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The Difference Between Jerkbait and Crankbait

Crankbait and jerkbait are some of the most popular fishing lures, especially when angling for bass.  As time progresses, fewer and fewer fishermen rely on live bait. 

differences between jerkbait and crankbait

Lures are favored as they are quite cheap, mimic the movement of traditional bait and can be used over and over again for several years or even decades. 

Both lures types can be made of wood, hard plastic and polymer in order to hold strong as time progresses. 

However, this is where the similarity between the two ends.  Let’s take a look at the difference between jerkbait vs crankbait.

What is a Jerkbait?

Jerkbait, also known as slashbait or ripbait, is cast quite far into the water.  This type of bait replicates the activity of an injured fish.  Such movement is the inspiration for the bait’s namesake of “jerk”.  However, the jerkbait lure does not move on its own. 

long jerkbait lure

The fisherman is responsible for creating the jerking motion.  Simply twitch or jerk your fishing rod and the jerkbait will randomly move throughout the water. 

This random movement grabs the attention of predatory fish.  The jerkbait’s shape is the primary determinant of its movement when cast into the air.  Most jerkbait is aerodynamic and long, meaning they can be cast quite far into the water yet move fairly shallowly, usually a foot to three feet below the surface. 

Jerkbait is also characterized by short bills.  Such bills, sometimes referred to as lips, dictate the bait’s wiggle movement.  The bills/lips also serve the purpose of providing diving depth to boot. 

In terms of size, jerkbait is fairly short, typically just a bit longer than a fingernail. 

However, if you prefer a deeper diving bait, you can pick up jerkbait with a comparably long bill. 

A couple treble hooks are at the bottom of the jerkbait, regardless of its size. 

Jerkbait Categories

There are two overarching jerkbait categories: hard and soft.  Within these primary categories are subcategories including suspending, floating and sinking.  The sinking variety begins sinking immediately after it is cast. 

The lure no longer sinks after force is applied to the rod to generate motion.  This motion facilitates the alteration of the lure’ sinking rate as desired. 

The suspending jerkbait is by far the most popular variety.  Suspended jerkbait is just that – suspended between the bottom portion of the water and the surface.  Unlike other types of bait, the suspending jerkbait stays in the exact same area where it was first cast until the angler moves it. 

The floating jerkbait floats along the surface of the water until the fisherman changes its course  This action prevents the floating jerkbait from becoming stuck within weeds or other obstructions below the water’s surface.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Jerkbait

The majority of jerkbait are optimal for fishing in water that is either of medium or shallow depth.  Jerkbait is perfect for clear and shallow water.  This bait is affordable, holds strong and does not require any type of additional tackle. 

Furthermore, wintertime anglers love jerkbait as it replicates the movement of dying fish.  In terms of jerkbait negatives, it has few bill varieties so there is not much diversification in terms of function/style.  Furthermore, jerkbait is not optimal for angling in deep water.

Check out our list of Best Jerkbait Lures

What is a Crankbait?

Crankbait is a popular type of lure meant for cast and retrieve style of fishing and distinguished from jerkbait with its extended and particularly wide bills..  Similar to jerkbait, crankbait is comprised of polymer, plastic or wood. 

crankbait lure

In particular, balsa wood is commonly used for crankbait as it makes it that much easier to replicate the natural movement of a fish.  Crankbait comprised of plastic is ideal for casting purposes.

Crankbait is sold in numerous colors and lip variations as opposed to jerkbait.  The long and wide bills make deep and medium water fishing that much easier. 

In fact, crankbait also have the potential to be lipless, meaning the bait can be used in especially shallow waters.  Guide your lipless crankbait atop the water above beds of vegetation and you will stand a good chance of catching bass and pike. 

Crankbait Body Type

Body type is another key difference between jerkbait and crankbait. Crankbait is short, wide and round in size.  The comparably small size only leaves enough room for two treble hooks.  However, this unique body type is similar to that of prey that draw the attention of predatory fish.

diving crankbait

Diving Depth 

Another part of the difference between jerkbait and crankbait is the depth to which it dives.  Crankbait is created for diving to depths upwards of 25 feet or even more. 

However, the lipless variety of crankbait is also quite successful when fishing comparably shallow waters.  You won’t have to exert much effort when using crankbait as it covers an abundance of water without much hand movement on the angler’s behalf. 

In fact, crankbait will float up to the surface of the water on its own after casting.

In terms of underwater movement, crankbait does not require the application of an abundance of force along the line.  The bait can easily be reeled back in after it sinks. 

Alternatively, jerkbait only works if the angler jerks his or her line over and over, replicating the movement of struggling prey.

Also see our list of Best Crankbaits

Which Lure is Better?

As mentioned above, the type of lure your use, depends on the conditions and environment you are fishing in.  My personal thought is bring both types with you on your next fishing trip and you’ll have the best of both worlds to land some big fish.

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