Over 25 years ago I finished third in a bass tournament at Lake Wallenpaupack in an early April Tournament. The winner had beaten me by over 8 pounds. I later found out they were using jerkbaits. The next day my good friend and I each brought 1 rod each with jerkbaits tied on. We were determined to crack the code of Jerkbait fishing. Until that day I never worked a jerkbait properly and didn’t have confidence in it. I put to use a technique that pro angler Joe Thomas described in bass fishing class I took with several friends in Harrisburg, PA a year earlier. After a 1/2 hr of feeling a bit uncoordinated, I figured it out. On that day, we probably caught over 30 Largemouths and we both gained valuable experience. Most of the common Blunders fishing a jerkbait for bass I experienced on that day. I now see it first hand when I introduce the technique to new anglers on my guided trips.

Overworking The Bait

The biggest issue I see is anglers trying to work the bait too fast. A fast cadence is good if you are experienced with the bait and can work it properly. Often times a slow methodical cadence is best. If you are overworking the bait it will not run properly or even roll. If using spinning gear it will also twist the line. It is far better to cover less water effectively than to overwork and cover more water ineffectively and get a sore arm in the process!

No Cadence

Most new Jerkbait fisherman start out good for a couple cycles of a cadence then stop and Get Out Of Cadence. I usually instruct anglers to Rip-Rip- Pause then Rip-Rip-Rip- Pause. This cadence I have a lot of confidence in and your cadence may vary. The most important thing is to have a cadence. The pause time may vary, but 2-3 seconds is usually good in cooler water. I have caught fish with a suspending jerkbait with 7-10 second pauses in 45 degree water. 99 out of 100 times the bass will hit on the pause.

Reeling The Bait

Do not reel the bait. Only reel the slack line after jerking with a downward motion of the rod. Pull the bait 6 inches to a foot on a jerk then reel the slack. Alot of anglers will overwork by reeling constantly. Simply lower the rod with 2 twitches then reel in the slackline. Then repeat with 3 twitches and reel in the slack created. Do not over reel. Just reel the slack created.

The early spring period can be the best time of year for jerkbait fishing. A Suspending Rattlin Rogue or a Rapala X Rap can be your ticket to success when the water temperature hits around 45 degrees. My confidence temperature for these baits is around 47-58. Over or under that temperature, I will most often use a different bait and technique. I often tell clients the story about my experience learning how to fish a jerkbait. It was one of many memorable moments I had while on the water. Stay focused and keep that cadence and you may also have a good story to tell others in the future!