Buyer's Guides

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

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Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

We have been reviewing the latest and most popular models of jerkbait rods on the market and have compiled our tests and experiences with them into a useful comparison guide on the best jerkbait rods for this fishing season. We tested several aspects of a good jerkbait rod like casting, sensitivity, spring in recoil, fish landing, etc. And we factored in things like durability, price, history of brand, etc.

If you’re not as familiar with what makes for the best rod, we’ll run down some key things to look for when you’re buying a jerkbait rod to make sure you make a purchase that fits how you like to fish.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD JERKBAIT ROD

A good jerkbait rod gives you a lot of control of an often challenging lure to cast. It should also be very comfortable to work all day with the snap of a wrist and forearm movement. So keep that in mind. A lighter rod is beneficial. A sensitive rod is as well. But most of the time you have to be a line watcher. A lot of bites come on slack line on a pause, so there often isn’t a lot to “feel.” 

To work a jerkbait effectively, you want to snap the bait by jerking your line with a bit of controlled slack in it. Basically. I want a small bow in the line and I want to pop the rod quickly and let it recoil. That causes the line to jump tight and pop the lure under the surface without making it travel too far forward. So the way a rod snaps and recoils on the jerk is important. Generally this is achieved with a bit lower power and very fast responsive tip. 

BEST JERKBAIT ROD SETUP

To me the best setup for jerkbait fishing is lighter monofilament or fluorocarbon line depending on if you want your bait to stay up or sink down in the water column. I often use 8-pound line in really clear water. And I will use 12-pound line when I fish jerkbaits around cover or in dirty water or when I may hit it a lot harder and faster. 

The rod should be short enough that you can snap and work the rod without hitting the water, your boat or getting the handle snagged on your clothese. So a short handle is preferred on a shorter rod that matches your height with light line and a high gear-ratio reel that takes up slack fast. 

BEST JERKBAIT ROD SIZE

To me the best jerkbait rod size is around 6 feet, 10 inches. If you are shorter than 6 feet, you might want to go with a 6-foot, 8-inch rod. If you are quite a bit taller than 6 feet, you might want a rod closer to 7 feet. You’re going to be pointing your rod tip down towards the water at about a 45 degree angle and snappin it down to about 70 degrees and immediately snapping back to 45 degrees. So a shorter rod with a short handle will be easier to work, especially around cover.

I roll cast to targets a lot with a jerkbait and shorter rod makes that easier. When snapping the rod tip, a shorter handle will keep the rod from hanging in your sweatshirt or jacket. So I think that 6-foot, 10-inch length is perfect. I have some 6-foot, 8-inch long rods I like as well. They are light, responsive and sensitive.

BEST JERKBAIT RODS UNDER $100

If price is all that matters to you, then we can recommend 3 good rods under $100 that will work and get you on the fish with a jerkbait in most instances. While they won’t fish as refined as some of the higher end blanks will, these rods have all performed well for me. 

THE SHIMANO SLX A JERKBAIT ROD

This new rod from Shimano is focused on adding as much technology to a lower price point build as possible. Shimano has been striving to bring some of their higher end technology down into their lower price points and the new Shimano SLX A Jerkbait rod is a great rod on an affordable blank. It’s a 6-foot, 10-inch rod with an extra fast tip. It’s surprisingly springy on the rod snap and casts pretty well. They are light, built on 24-ton blanks with DIAFLASH diagonally wrapped carbon fibers for more pulling power.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

FENWICK HMX JERKBAIT ROD

Fenwick has had the HMX line for a number of years and they have been revamped and refined to utilize the finest components available, including Fuji Skeleton reel seats and Sea Guide SS316 stainless sloped guides with zirconium inserts. Fitted with premium cork and TAC grips for comfort, the Fenwick HMX Jerkbait Rod has been perfectly crafted for a small jerkbait rod at 6-foot, 6-inches. It’s a fun little rod to jerkbait fish with at $99.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

ARK BRANDON COBB SERIES 

If you want a little bit longer jerkbait rod but want to keep your price low, then the Brandon Cobb Jerkbait rod might be right for you. It’s 6 feet, 11 inches and a Medium Fast power and action. Ark Brandon Cobb Series Casting Rods are fitted with black coated stainless micro guides with aluminum oxide rings and a zirconium tip top insert for unmatched reliability. Fitted with an exposed graphite reel seat and high-density EVA grip, these rods are pretty light but strong with a lot of pulling power for $99.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

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BEST OVERALL JERKBAIT RODS

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

We actually had a tie on the best of rods. The two top rods were comprabable in every way from price, sensitivity, balance, lightweight, responsiveness and power. We found of all the rods we’ve tested that the Jewel Virtus and Shimano Expride Jerkbait rods were top picks.

JEWEL VIRTUS RED DIAMOND JERKBAIT ROD

The new Jewel Virtus Red Diamond Rods are some of the nicest feeling and fishing jerkbait rods I’ve fished with lately. I fished both the cork and Winn Grip varieties of this jerkbait rod and really liked both. I leaned towards the Winn Grip rod on those cold days. The blanks are thin, light, short and make a jerkbait dance with ease. They are a joy to fish with all day.

The proprietary blend of carbon fiber and graphite gives these USA rods a ton of sensitivity without any weight. They are very responsive and really snap a bait crisply to get a jerkbait to really duck and dart. I really feel like this is my new favorite jerkbait rod.

The handles are perfect lengths, the rod balances perfectly and a jerkbait is so nice to fish with on these rods. Both the Winn Grip version and the smooth cork versions are superb quality with a rod maker having refined his rod building over 30 years. The Fuji components give you a super light rod that makes fishing a jerkbait all day more enjoyable.

Buy at TackleWarehouse  Buy from Jewel

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SHIMANO EXPRIDE JERKBAIT ROD

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

I was torn between the Virtus Red Diamond Jerkbait rod and the Shimano Expride jerkbait rod after finally getting to review the Expride. What a great jerkbait stick. Light, balanced, sensitive with a springy tip and I even boat flipped a few fish between 3 and 4 pounds on it just to see if I could. I don’t advise that as these are light crisp sticks but the rod is incredibly balanced. 

I fished it with a Shimano Bantam baitcaster and 10-pound fluorocarbon. It’s a dream setup. The tip is so responsive. You can really get that dance action out of any jerkbait. The blanks and handles are so refined. The rod loads very well even with a light jerkbait. I was so pleased with this rod. It’s at the high end of my budget at $279. But that’s what I expect to pay for a high-end best-of-category jerkbait rod. Rods that you need to impart a lot of action on a lure need to be your better quality rods to make you more efficient. Rods you just chunk and wind or drag stuff along with don’t have to be as technical so you can get away with a lesser rod.

But on this jerkbait rod, the balance, sensitivity and responsiveness of the blank all make it a cut above the rest.

Buy at TackleWarehouse 

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BEST BUDGET FRIENDLY JERKBAIT ROD

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

CASHION ELEMENT JERKBAIT ROD

The new Cashion Element Rods are another surprise winner for jerkbait anglers. This rod has only been on the market a couple of months, but the design on their jerkbait model is superb. If you are wanting to introduce yourself to the Cashion line of blanks, this is the perfect rod to take a chance on.

You can fish jerkbaits and small topwaters on it. It’s a heck of a good USA built rod for just $129. Cashion has perfected their blank building technologies and this rod is light, sensitive, crisp with enough pulling power to handle big fish on the jerkbait. I put it to the test with a 14-pound drum on light line. 

Read more about this rod line: Cashion Element Crankbait Rod Review.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

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BEST ENTHUSIAST JERKBAIT ROD

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

MEGABASS P5 DESTROYER ONETEN SPECIAL

The new Megabass P5 Destroyer Oneten Special Jerkabit rod shows off a lot of high end engineering and craftsmanship. It’s a little bit larger rod at 6 feet, 11 inches. It features five generations of perfecting their blank blends and wrapping to create a new 5-D Graphite System. They wrap along multiple axis while also accounting for eleasticity and elongation. This results in some of the most senstive jerkbait rods on the market built by a master jerkbait craftsman.

So this is one special jerkbait rod from one special line of rods packed full of technology, design, aesethetics and performance. It’s the Ferrari of jerkbait rods but also out of the price range for some folks at $499. If you’re looking for the absolute best where price doesn’t matter, this is the rod.

As we factor rod price into our best rod selections, it’s the only thing that held this rod back in our overall best of rod. But make no mistake, it’s a flagship jerkbait rod in a flagship line of JDM bass rods. 

This specific rod will be available Spring 2023.

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BEST SMALL JERKBAIT ROD

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

SIXGILL HEIMDALL JERKBAIT ROD

There is something about a small utlity rod that I love. Probably because I use longer heavier action rods for most of my bass fishing and that makes me appreciate how functional a small reactive rod can be for baits I really need to make dance like a jerkbait or a topwater. The Heimdall 6-foot, 6-inch model fits that bill perfectly.

Small cranks, tiny jerkbaits and topwaters to regular size jerkbaits are all really fun to fish on this rod. I’ve enjoyed fishing with it a lot this year. To read my experiences with this rod, go to my Sixgill Heimdall Jerkbait rod review.

Buy at Sportsman’s Outfitters

OTHER GREAT JERKBAIT RODS TO CONSIDER

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ST. CROIX LEGEND TOURNAMENT BASS JERKBAIT ROD

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

The St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass rods are extremely well made. These rods feature highly refined blanks, with top-of-the-line components. St. Croix’s Tournament blanks are some of the most sensitive in the industry. So if you can afford a St. Croix rod, you are getting your money’s worth. They are super sensitive light rods made to last for generations.

Read our full write-up in the article St. Croix Legend Tournament Bass Rod Review.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

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DAIWA ELITE FEIDER JERKBAIT ROD

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

This modernized version of the famous Team Daiwa rods of the 90s, these Tatula Elite Jerkbait rods are some great multipurpose rods. The jerkbait rod can fish jerkbaits soft or hard, small crankbaits, topwaters and more.

Cosmetically the rods are very attractive with a new silver color and chrome and grey accents. The new Daiwa Exclusive Super Volume Fiber-Modulus SVF Graphite blanks were very sensitive. The rods have a ton of pulling power. And they are durable.

You can read my full review of these rods at Daiwa Tatula Elite Rods Review.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

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ARK ESSENCE JERKBAIT ROD

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

Built upon a Japanese Toray 40-ton high-modulus carbon fiber blank, the Ark Essence Series Casting Rods are constructed using Ark’s proprietary carbon fiber rolling technology that places a carbon nano tube between the carbon fiber layers for an exceptionally light, strong, and more sensitive rod.

I really prefer full handle rods but often you can’t find one with shorter handles for fishing jerkbaits or topwaters. So I always appreciate when I find a good one like the Ark Essence.  

Buy at TackleWarehouse

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ABU GARCIA PRO SERIES HANK CHERRY

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

Built on 36-Ton graphite with Powerlux 200 resin, with a ROCS  Guide Train, Titanium guides with ultra light zirconia inserts, the Pro Series Hank Cherry rod features a larger jerkbait rod at 7 feet. It’s designed to the specifications of a well known jerkbait expert. It’s a solid rod with good components and a good choice for taller anglers that like a longer jerkbait rod.

Buy at TackleWarehouse

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JERKBAIT COMPARISON CHART

Best Jerkbait Rods for Fishing

TOP OF LINE RODS

LENGTH

LINE RATING

LURE RATING

POWER/ ACTION

PRICE

CASHION ELEMENT 

6’ 9”

8-14 LB

3/16-1/2 OZ

M / XF

$129

JEWEL VIRTUS RED DIAMOND WINN/CORK

6’8”

8-17 LB

1/8-3/4 OZ

MH / M

$289

SHIMANO EXPRIDE 6-10 M

6’10”

8-16 LB

1/4-3/4 OZ

M / MF

$279

DAIWA ELITE FEIDER JERKBAIT ROD

6’9”

8-14 LB

1/4-5/8 OZ

ML / M

$179

MEGABASS P5 DESTROYER ONETEN SPECIAL

6’11″

8-20 LB

3/8-3/4 OZ

M / XF

$499

ABU GARCIA PRO SERIES HANK CHERRY

7’

8-17 LB

1/4-5/8 OZ

M / MF

$199

LEW’S ELITE SERIES JERKBAIT ROD

6’8”

6-12 LB

1/8-1/2 OZ

M / F

$349

ST. CROIX TOURNAMENT BASS JERKBAIT

6’8”

8-20 LB

1/4-5/8 OZ

M / XF

$295

SIXGILL HEIMDALL JERKBAIT ROD

6’6″

8-14 LB

1/8-5/8 OZ

M / F

$179

ARK ESSENCE JERKBAIT ROD

6’8″

8-14 LB

1/8-5/8 OZ

M / F

$179

BUDGET RODS UNDER $100

 

 

 

 

 

ARK BRANDON COBB SERIES

6’11”

6-12 LB

1/8-5/8 OZ

M / F

$99

FENWICK HMX CASTING

6’6”

8-17 LB

1/4-3/4 OZ

M / F

$99

SHIMANO SLX 

6’10″

8-15 LB

1/4-3/4 OZ

M / XF

$99

Our Methodology for Testing Products

We actually test the products we right about. We don’t get a list from Amazon or Tackle Warehouse. We talk to anglers and find out what the most popular and newest options are and we go to the water and test. We fish for them for a few weeks. We try them in different scenarios. We spend time with them to understand where they best fit in your fishing.

We test tapers, powers, actions. We test loads on the back cast. We test casting distances. We test with different lines. We test power under load. We test durability. We want you to have as much information as possible from the water so you can buy with confidence when you’re shopping for fishing gear.