The origin of jerkbaits is American musky fishing,
but they are also very useful for our pike. Typically these lures have no action
of there own on a straight retrieve and you have to jerk them to make them come
alive. You need a pretty stiff and short rod to make them move well, especially
the larger models. Instead of a multistrand wire leader traditionally a thick
single strand wire is used, but the use of high quality 7x7 wire and especially
of titanium wire has proven to be very effective. For the larger and heavier
models you won't get around the use of a multiplier reel. A lot of
especially rather thin ones with a subtle action can also be treated as
jerkbaits and are indeed called that in American bass fishing. There is also a
certain grey area between jerkbaits and surface lures although jerkbaits either
sink or dive on the retrieve.
There are different types of jerkbait which are mainly distinguished by a side to side ("glider") or an up and down ("diver") action. The different Models often have a very individual action and in the end its up to you and your skills how the move. Some have a wiggling action while sinking. As with plugs you will also find rattling variants.
Most Jerkbaits are big and heavy, usually between 10 and 25cm long and sometimes weighing over 100g
The Form of the jerkbait is important for the action, but is difficult to predict, how it will behave.
There is a broad palette of colours for Jerkbaits, often inspired by muskie fishing. But the Action is the important thing.
Except for the form, the internal weights of a jerkbait are very important for the action. The lure should swim near horizontal, on the other hand the action will be livelier if the weight is concentrated near the head. That is why a lot of models with a good action have a rather thick head (= higher buoyancy which is compensated by more lead in the front which brings the centre of gravity farther to the front).
Like with top water lures the correct presentation of the jerkbait is vital for its success. Sharp jerks are accompanied by constant retrieval of slack line. Each jerk has to be followed by a decrease in line tension, especially for models which should move from side to side. The movement of the rod might resemble the beating of a drum. The tip of the rod should be close to the water, unless you are fishing shallow water with a sinking model. The character of the jerks is also often used to classify different types such as "twitchbaits", "jerkbaits" or "pullbaits". But don't be dogmatic about it: creativity and the ability to observe should guide your way.