Picking the right jerkbait

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

David Homan posted a question last week wanting to know what specific jerkbaits I like. That’s a good question because not all fishing lures are created equal. But, there’s no perfect lure. They all have advantages and disadvantages.

With that in mind, here goes:

My all-time favorite is the Rapala X-Rap. In my opinion they have several advantages over other models that help make them real fish catchers. For one thing, they show a smaller overall profile to the bass. I’m not sure exactly why but when I look at one it looks small and compact.

The other big thing I like about them is the action. Again, I can’t really put my finger on it but they have a unique wiggle, wobble and waggle that seems to bring the fish in, and that makes them bite.

They’re also available in a wide variety of sizes and running depths. That’s more important than a lot of guys think. Every lure maker has certain characteristics that are constant through their product lines. I like the fact that I can get different sizes and running depths in my lures, but all of them act the same.

I like rattles. In clear water I go with Olive Green and move my bait along pretty fast. When the water has some color to it I usually throw Hot Mustard Muddler and slow it down.

The old Rapala Husky Jerk is good, too — for the same reasons.

I want to be fair here. One of the best smallmouth anglers I know, a retired guide named Bob Coan, will tell you in a heartbeat that his preference is the Smithwick Rogue. He almost never used anything else.

Rogues have the characteristics that we all like — lots of sizes, depths and colors along with consistent actions throughout the product range. There’s no doubt about that. There is one thing you should know, however. In my experience the ones with the red eyes suspend better than the ones with yellow eyes. Don’t ask me why.

I don’t like them quite as well as I do the Rapala models but I’ve sure caught a lot of fish over the years with them. And, you’ll wait a considerable period of time before you hear me disagree with Bob Coan about how to catch a smallmouth bass.

We haven’t talked about the ones that don’t have any lip at all. They look like cigars. The idea is to throw them out, let them fall and then twitch them back. I’m not a big fan. I have trouble keeping them down. If you twitch them fast they want to ride up to the surface. They might work better in stained water where you don’t have to move them so fast.

I was asked which ones I like. I gave you my answer. But, I’ll never tell you there aren’t other good jerkbaits out there, maybe even better than the ones I’ve talked about. I’ve never claimed to know it all.

The most important thing you can do, David, is to fish with the one that gives you the most confidence. That’s the jerkbait you’ll like best.

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