Hard jerkbaits are a type of fishing lure designed to imitate injured or fleeing baitfish. They are typically made of hard plastic or buoyant wood such as balsa or basswood and are characterized by their long, slender body shape with a pronounced bill at the front. These lures are designed to be worked with sharp, jerking motions to create an erratic, darting action in shallow water.

Key Features

Body shape: Hard jerkbaits usually have a streamlined, elongated body shape, resembling a baitfish. The body is often segmented or features internal weight transfer systems for enhanced casting distance and stability.

Lip or bill: Hard jerkbaits have a bill also called ‘lips” at the front, which serves multiple purposes. It helps to provide depth control by causing the lure to dive when retrieved. They are ideal for shallow water, between 1-6 feet. Skim them along banks without worrying about getting caught up in deep structure. The shape and angle of the bill determine the diving depth of the lure.  They come in round, square, and diamond shape bills as well as “lipless” baits with no bill.

Internal rattles: Many hard jerkbaits are equipped with internal rattles that create noise and vibrations in the water, attracting fish and grabbing their attention. Some are made with no rattles, however. At times a silent presentation is what is required. A silent jerkbait can often be productive in high fishing pressure situations and high-pressure weather systems. Anytime the fish are “finicky” based on conditions or fishing pressure, a silent model Jerkbait will often get bit when others won’t.

Treble hooks: Hard jerkbaits typically have two or three treble hooks attached to the belly and tail sections. These hooks increase the chances of hooking a fish when it strikes the lure.

Suspending or floating: Hard jerkbaits can be designed to suspend at a certain depth, typically between one to three feet, or float on the water’s surface. The buoyancy of the lure affects its action and presentation.

Jerking action: Hard jerkbaits are worked with a snapping or twitching motion with your wrist during the retrieve. The angler imparts quick and sharp rod movements to make the lure dart, pause, and mimic the behavior of an injured baitfish.

Versatility: Hard jerkbaits can be effective in both freshwater and saltwater environments, depending on the specific model and design. They are commonly used for targeting predatory fish species such as bass, pike, musky, walleye, trout, and various saltwater gamefish.

Hard jerkbaits are effective lures for covering water and triggering reaction strikes from fish. They are handy when fish are in an aggressive or chasing mood. By imitating the movements of a wounded or fleeing baitfish, these lures can entice predatory fish to strike.

Hard jerkbaits can be an excellent choice for catching spotted bass throughout the year, but they are especially effective during the colder months, typically from late fall through early spring. During this period, water temperatures are lower, which often makes spotted bass less aggressive and more lethargic. The jerkbait’s erratic action and pause can elicit reactionary strikes from these otherwise inactive fish. Its movement mimics an injured or struggling baitfish, which is hard for any predatory fish to resist.

The technique is particularly successful in early spring when bass are transitioning from their winter haunts to shallower pre-spawn areas. It’s also great in late fall as bass feed heavily preparing for the upcoming winter.

In both cases, paying attention to the pause is key to fishing jerkbaits effectively. Oftentimes, bass will strike the lure when it’s motionless. Vary the length of the pause and the speed of the retrieve until you figure out what’s working on any given day.

Remember to match your jerkbait’s size and color to the local forage for the best results. In clear water, use natural, subtle colors, while in stained or muddy water, brighter or darker colors may be more effective.

A technique-specific jerk bait rod from GLoomis or Shimano paired with an Aldebaron reel is a fantastic combo for working a Jerkbait properly. Jimbo’s Jerkbait rod is a Shimano Poison Adrena paired with a Shimano Aldebaran MGL reel. 

Look for Berkley to give away some of their Stunnas again this year at 2024 Jimbo’s Expo! At the 2023 Expo, Berkly gave away hundreds of hard baits!