for anglers ice fishing for panfish. The light rods and baits along with the more subtle takes work well in conjunction with tip downs. Most of these smaller fish will not trip the clip on a tip up, those are just a bit too heavy.

ice fishing for bluegill and panfish

Anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish will do well to use a micro jig tipped with a grub of some type. Mealworms and wax worms are easy to keep alive and are readily available. A piece of nightcrawler works quite well, too.

The other bait most often used by anglers ice fishing with tip downs for panfish is a jig with a live minnow attached. The advantage that this brings is the chance to catch larger game fish such as walleye and pike. Live minnows are very effective on crappie and yellow perch. Larger brown and rainbow trout will take them as well.

crappie fishing

Anglers seeking larger species such as walleye, pike, lake trout, whitefish, burbot, and more will need to bump up the tackle a bit to handle the larger fish. In reality though, tip downs really are better suited to smaller fish on light tackle while tip ups are best for pike and larger fish.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with tip downs will help anglers catch more fish using this technique.