Jerkbaits Defined

Jerkbaits vs Crankbaits vs Swimbaits

The difference between a jerkbait, crankbait, and swimbait can be confusing. In a series of posts we hope to help clear up this confusion. In this article we will talk about how you can determine which is which in jerkbaits defined.

Jerkbaits are a hard body plastic lure that resembles a minnow. Because of this they are sometimes called the minnow lure. The lures shape is thin and long. It typically has two treble hooks on the bottom, and a lip on the front. Some companies make lipless jerkbaits and some even make softbaits they label as jerkbaits. Although 90% of all jerkbaits are hard body with a lip.

The original jerkbait was created in the 1930’s by Lauri Rapala in Finland. Lauri noticed that predator fish were more likely to attack injured fish. The fish that were injured had an off center wobble when they swam. This woble is what Laurie tried to mimic in his artificial lures. After several revisions Mr Rapala invented the original floater. The lures great success has spawned many copy cats since.

In jerkbait fishing the action is created by the angler. This is done by jerking your rod as you reel the lure in. Typically these lures are organized into categories based on there depth.


The floating jerkbait is sometimes called a topwater jerkbait. When you reel in the jerkbait or jerk it with your rod it slowly sinks. When you stop giving the lure action it floats back to the surface. These types of lures work great in shallow water or in the spring time.


A suspended bait will sink just below the surface. When you stop reeling the lure suspends at the same depth. These types of lures work best when the water is cold. Cast it out and let it sit several times to initiate a strike.

Deep Diving

A deep diving jerkbait will slowly sink around 7 to 9 feet below the surface. These lures will typically have a bigger bill in front to create this action. You would think that these types of lures would work best in deeper water. However you can fish them in just a few feet of water and bounce them off the bottom.


For some reason many manufacturers list their lures length in metric. Why they would do this is strange, since the Imperial system has been proven to be the best. If you see a jerkbait with a 100 in the title then that means its about 4 inches long. You can use the below chart to help determine the approximate size of your jerkbait.

148 = 5 7/8″
130 = 5 1/8″
115 = 4 1/2″
110 = 4 3/8″
100 = 4″
50 = 2″

If you have any questions or corrections please email us at [email protected].

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