Today I want to talk about Jerk baits, and when to use them.

If you were asked “What is the best bait to use when the bass are suspended along ledges near deep water?” what would be your response?

Well if you answered a Jerk Bait, you would be right. Sure a deep-diving crank bait could also be used or a worm or just about anything else in your tackle boxes, but the jerk bait will prove to be more reliable than anything else.

Why, you ask? Think about it for a moment and see if you agree with me on this.

If the fish are suspending, what are they doing? Staying where they are for a reason. One, it’s crystal clear and the sun’s beating down and they don’t feel like chasing anything, right? So the only way you are going to get them active is to throw something that’s going to cause a reaction strike and a Jerk Bait is made for that.

Now there are several types of Jerk baits. Those that float, those that suspend, and those that sink. Now go back to our scenario and think about which you think will work the best. If the fish are suspending, it is not likely that a floater on the surface is going to excite them into a strike, so we can rule that one out. Second, depending on the depth they are suspended at, we will have to make the final choice between and suspending and a sinking Jerk Bait.

Let’s say the bass are suspended at 15 feet. Which would be the best choice?

Well, we know that on suspending Jerk baits we first have to crank them down to the desired depth and then start the jerkin action. So haw deep can you crank a suspending Jerk Bait? The farther you cast it the deeper it’s going to get when you crank it down real fast, but you will get maybe 10 to 12 feet if you are lucky.

So can we get the bass to move up that additional 3/5 feet we need? Well, the answer is probably yes if our action on the Jerk Bait inspires them to come closer and take a look. The action you place on your Jerk Bait may cause the reaction strike you desire.

Now let’s look at the sinking Jerk Bait. You cast it out, do the countdown to get it to the desired depth and then start jerkin. How many of you have really done a good count down on your sinking jerk baits to really know that this one takes two seconds per foot and this one takes a second and a half per foot.

You must know this or you are never going to get the Jerk Bait to the desired depth the fish are holding at on your depth finder. Your next question should be well how do you do that?

Here’s what I do. I take a 5-gallon bucket that you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot and measure how deep it is. Think you will find it’s about 14½ inches deep. Fill it with 12 inches of water. Drop your sinking Jerk Bait into it, with the type of line you’re going to use tied on to it, and count off the seconds, 1-1,000, 2-2,000, until it lays on the bottom of the bucket. Now you have your count down sequence. Now you know it take two seconds per foot so if the fish show up on your depth finder suspending at 15 feet, you are going to have to count down 30 seconds before it gets to the desired depth to bring the bait right through the middle of the suspending fish.

Now you have to do the same trick with every sinking jerk bait you have and somehow remember what the sink rate is for each one. I think you will find that everyone you have will be a little different. So you can’t just say two seconds per bait. You really must know for sure.

Here is a little secret I use, because my memory isn’t what it used to be: If you are like me and you keep all your Jerk baits in the same box, put your floaters in the trays nearest the latches, and put your suspending in the middle rows and your sinking in the back of the box.

On my sinking, once I figure out there rate in seconds by foot, I take a permanent marker and write it in the bottom of the tray below the bait. That way when I take it out of the box it is right there for me to see. If you don’t like marking your box up then use a sticker label and put it in the box below the bait.

Now back to our scenario. Think we have decided the fish are suspended at 15 feet so the best Jerk to use is the sinking Jerk and we will count it down before we start our retrieve. Now the question is what is the best retrieve? There are several ways to work a Jerk Bait but what I have found most effective is the jerk, jerk, jerk, pause, jerk, jerk, jerk pause retrieve. Generally the hit will come on the pause so make sure you get all the slack out of your line as soon as you finish your third jerk and be ready for the hit.

OK, next question is, what is the best line to use with a Jerk Bait?

There are only two to even consider. mono and fluorocarbon. I prefer mono so when the fish hits I have a little stretch in the line so I don’t jerk it right out of the fish’s mouth before she has it really good. The line is really what YOU feel most comfortable with, but definitely NOT braid because it floats and will screw up all the work you have put in figuring out your countdown rate.

Now I know you’re going to ask me which is the best Jerk Bait and in what length should I use? All I can tell you is like all other baits there are hundreds to choose from. Let go by type.

First is floating — BPS XPS Slim Body 4 inch; Bomber Long A 3½ inch.

Second is suspending — Smithwick Perfect 10 w/o rattles 4 inch; Rapala X-rap ¾ ounce.

Third is sinking — Yo-zuri Pins Minnow sinking 2¾ inch; Zoom Super/Baby fluke with 1/16 ounce weighted hook or with no weight other than the hook. Again need to countdown with whichever you choose.

Well, I hope this helps you get out there and catch those suspending bass. Send me the pics and comments to and who knows your pics may end up in a future article. Now get out there and catch a Big ’un.

Jasper Johnson is the Copperas Cove Bass Club secretary. To contact him about the club or for any questions, call 318-218-0358 or email

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