Tips-On-Tackle - Jerk Baits
Craig Sandell 2013

Craig SandellAn essential type of lure in any Muskie angler's tackle box should be a good assortment of jerks baits. In this article we will discuss the 3 basic categories of jerk baits and a method to prevent them from getting water logged after excessive use.

Before we get too far into this discussion of jerk baits, it will be helpful if you understand where the jerk bait originated. History tells us that the Native American Peoples were the first to use the jerk bait approach to catch Muskie. During that period in history, a majority of travel was done by canoe. When a person is paddling a canoe, he is not generally fishing. Being hunter gathers, the Native Peoples needed to maximize the available hunting time. Some ingenious person came up with the idea of tying a rope to a piece of carved wood and then attaching the other end of the rope to the paddle being used to push the canoe through the water. The irregular motion of the carved wood in the water as the canoe was being paddled turned out to be a Muskie attention getter. This basic concept is the focus of all modern day jerk baits.

The picture at the left shows three types of jerk baits. Please note that this is not an endorsement of these particular jerk baits. Far left is a Bobbiebait, in the center is a Cobb jerk bait and the remaining lure is a Reef Hogg. The Bobbie bait is a diving type jerk bait. That is to say that when you jerk your rod toward you, the lure dives nose down and then slowly begins to rise giving the illusion of a crippled or dying fish. The Cobb is a neutral buoyant gliding jerk bait. That is to say, that when you jerk your rod toward you the lure tends to move erratically in a smooth motion while staying beneath the surface of the water. The Reef Hogg is a darting jerk bait. When you jerk it through the water, it slices below the surface and swings from side to side in a quick darting manner.

Many jerk baits can be purchased with some extra weight added. This weight helps to keep the bait in the strike zone of the Muskie as it rises during your retrieve.

All three of these jerk baits catch fish. Some, like the Reef Hogg, require a good deal of effort to get good action. All of the jerk baits depicted here, as well as most every other jerk bait, suffer from the repeated start and stop jerking of the rod. The hooks tend to scrape against the wood and remove the paint and primer. (Notice the Bobbiebait depicted in this article.) This exposes the wood to the water and, eventually the wood will absorb water and the action of the lure will be affected.

There is something that you can do to help reduce this water logging propensity. If you apply two or three coats of gun stock finish varnish to the exposed wood of your jerk baits, you will, albeit temporally, seal out the water.

Where and when do you use a jerk bait? The short answer is anywhere and anytime when you can get good action from the lure. Most certainly, consider a jerk bait when you have good chop and stormy weather where the wind in blowing into a bay or shore line with stumps and sub-surface weeds. Experiment with different types of jerking retrieves and see if you can try out the jerk baits of other Muskie anglers before you decide which ones to add to your tackle box.