Jerkbait vs Crankbait: Which Is The Better Bait For You?

Have you walked into a local fishing store looking for a lure? It’s likely you have been asked whether you prefer a jerk bait or a crankbait. The whole jerkbait vs crankbait debate has always been a topic of discussion especially for novice anglers.

But what are the differences between the two? Are there similarities as well? More importantly, which lure is best suited for the kind of fishing that you are in? In this article, we take a closer look at these two popular baits.

What is a Jerkbait?

Jerkbait is a kind of bait characterized by its long and slender body. It has three treble hooks and a very small bill usually measuring less than an inch. Because of these characteristics, it is preferred by anglers fishing in shallow waters.

Jerkbaits can go under the waters up to five feet in depth. Since this type of lure is often used near the surface of the water, it tends to work best in clear waters. It is also ideal for winter fishing.

Three jerkbait lures used for bass walleye and pike

There’s a reason why jerkbaits have a slender design. When under water, they look like threadfin shad, a small fish that bass feed on. And while jerkbaits are often used near the water surface, they can lure bass even in deep waters.

You may also want to watch this YouTube video to give you a better appreciation on how to use a jerk bait.

What is a Crankbait?

On the other hand, crankbait has a short and round body. Its bill is also wide and long, enabling it to dive further into the waters. It also has two treble hooks.

The long and wide bill of a crankbait has a purpose. It enables the lure to dive deeper. In fact, the longer and deeper the bill of a crankbait, the deeper your lure will dive.

Various crankbaits for freshwater fishing isolated on white background

Aside from being ideal in use for deep waters, crankbaits are best used in muddy or dark waters. They are also a better lure when fishing around cover.

Now here’s a sample of a top rated crankbait so you’ll have a better appreciation of how it appears.

This YouTube video also gives you a tutorial on how to use a crankbait. Plus it has an underwater footage which can show you how the crankbait works underwater.

Similarities Between Jerkbait and Crankbait

Jerk bait and crankbaits are arguably the two most popular lures for anglers. Why? One reason is that these lures are relatively easy to use. Unlike other fish lures, you don’t need an extra tackle to use jerkbaits and crankbaits.

Both lures are also made of hard plastic. As pointed out in this article from Sport Fishing Mag, baits made of plastic tend to have more vibrant colors. Moreover, both jerkbaits and crankbaits are relatively lightweight.

And when they are under water, both jerk bait and crankbait look enticing enough for fishes to bite. When they are deep in the waters, both lures swim as if they are fishes in distress. Their movement underwater makes them very tempting for basses and walleyes.

Differences Between Jerkbait and Crankbait

Although there are many similarities between these two lures, there are also plenty of differences.

As you may have discerned after reading the descriptions of both jerkbaits and crankbaits, there’s a difference in the retrieval depth between these two lures.

Jerkbaits, with their shorter bills, tend to perform better in shallow waters. This kind of lure is highly recommended when fishing in creeks and ponds.

On the other hand, crankbaits can dive deeper depths of 25 feet or more. Thus, this type of bait is the more practical choice when fishing in lakes.

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Jerk bait is also a better option if you are brave enough to fish during the winter season. While most anglers prefer to stay in their homes once the cold sets in, the winter season is also the best time to catch a big bass because the fishes are looking for something to eat.

As pointed out by coldwater bass fishing expert Jimmy Mason, jerkbaits can imitate the movement of dying shads, a small fish that bass typically feeds on. Jerkbaits can sit near the surface like dying shads and in the process lure a hungry bass.

Power Fishing Jerkbaits in Cold Water

Another coldwater bass fishing expert, Jason Christie, explains that jerkbaits can work freely over the top of rocks or brush piles which bass like to hang tight to cover. He says this is another reason why jerkbaits are ideal for use in coldwater fishing.

Meanwhile, crankbaits are the better choice for fishing in muddy or dirty waters. Unlike jerkbaits, crankbaits are more visible to bass especially when they collide with rocks and other objects under water.

Wrap Up

Summing things up, jerkbaits and crankbaits are two types of lures commonly used by anglers. Jerkbaits have a long body with a small bill that’s usually no bigger than a fingernail. On the other hand, crankbaits have a shorter and more rounded body.

While there are some similarities, jerkbaits and crankbaits are very different. Jerkbaits are better used in shallow waters like creeks and ponds. Crankbaits, meanwhile, perform better in deeper waters.

So, which bait is better for you? It really depends on the type of fishing. If you prefer shallow water fishing, then use jerkbaits. If you enjoy fishing in lakes, then use crankbaits.


Hi! I'm Demi and welcome to my blog. Here, I will share everything I know about enjoying and surviving the outdoors. Whether you love to go outdoors, you will find interesting and informational articles on this blog.

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