Jerkbaits vs Crankbaits For Pike Fishing

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Jerkbaits vs Crankbaits for Pike

There are thousands of page dedicated to the subject of pike fishing which advise the best lures for different conditions. What is often not discussed or at least not in any detail, is the style of lure. There are two main styles- Jerkbaits and Crankbaits.

Which style of lure is best for you?

Everyone has their own opinion on the matter, so this article isn’t going to say there is a right or wrong answer. In fact, some anglers even use both types of lures as they feel it gives them more options as they fish.

However, there are some things you need to consider before deciding on what style of lure is best for you.

Best Time For Jerkbaits

This highly depends upon where you are fishing and the time of year. A good rule of thumb is that summer is prime time for jerkbaits, whereas they aren’t as effective between September and April.

However, the best time to use jerkbaits is when the fish are feeding aggressively. This typically occurs between May and September.

Best Time For Crankbaits

Crankbaits are best used during the day, so you probably want to avoid them around dawn and dusk. If you do intend to use it in low light conditions, ensure your lures are very bright and reflective.

Crankbaits work best from mid-April until early October so you have a large window of opportunity to catch pike with this style of lure.

In terms of where to use crankbaits, they work well in weed-infested areas as the weeds will bring the lure up from the bottom. This gives your lure a greater chance of attracting the attention of pike lurking in the weeds.

Crankbait Lure Overview

Crankbaits are traditional lures, with many different models of crankbaits coming onto the market every year. They are primarily used to target deep water fish such as pike and perch, though they can be successfully used for warmwater gamefish like largemouth bass.

Keep in mind that crankbaits will not run true on a cast, as they will wobble at the end of your cast. This is because crankbaits are designed to run with that “wobbling” action, and have a lip or bill which makes them dive deeper than most other types of lures.

The depth crankbaits dive depends on several factors including size and weight of the crankbait, your line’s diameter and the type of retrieve you use. Crankbaits can dive to upwards of 20 feet when presented properly and at a moderate speed. There are three ways in which you can fish a crankbait: slow rolling, steady retrieval and “cranking” it across the surface. When cranking a crankbait, the lure will dive at a medium to fast speed and you can actually feel them “cranking” in your rod hand.

Crankbait shapes

Crankbait shapes vary from a thin minnow-like profile, to larger wide-bodied profiles which resemble baitfish such as shad or herring. Some crankbaits have flat sides while some have a tapered body shape. There are also deep diving crankbaits which dive to upwards of 20ft on a straight retrieve, frog-shaped crankbaits which can work around cover, lipless crankbaits and even the widely popular buzzbait.

These lures come in an array of colours and with two-tone bodies, adding to the realism. They also have a wide range of actions and can be fished at varying speeds. Some crankbaits have rattles built into them while others are completely silent. There are also suspending crankbaits which suspend on a straight retrieve and will hold in one position until you twitch them for a reaction strike from any fish that may be in the vicinity.

Crankbait Running Depths

Crankbaits are versatile lures and can be fished at many different depths, from 4ft to 25ft. When retrieving a crankbait I recommend a baitcasting reel in the 5.0:1 – 5.4:1 gear range for the best results. You can run crankbaits at a slow speed all the way up to a fast retrieve. When cranking crankbaits, you will want a higher gear ratio in the 7.0:1 range if possible providing a longer and more efficient cast. If your reel is not equipped with a high enough gear ratio, crankbait fishing can be very frustrating and you will not be able to crank them far enough.

When retrieving a crankbait, I recommend using 10lb – 20lb braided line on a medium heavy action rod between 7′ and 8′. This set up can stand up to any kind of punishment pike or perch have to offer. If you are fishing clear water bodies with clear lines, you will also need a high quality pair of polarized sunglasses.

Lipless crankbaits

Lipless crankbaits are becoming more and more popular with bass fisherman for their ability to be fished both on top of the water or just below it. Drop shotting is an extremely effective method to fish lipless crankbaits, either by casting them out and allowing them to fall all the way down your line until they hit bottom. Once your lure hits bottom, you will want to twitch it every once in a while just to give it that extra action.

When using lipless crankbaits, I recommend an ultra light spinning rod between 6′ – 7′ long with either 6lb – 8lb braid or fluorocarbon line on a small ultralight spinning reel in the 2000:1 – 2500:1 range.

This method works well for perch and jack pike, but anywhere there is a chance pike are present always use a wire trace.

List of Crankbait lures

When it comes to pike fishing the best choice is the crankbait. Jerkbait fishing is also one of the most rewarding methods in catching this type of fish, but not all types of jerkbaits will give you good results so choose your baits carefully depending on what time is best for them.

Here is a list of crankbait lures that are worth having in your tackle box when you go fishing for pike.

Don’t forget to match the lure colour with the type of bait you are trying to catch.

6 of the Best Crankbaits



Rapala Super Shadow Rap

Length 16cm, 77 gram, Swim depth 1.4m



Rapala Super Shad Rap

Length: 14cm, 45 gram. Swim Depth 1.5-2.7m



Berkley Zilla Flanker Floating Diver

Length 11 cm, Diving depth: 0.5-1.5m


Salmo Rattlin Hornet lure crankbait Gold Fluo Perch

Salmo Rattlin Hornet lure

Length: 6.5 cm Weight: 20g 3/4OZ Diving Depth: 2,5/5,0M – 8/16Ft



Strike King Red Eye Lipless Crankbait

Weight: 18 grams, Length: 2.54 cm, Sinking


Bomber Deep Long A Lure Crankbait

Bomber Deep Long A Lure Crankbait

Weight: 18 grams Length:2.54 cm Cranks Down to 15 ft plus

Jerkbait Lure Overview

Jerkbait lures are artificial baits that have a classic design which is cylindrical, heavy and deep-bodied with two or three treble hooks. Pike prefer jerkbaits more than any other type of trolling lure because they can dive to depths of over twenty feet thanks to the low center of gravity. Pike are ambush predators and they strike at their prey by lunging with a vicious sideways snap of the jaws.

Pike are also very aggressive feeders and will take lures that look like a wounded baitfish moving erratically. Pike can be found in lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams from Alaska to Florida all year long.

The pike’s average size is from two to four feet and can weigh from 10/25 pounds up to 40 pounds. Pike have a cylindrical body shape, a flat back and a large mouth lined with razor sharp teeth that extends well beyond its small eyes. Pike have a greenish brown or brassy coloration on the back that fades into a lighter shade of chrome silver on the sides.

Pike are cannibalistic fish, meaning they prey on other pike as well as many types of game fish which makes them very dangerous to fisherman. Pike are also known for their extremely sharp teeth that can easily cut through monofilament line and ruin a good fishing trip in one quick bite. Pike have snake-like bodies with short round heads with their eyes on top.

Jerkbait Design to Imitate

Jerkbaits can be broken down into soft jerkbaits and hard jerkbaits. Hard jerkbaits are almost always made of some sort of plastic or polymer, while soft jerkbaits are made from a soft plastic material. On occasion, you will find manufacturers who still make jerkbaits out of balsa wood which gives those baits unique actions because of the varying grain patterns.

Regardless of the type of jerkbait that you use, they all have a similar look and design. They are long-bodied and narrow baits that mimic baitfish. This design really helps in being able to have long casts. All hard-bodied jerkbaits will vary in size, but most jerkbaits weigh between 1/2 oz to 3 oz. Most jerkbaits come with treble hooks that are very sharp and some jerkbaits will even have a single hook option.

The jerkbait’s design allows it to not only cast far but also gives it a jerk, jerk, pause retrieve.

Sinking Jerkbaits Lures

Perhaps the most common question that comes to mind when people first try jerkbaits is: How deep will this lure swim? The answer: it depends. There are many factors that determine how far down the bait will go before it hits bottom, such as water pressure and lure design. Sinking lures can be fished quite shallow, but they are most effective between 10 and 20 feet deep. Sink time varies with lure size, length of the bill (leading front edge of the bait), head design (round pan vs flat disk) and weighting system (how lead was added to the lure).

Buoyant Jerkbait Lures

Buoyant jerkbaits will float towards the top of the water after hitting the water. This type is the easiest style to use when starting out since they will float over grass, trees, and other obstructions. These jerkbaits work well when targeting fish that are hitting on topwater.

They will dive a few feet every time you give the bait a jerk and then slowly float back to the top. Buoyant lures are great for shallow waters because they will jump out of the water on their own.

Description Buoyant jerkbaits work excellent in calm waters with little wave action, but tend to have difficulties when fishing rough surfaces such as rip-rap. They are a great choice for a beginner jerkbait fisher. Buoyant lures come in a wide variety of colors and shapes that may increase the fish’s attraction to it. Floating is a specialty style that can be used when fish are suspending but aren’t at the top of the water column.

List of Jerkbait Lures

Jerkbaits will also give you great results, however it’s best if they are used in the morning, late at night or even during the evening. During these times they will be more active and visible to bite at your lures (when it comes to pike fishing). However you can give them a try during the day but this is not recommended since you are less likely to get bites.

6 of the Best Jerkbaits



Abu Garcia Svartzonker McJerk

Weight: 70g, Length: 12 cm/ Action: Slow Sinking



Strike Pro Wolf Tail lures

Size: 16 cm, Weight: 37 g, Swimming: sinking


Daiwa PROREX Lazy Jerk Lure Live Pike

Daiwa PROREX Lazy Jerk

Weight (g): 85, Length (cm): 15.5, Lure action: Sinking



Strike Pro Jerkbait Ghost

Length: 14 cm. Diving Depths: 4 m: Weight 70 g



Salmo Slider Floating

Length: 7 cm, Weight: 17 g, Action: Floating




Weight (g): 60, Length (cm): 12,Swimming depth (m): 0.1-1 

So what style of lures should you choose?

Well, if you are an angler that likes to target pike at dawn or dusk then crankbaits might be best for you. Also, if you want to catch pike in weed-infested water, then crankbaits are also a great option for you. They are also very effective when the pike are active and feeding aggressively.

Honest answer: There is no best time for using jerkbaits or crankbaits. You should experiment with both and then choose the one that offers you the better results on any given day. As a general rule: If your target species prefers feeding on prey near the bottom, go for jerkbaits and if your target species prefers feeding on prey near the surface, go for crankbaits.

Some anglers prefer to use both types of baits at the same time: Start with a Jerkbait and when you notice that pike is not interested in it anymore (or try something else), switch to a crankbait instead.

If you want to catch more pike, use both jerkbaits and crankbaits. It is a very good idea to have a versatile tackle box that can hold both types of lures in order for you to have everything at hand when the need arises.

There are also other options on the market that uses the wobbling action of a crankbait combined with the sporadic movements of jerkbaits.

On the other hand, if you want to catch pike throughout the day during all conditions, jerkbaits are probably your best bet. These types of lures can be used to catch pike from late spring until early autumn.

In conclusion, both styles of lures have their benefits and downfalls. If you want a little more choice when it comes to catching pike, why not try using both? The added variety could be what you need to land the big one!

What is best?

Well it depends on which option offers more advantages to your fishing day. You can be outwitted by a smart or simply unlucky fish that prefers one type of bait over another and it can be just as frustrating as not catching anything at all.

Take both Crankbaits and Jerkbaits

A good selection of crankbaits is very important in you’re arsenal. A crankbait is designed to move quite slowly through the water, with a seductive wobbling motion. These baits are not only good for pike fishing but also bass fishing or just about any other predatory fish that feeds by striking its prey from below.

A jerkbait is different than a crankbait, it does not produce that seductive wobbling motion. It is designed to be moved with a twitch of the rod tip rather than retrieved. A jerkbait swims at random depths and can dive rapidly with just a few twitches of your rod tip .

So, to sum it up: There is no best time for using Jerkbaits or Crankbaits. You can experiment both of them and choose one according to your need (if your target species prefer feeding on prey near the bottom, go for jerkbaits, if your target species prefer feeding on prey near the surface, go for crankbaits).

Also, have a versatile tackle box that can hold both types of lures to have everything at hand when needed. There are also other options on the market to combine wobbling action of a crankbait with sporadic movements of jerkbaits.

To Round It Up

To sum up the article, when it comes to pike fishing jerkbaits are best used at night or during early morning or late evening. On the other hand crankbaits work better during the day and in shallow waters. Finally be sure to match your lure colour with your prey, so you can get bites more efficiently.

I hope you enuoyed this article and it helps you in your quest to catch more pike. Thank you for reading and until next time “Tight Lines”