Jerkbaits really shine in the cool-to-cold water periods in spring and fall. They are a go-to presentation for smallmouth and largemouth bass anglers during that time of year. They can also be very effective for walleyes during that same time of year. Al Lindner loves throwing jerkbaits and has caught fish with them in water temperatures all the way down into the 30’s. They are phenomenal baits for triggering sight-induced strikes, but they don’t work everywhere.
Water clarity is very important for jerkbait fishing; the clearer the water, the better. Water usually clears up as it cools anyway, but you really want to avoid dark-water environments with this presentation. In those situations, you need to throw something that gets the fish’s attention with noise or vibration. Spinnerbait, crankbait, and jigs all work great.
Another thing that’s important to keep in mind is that the colder the water temperatures are, the longer you should pause the jerkbait on your retrieve. If water temperatures are in the high 30’s, you might need to wait 10+ seconds before a fish is willing to commit to striking your bait. If temperatures are up in the 50’s, you may only need to wait a couple seconds. Experimentation is key, but keep this in mind as a general rule of thumb.
There are many excellent jerkbaits on the market right, but the Shadow Rap has really turned some heads in it’s first few years on the market. It’s flat-sided design creates a beautiful flashing action that attracts fish from afar. All in all, it’s biggest calling is it’s action. When you’re working the bait correctly, it will jump 180 degrees left and right. You can almost fish the bait in place, which makes it extremely effective when you’re targeting isolated cover, such as weed patches or big boulders. The colder the water temperatures, the smaller the strike zone is for most fish, so the last thing you want to do is quickly pull the bait away from them. The Shadow Rap’s ability to create a ton of action over a very short distance is unmatched by any jerkbait on the market.