We’ve produced a lot of articles and videos on fishing jerkbaits. But it’s something I still get a lot of questions about. I love to throw a jerkbait in the winter and feel like it’s one of the better presentations for bass fishing if you have the water clarity. While a lot has been talked about with line and jerkbaits. I think guys still make one critical mistake with jerkbaits and that involves using the wrong sized line for the hooks they have on their jerkbaits.
Different jerkbaits have different hooks
As you can see in this picture, these three jerkbaits have 3 different hooks on them. Now I changed the Megabass Ito Vision to the Gamakatsu Aaron Martens Nano Finesse Hooks. And even those hooks come in a thicker MH version now. But I love those original hooks on a Megabass Ito Vision 110. The other hooks when you look at them, they are a thicker gauge metal. What that tells me immediately is it’s going to require a bit more force to drive the hook points. And I think at some point, you can get hooks that are too beefy for a jerkbait all together.
Most jerkbaits use No.6 hooks. Some have No. 5 hooks and I’ve even seen some guys put a No. 4 on the front hook before. As most anglers know, putting heavier-duty hooks on a jerkbait can change its ability to remain buoyant or neutral in the water. Some will sink slowly. Other will sink quickly. So you always have to consider that when changing hooks.
The line has a lot to do with hookups
To throw a jerkbait and work a jerkbait, you need a rod that will load and cast a light bait. So that generally means you’re already scaling down to a medium or medium light power rod. If you put meatier hooks on the jerkbait but you have a light rod and say 8-pound fluorocarbon, you’re going to have a hard time getting good hook penetration. So you end up with a lot of bass “pulling loose.”
Likewise when you try to use a stiffer rod or heavier line, you’re not only going to change how the bait behaves in the water, but you run the risk of bending out or pulling out tiny jerkbait hooks.
So the line really needs to be married to the hooks you have on the jerkbait more than any other consideration in jerkbait fishing. That’s the general rule I go with on my setups.
I have 3 different jerkbait rods I’m using right now and all three have varying degrees of medium power and moderate to fast actions. In other words, one rod pulls a little harder than another. One rod has a little more crisp jerk forcing the action of the bait. But I match my lines and rods to the hooks on the jerkbaits I’m going to fish. That lets me fish a little differently in every area even though I’m fishing with the same general technique. And gauge what the fish prefer on any given day.
Setting up for jerkbait success
On one setup I have 10-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. On another setup I have 10-pound monofilament and on the last one I have 12-pound fluorocarbon. I put the smallest diameter hooks on the 10-pound fluoro. I’ve gone down to 8-pound fluoro on that setup too with good success and smaller finesse trebles. I know I won’t bend the hooks out with that lighter line and I can just pull into a fish hard and those hooks snag.
I often throw the deeper Strike King jerkbait with 12-pound fluorocarbon. The fluoro sinks and helps keep the bait down since the diameter of the line will pull the line up, especially in current and working more erratically because it catches more water than a smaller diameter line. But those hooks on the Strike King jerkbait are meaty and you want to be able to drive them. So I put it on the rod that I would say has the most backbone of my three jerkbait rods. I know I can hit a fish with that rod and line and get those hooks to drive. It also will let me be more erratic with the bait.
Likewise the Spro McStick that I like gets to about 6-feet on 10 pound line. It has strong hooks and they are a bit thicker than the finesse hooks but not quite as thick as those Strike King hooks. So it’s usually on my middle power rod.
Matching your jerkbaits and hooks is worth the time
There are so many good jerkbaits on the market you really can experiment and find your own favorites that maybe a lot of other guys aren’t throwing where you live.
I always catch a bunch of my biggest bass on jerkbaits in the winter which is why I love it so much. It can be hard to let a bait sit there for 5-8 seconds and then move it a few inches and let it sit again. But the rewards are too good to not invest the time to get good with a jerkbait if you fish around clear water in the winter.
I was getting tired of losing fish jerkbait fishing several years ago, and the hook and line combination is one thing I learned that has helped me boat a ton of fish. You still won’t get every fish because they flash and roll on jerkbaits and make really half hearted attempts to bite in cold water. I try, however, to put the odds in my favor wherever I can to land a lot of those bass that just don’t get it right in the mouth every time.