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Jerkbait Fishing for Bass: Tips to Maximize Success

Wired2Fish connected with Ott DeFoe during the prespawn on famed Sam Rayburn Reservoir to learn how he incorporates jerkbaits into his bass fishing season. Years of success has bred confidence in this lure category, and taught Ott to 1) don’t overthink jerkbait fishing (cadence) and 2) it’s not just a prespawn lure, rather a consistent producer of all bass species throughout the season.


Water clarity is the most important factor to consider when determining if it’s the right bait. Jerkbaits excel in clear water, where bass can see and are triggered by an erratic and suspending minnow. Unlike a crankbait, jerkbaits don’t need to contact cover to trigger bass, their built-in action is the trigger. This makes them particularly well-suited for suspended fish or those feeding up in the water column. Ott also stresses that their suspending nature on the pause is more natural and keeps the bait in the strike zone longer whereas a crankbait typically rises quickly on the pause while swimbaits sink to the bottom. The effectiveness of the suspend is greatest in cold water/prespawn, but always worth consideration.

Lastly, Ott discusses how he works the bait with a combination of jerks and twitches as well as straight retrieves to coax bites from fish in a range of moods. Although they work around all cover types, hard cover areas with the presence of rock and wood set up perfectly for jerkbait success.