How To Rig & Fish A Jerkbait From A Kayak (For Any Species)

Jerkbaits are some of the more popular lures for catching bass, crappie, trout, and a number of other species. They work well in a kayak because you don’t have to mess around with hooks and bait. In this post, I’m going to be talking about how I like to rig everything up and how I actually fish a jerkbait from a kayak.

It’s a pretty simple concept but there are a few key things that should make your life a lot easier. We’ll be talking about when you want to pull one of these out of your tackle box, what my favorite jerkbaits are, the gear I like to use, and how to catch fish from a kayak.

What Is A Jerkbait & When To Use One

Jerkbaits look exactly like a minnow when you put them in water, they look like a wounded or dying fish. Predator fish see it as an easy meal and that’s why they’re so effective for catching all types of fish.

Best Jerkbait For Rainbow Trout

You can get jerkbaits that float, ones that sink, and ones that’ll suspend in the water. All have their purposes but the one I normally use is the suspending. I use it because it’s somewhere in the middle and can be fished in shallow and deeper water.

The key though is picking the right time to throw one out.

You’ll want to use a jerkbait when you’re fishing shallow water. They’ll be ideal for water under about 8 feet but they won’t sink much further than that. Use them in shallow lakes, ponds, creeks, or streams.

If you’re fishing in deeper water and want to use a lure like this, go with a crankbait instead. They’ll dive a lot deeper and should do a better job at catching fish. A crankbait will have a shorter body and have a more rounded shape. The lip on them is also going to be bigger.

Jerkbait vs Crankbait

What Jerkbait To Use

There are a number of different jerkbaits to pick from and I think a lot of people spend way too much time thinking about it. You can get different colors, sizes, and weights. The main thing that matters, in my opinion, is the size of the lure.

Picking the right lure size for the job is the most important thing to think about. It’ll all depend on what type of fish you’re going after. It’s kind of obvious but you’ll want to use a bigger lure when you’re going after bigger fish.

If you’re going to be fishing for smaller trout, you’ll want to use a jerkbait between 2 and 3 inches long. They don’t have huge mouths and won’t be able to bite anything bigger. You can go bigger if you’re going after lake trout.

If you’re going to be fishing for bass and crappie, you’ll want to use a jerkbait between 3 and 4 inches long. Probably something closer to 3 will work best for crappie and smaller bass. If there are giants in the area, you might want to try the 4 inches.

When it comes to jerkbait color, you’ll want to use something that’s natural looking. Think about what the fish are already eating and pick something similar to that. Jerkbaits are designed to imitate minnows and that’s why you want it to be something they’re already used to.

Natural Color Jerkbait


Silver and black, silver and blue, silver and gold, and rainbow are all solid colors.

The Rapala X-Rap 8 is a great option for bass and crappie. It’s just over 3 inches long, it’s reasonably priced, and the quality is high. I like the gold or silver color for bass and crappie. See it on Amazon.

The Rapala X-Rap 6 is a great option for trout. It’s 2.5 inches long and I’ve caught a good amount of trout on it. Any of the natural colors works well but my go-to would have to be silver with a dark back. See it on Amazon.

The Gear

When it comes to gear, you could get away with using pretty much whatever. As long as your rod can cast a good distance, you should be able to catch fish. I just thought I’d share the exact setup I use because that’s what I was looking for when I was getting started.

Let’s start with the reel. Since you have to be able to cast, it kind of narrows things down to a spinning or baitcasting reel. I almost always use a spinning reel for trout and crappie and it’s always done the job for me. They’re easy to use and cast a long way. Either a 2500 or 3000 series spinning reel should be perfect for trout, bass, and crappie. If I’m fishing for bass then I might switch to a baitcasting reel. The choice is up to you.

Now for the rod. I normally like to use as light of gear as I can get away with. There’s no need for using heavy equipment if you’re only going after small rainbow trout. If I’m going after rainbow trout or crappie then I’ll use a light action rod. If I’m going after bass then I’ll use a medium action rod. I like using a rod between 6.5 and 7 feet long (longer rods will be harder to handle fish). It doesn’t really matter if it’s a spinning or baitcasting rod.

When it comes to fishing line, I almost always will use braid with a fluorocarbon leader. I’ll use this on my spinning rods and I’ll also use it on my baitcasting rods. I like braid because I can use heavier line (since it’s thin), it’ll cast a lot better, and it’s much more sensitive. If I’m going after smaller fish (rainbow, crappie, smaller bass) I’ll use 10 lb braid with a 6 lb fluoro leader. You can go heavier if you’re fishing for bigger fish.

If you don’t know how to properly spool braid onto a spinning rod, here’s a quick video showing you how:

I’ll use a 4-6 foot leader and attach it directly to the braid using the Surgeon’s Knot. I’ll then attach the jerkbait to the end of my leader using an Improved Clinch Knot. Click here to see how to tie all the popular fishing knots.

How To Fish A Jerkbait From A Kayak

The most important thing to do first is trying to figure out where the fish are. You could have the absolute perfect setup, the perfect color, and the perfect strategy, but if there are no fish in the area, you won’t catch anything.

What you’ll want to look for are areas where fish might be hiding. This could be sunken logs, brush piles, rocks, grass, etc. 80% of the time, fish will be there. After you figure that out, you can start fishing.

The first thing you’ll want to do is position your kayak in the right spot. You’ll want to point your kayak at the target and be close enough to cast your jerkbait past that point. You don’t want to cast right on top of the fish (especially if it’s a trout) because it could scare them off.

Method 1: Cast & Retrieve. This is the most simple way to fish these lures but it still does work. All you have to do is cast past your target, let your lure sit there for a couple of seconds, and slowly start reeling in (put your rod out the side at a 45-degree angle). Every few seconds you can add a pause, and that’s where you’ll get the majority of your bites.

Method 2: Cast & Jerk. If you want to take things up a level, you can add small jerks when you’re reeling in. It’s called a “jerk” bait for a reason. All you have to do is cast past your target, let it sit there for a couple of seconds, reel in a bit of the slack, give it 2 small jerks, let it sit there for a couple of seconds, reel in the slack, and repeat.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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