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How to Fish Jerkbaits

Updated on February 28, 2016

Perfect Minnow Imitations

Lucky Craft Pointers 128
Lucky Craft Pointers 128 | Source

Jerkbait Basics

How to fish jerkbaits, ripbaits, minnowbaits, is a skill every angler needs to develop for the winter and early spring. They work other times of the year, but during the colder weather months a bass can be tricked into reacting to strike a jerkbait when they otherwise would not anything else.

If you have never used a jerkbait, also known as a ripbait, then you are missing out on a hot winter and early spring bite for large mouth bass and small mouth bass throughout the whole year. The jerkbait works by being retrieved erratically back to the angler, however the most essential part of the retrieve is the pause. Almost all strikes will occur either during the pause, or immediately on the first twitch after a pause. The fish react to the jerkbait the best during times that the water is cooler and they are not as aggressive and willing to chase down prey over long distances. The slow twitch, twitch, pause, and angler imparts on the lure makes the lure dance under water from left to right, diving up and down, and in general just acting like a wounded and lost minnow. The fish often will get close to the suspending lure during the pause and then on the next twitch, pounce on it like a cat that does not want to let it get away. The fish often bite not necessarily out of hunger, but due to their instinct. The ripbait is perfect at creating the impression of the minnow is startled and will get away and the fish realizes it has only a nano second to decide to eat it or not and the fish's gut reaction generally means you get a fish on the end of the line.

The Pause

While it is important to learn how to lightly twitch the lure especially when working with the higher performance lures that do not require really hard pulls to get the action imparted to the bait. It is the pause that is the most important element of the retrieve. If you learn one thing from this article, it is to pause the ripbait after every 2 - 3 twitches. The pause should be anywhere between 1 - 10 seconds. Of course there is times that a longer pause will be necessary and work, start with a few seconds and just start to experiment until a pattern develops.

Tips for Fishing Jerk Baits

Lucky Craft Jerkbaits Perform

When learning how to fish jerkbaits, use the best available lures. The Lucky craft baits are so well tuned and designed that it makes the learning curve significantly easier to generate the action needed to generate strikes from bass.

Pick up a couple of the variations of this lure from Lucky craft, to have the best lures available to anglers. Lucky Craft has designed a wide selection of different styles of this productive bait to fit the various depths that fish may be hanging out. During the colder times of year, fish tend to suspend in the water column and the suspending action in the Lucky craft's and the performance action allows the baits to be worked slowly, yet still dart hard when lightly ripped which is the action needed to cause a fish to react.

The different Lucky Craft models include

  • Pointer - a shallow running jerkbait that comes in a variety of sizes to match the hatch of forage fish in the water.
  • Staysee - This lure dives significantly deeper than the pointer around 8 feet.
  • Bevy Shad - A smaller variation that is perfect for matching small shad and also dives deeper than the pointer.

Rod, Reel, & Line

The best rods for fishing these styles of lures tend to be around 7 feet in length and a medium action rod with a fast to extra fast action. The Lamiglas bass fishing series has a few excellent options, with the XP 704 C and XP 705 C being the best in the lineup for ripbaits. These rods will allow an angler to make a long distance cast and is balanced to work with baits of this size.

It is important to fish with a reel that has enough line on the spool for casting distance as well as being a high speed gear ratio for fishing the lures at a faster pace. While most anglers will find success with slower retrieves and long pauses, it is essential to have a fast speed reel to pick up the line slack when a fish bites the lure and swims towards the angler or when it is attacked sitting still on the pause. Being able to reel in quickly and cast back out to high producing targets also favors a fast retrieve versus a slower gear ratio reel. The Shimano Curado in either a series 100 or 200 is the perfect bait casting reel for jerkbait fishing.

Most anglers prefer a fluorocarbon line for fishing with these types of minnow baits or a combination of braided line and a fluoro leader attached. The typical line size is 12 lbs. test but there is situations and baits that will perform best with lighter lines and when fishing around lots of heavy cover in shallow water 15 lbs. test line may be the best solution.

Smallies Love Ripbaits

Smallies Bite Jerkbaits Throughout The Year
Smallies Bite Jerkbaits Throughout The Year | Source

When to Use

Pre spawn through the post spawn tend to be the best times for fishing with a ripbait, but the fall can also be deadly and so can the dead of winter. Pre spawn fish can fall victim to a slow twitching large bait that appears to be an easy meal perfect for feeding before the spawn and the same for post spawn fish that do not want to exert a lot of energy chasing fast moving prey.

These baits can be fished in such a versatile manner that it really allows them to perform most of the year for bass fishing and they are perfect for small mouth bass as well as the largemouth variety.

Ripbait Fishing with Mike McClelland


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    • profile image

      Edwin Brown 

      5 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Thank you, you have given me another technique to try. We have lots of smallmouths in the river that flows through my town. I think I will give this a shot and see if it ups my catch rate.

    • justom profile image


      5 years ago from 41042

      I think this is what we call fly fishing but I'm not sure it's exactly the same thing. Well done hub!!


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