Skip to main content

Suspending Jerkbaits for Springtime Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass

Suspending Jerkbaits for Springtime Lake Erie Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass (Shutterstock image)

Suspending hard-bodied jerkbaits is a consistently productive tactic for Lake Erie smallmouth bass.

Smallmouth Bass (Shutterstock image)

Oh, there will be days when you catch more bass dragging a tube along the bottom, or on a goby imitation fished on a drop-shot rig.

But baitfish make up a large portion of an Erie smallmouth's diet, and bass are programmed to look up. This, combined with water that's often clear — providing a large feeding window — and the vulnerable look of a suspending jerkbait will often call in biting bass from a distance.


Suspending jerkbaits are most effective in shallower water, most commonly around 10 feet or less, though on Erie I've taken bass on them from water in the 15-foot range. Shoreline flats, shoals associated with incoming streams and off-shore humps, points extending from islands: These are all prime areas to target with a suspending jerkbait.

Rapala's Husky Jerk, X-Rap and Shadow Rap are representative of suspending jerkbaits, as is the Bomber Suspending Pro Long A, Lucky Craft Pointer and Yamamoto Tenkuu.


The key to working a suspending jerkbait, particularly when the water is relatively cold, is to fish it slow: subtle stitches, with lengthy pauses of several seconds.

Most hits will come when the bait hangs relatively motionless. The twitch gets their attention, the pause provides the helpless look that often triggers a strike.

Smallmouth Bass (Shutterstock image)


Long casts with a quality no-stretch line like Gamma Torque or Sufix 832 equates into more solidly hooked fish. A 4- to 6-foot leader of premier fluorocarbon line such as Gamma Edge or Sufix Invisline keeps the visible braid away from the lure and provides a bit of shock cushioning.

On days when the wind blows parallel to structure it's often possible to catch smallmouth on suspending jerkbaits by simply trailing them behind the drifting boat. Give the bait periodic twitches along with a "drop back" with the rod tip to get the jerk/pause action. It's a good tactic when the breeze interferes with the feel needed to properly work cast lures.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF Pros: What

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

New to the North American market comes the 'world's lightest spinning reel.'

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

Brand ambassador Ryan Lilly highlights the features of the Old Town AutoPilot 136 motorized kayak and the Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman canoe.

Portable Hornady Rapid Safes - Security on the Water

Portable Hornady Rapid Safes - Security on the Water

Hornady Security has a new line of portable safes with applications for anglers who want to have a firearm on board their boats, just in case.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them.10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Trending Articles

More Other Freshwater

Heartbreaker: Record-sized fish caught, released on Valentine's Day doesn't count.Right Fish, Wrong Day for 'Record' Paddlefish Other Freshwater

Right Fish, Wrong Day for 'Record' Paddlefish

Lynn Burkhead - February 21, 2020

Heartbreaker: Record-sized fish caught, released on Valentine's Day doesn't count.

Summer playbook: Ready for a little summer fun the whole family can enjoy? Here are some of the West's top destinations for family fishing adventures.Take Epic West Fishing Adventure Right Now Playbook

Take Epic West Fishing Adventure Right Now

Scott Haugen - July 27, 2020

Summer playbook: Ready for a little summer fun the whole family can enjoy? Here are some of...

With the latest giant weighing in at 151.9 pounds, Oklahoma's Keystone Lake is ground zero for record-size paddlefish.World-Record Paddlefish Déjà Vu - Oklahoma Gives Up Another Weighing 151.9 Pounds Records

World-Record Paddlefish Déjà Vu - Oklahoma Gives Up Another Weighing 151.9 Pounds

Lynn Burkhead - July 24, 2020

With the latest giant weighing in at 151.9 pounds, Oklahoma's Keystone Lake is ground zero for...

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows.Bowfishing from the Bank (Video) Playbook

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

Game & Fish Staff - June 24, 2020

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows.

See More Other Freshwater

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now