What is the Best Jerkbait for Saltwater Fishing?

best jerkbait saltwater fishing

Best Jerkbait for Saltwater Fishing

This article will discuss the best jerkbait for saltwater fishing. A jerkbait is a very effective saltwater fishing lure. However, there are a wide variety from which to choose. So, how does an angler know which is the best jerkbait for saltwater fishing?


The best jerkbait for saltwater fishing is the saltwater Rapala X Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. The Rapala X Rap comes in this version designed for saltwater fishing with stronger hooks and hardware. It is available in several sizes and many different color patterns. The Rapala X Rap Saltwater has tremendous action and most importantly, catches a lot of fish!

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Jerkbait description

Jerkbaits are long and slender lures that have a very erratic action when jerked sharply, that is how they get their name. Most of them float on the surface and then dive down several feet when retrieved. The lip on the plug causes the lure to dive. The design and shape of both the body of the plug and the lip determine the action. Like most productive saltwater fishing lures, jerk baits were first used by freshwater anglers fishing for bass, walleye, and other species.

best jerkbait for saltwater fishing

The Rapala X Rap comes in several different sizes, all of which dive two different depths. The # 8 X Rap is about 3 1/2 inches long and will dive down three or 4 feet below the surface when retrieved. Sizes #10, #12, and #14 are 4 inch, 4 3/4 inch, and 5 1/2 inches long respectively. The larger the plug, the deeper it will dive, with the size # 14 getting down to 10 or 12 feet.

best jerkbait

Choosing the correct jerkbait

Anglers should choose which jerkbait they are going to used based on several factors. The most important component in the decision is matching the forage that the game fish are feeding on. Where possible, anglers should best match the size and color of the lure to the bait fish that are in the area.

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There are times when the size of the lure will be extremely important. When game fish are keyed in on bait fish of a certain size, a lure that is either significantly larger or smaller will often times be ignored. False albacore in particular can be very fussy in this regard. However, predator fish will often strike a lure based on the vibration in action, even if it does not realistically mimic the bait fish that are available.

White is an excellent all round color for a saltwater jerkbait. Rapala calls their white color “Ghost”. It works very well in clear water and any time that silver or light colored bait fish are in the area. In most saltwater environments, sardines and herring are present. In these situations, white is a very productive color.

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Darker colors work well in stained or dark water as well as when bait fish with a darker profile are present. Gold is an excellent color pattern when fishing in tannin or stained water. Olive is a great color choice that is very versatile as many bait fish have a green or olive back in a white belly. Plugs that mimic small mackerel are a good choice when bluefish and striped bass are feeding on small mackerel.

Jerkbait fishing techniques

Fishing the Rapala X Rap is fairly straightforward. The lure is cast out towards structure, over submerged vegetation or bars, or towards breaking fish. With the rod tip held low, the lure is jerked sharply using the rod tip. The angler then quickly points the rod tip back towards the plug, putting slack in the line. This is a crucial element to working a jerkbait! The slack in the line causes the lure to suspend there motionless for a moment or two. This is often when the strike occurs.

Tailwater fishing tips

After the bait is allowed to sit motionless for a few seconds, the angler reels up the slack and then repeats the process. These lures work best with a fairly aggressive and erratic retrieve. However, there are times when fish are feeding less aggressively. This usually happens after severe fronts move through and when the water gets cooler. Under these conditions, a less aggressive retrieve may be more productive. Anglers can even try a slow steady retrieve.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

Rapala X raps are extremely productive when trolled as well. This is another aspect of the versatility of saltwater jerkbaits. This is a very easy technique that anglers can use to quickly locate fish. With the boat idling along, the lure is let out 100 feet or so behind the boat. The angler then idles around over structure breaks or near schools of bait in search of fish. Anglers can put the rod in a rod holder or hold it and give the bait extra twitches while being slowly trolled.

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Best tackle for fishing with jerkbaits

Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so on the PRODUCTS page.

Anglers can choose either spinning or bait casting tackle when fishing jerkbaits. Spinning tackle is the best choice when using smaller jerkbaits as these lures are fairly light. A medium action spinning rod that is 7 feet long with a limber tip into matching 3000 or 4000 series reel is an excellent combination.

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Bait casting tackle can be used effectively when casting jerkbaits as well. In fact, these outfits have one advantage over spinning reels when it comes to fishing with these lures. Due to the nature in which they are fished, there tends to be a fair amount of slack line to deal with. Conventional, or bait casting reels do a better job of managing slack line than spinning reels do.

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A medium heavy a casting rod between 7 feet and 7 1/2 feet long with a stout butt any fast taper is an excellent rod for casting saltwater jerkbaits. A fairly stout rod is required to work a large jerk bait properly. It can actually be a fairly fatiguing way to fish. However, it can be an extremely productive technique.

fishing line options

Anglers have two choices when it comes to fishing line; fluorocarbon line and braided line. Like most things, each has advantages and disadvantages. Monofilament line is less expensive but has a stretch component. Some anglers actually prefer to have this stretch of the line when fishing jerkbaits. Braided line is more expensive, but casts farther and lasts longer. It really just is a matter of angler preference.

Click these links to shop Amazon for braided and monofilament fishing line

Leaders are used with jerkbaits

jerkbait fishing

Most anglers fishing in saltwater use some type of leader. When the water is clear, a shock leader is usually the best choice as a heavy wire leader will drastically diminish strikes. A 24 inch to 30 inch piece of 30 lb to 50 lb fluorocarbon leader is a good all-around choice. Anglers fishing in stained water or when toothy fish such as bluefish and mackerel are around will often go with a short wire leader.

More effective jerkbait choices

While the Rapala X Rap is the best jerkbait for saltwater fishing, there are several other manufacturers that offer quality jerkbaits. Two of the best examples of this are the bomber Long a in the Yozuri Crystal Minnow.

Bomber Saltwater Grade Long A

walleye trolling

The Bomber Saltwater Grade Long A is a saltwater jerkbait that has been around a long time and has proven itself to be very effective. It is 6 inches long and weighs almost an ounce. It is a very sturdy lure with excellent action. It is available in around 18 different color patterns. Gold and red and white are two of the most popular color patterns.

Anglers can click on this link to shop Amazon for Bomber Long A plugs

Yozuri Saltwater Crystal Minnow

walleye fishing lures

The Yozuri Crystal Minnow is another excellent saltwater jerkbait. It is most known for having excellent prism finishes on the lure. It is available in a wide variety of sizes, from two and three-quarter inches to 5 1/4 inches long. It is also available and around 20 different color patterns.

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for Yozuri Crystal Minnow plugs

In conclusion, this article on the best jerkbait for saltwater fishing will help anglers catch more fish using these extremely effective fishing lures!

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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