What is a jerkbait?
A jerkbait is a lure with a minnow shaped profile. They range as low as 2.5 inches up to 6 inches. They usually have a neutral buoyancy so they don't sink or float. The presentation usually sits horizontal or just slightly nose down in the water. When fished aggressively, with jerk jerk pause motions, the bait will swim erratically like a wounded baitfish and make fish go absolutely bonkers.
Fish shallow diving jerkbaits with smaller lips if you are looking to swim the baits over structure. Use the deeper diving jerkbaits in slightly deeper water in order to reach the lower depths where walleyes tend to congregate.
Image: Top illustration is of a longer, larger lip jerk bait. Bottom illustration is of a smaller lip jerkbait. (Illustrations created by @forfishsakes in 2021.)
With the weather starting to warm up, I'm already dreaming about tossing jerkbaits. Using jerkbaits is my all time favorite method of fishing for walleyes. The best time to target walleye will be early season and in the shallow bays. Jerkbait fishing may occasionally be effective all year round depending on the lake. Many anglers prefer just a jig and a minnow but where is the fun with that, right? You can fish the bait aggressively or take a more finesse approach by just simply slowing it down. You can cover large areas of water by fanning out your cast or you can even troll the jerkbait, with the occasional jerk of the rod tip. Once I find the school of fish, I usually stick around the area until the bite stops and I'll start moving again.
My preferred setup for heavier jerkbait fishing will be a 7 foot medium heavy baitcaster spooled with 15lb fluorocarbon. Most waters I fish will have pike so I use a 12” leader. (I do not recommend spooling a spinning reel with fluorocarbon otherwise you will get the slinky affect)
If you’re looking to try something new make sure to check out some jerkbaits! I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
Linked below will be a video from one of my walleye jerkbait fishing trips!
Stay Tuned for How to Fish a Jerkbait Video!