Often used only during pre-spawn, lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits tend to fill similar needs. They both shine in covering water, locating fish in the water column, and targeting fish suspended near the bank or off-shore. But they both have a wider application, in terms of seasons and conditions. Let’s explore these differences and how they can help you catch more fish.
Jerk baits and lipless crankbaits are both hardbaits with treble hooks and no protecting lip. It means they won’t fare well around snaggy cover. Yes a lipless around grass is great and we’ll get back to that but neither lure can handle thick cover. However a lipless is a compact lure, with intense vibrations and loud rattles. A jerkbait is long and slender with minimal rattles, it’s a very visual lure when the lipless calls more on sound and vibration. This difference is what is going to decide which lure to throw.
Also, a typical jerkbait has been designed to fish at a predetermined depth. You can fish shallower by keeping the rod tip higher but it won’t affect the running depth much. Even though sinking jerkbaits exist and allow for slightly deeper action, a lipless is more versatile in terms of running depth. Within reason, you can fish at any depth.
Most people tend to limit themselves to fishing a jerkbait in the winter, a lipless during pre-spawn and that’s it. They are missing out. I fish a lipless in the summer a lot too. When perch, bass or pike are busting bait fish on the surface, a lipless is hard to beat. Later in the day, for offshore fishing, a lipless can be yo yoed in deeper water under the boat or a short distance away. In autumn, with conditions similar to the spring, between 20 and 12°C, both lipless and jerkbaits are strong players. Fish are fattening before winter, they chase schools of bleaks and minnows.
In winter, jerkbaits fishing rules. And indeed in cold water with a temperature below 12 degrees, clear or slightly stained, just fish a jerkbait. But if you have the good fortune of fishing where the water never gets really cold or in case of a sudden warm-up, you can mix in a little lipless action. If the water clarity is over 1m I think I would stick to the jerkbait, but in stained water, a lipless can be more effective. Factor in that a lipless crankbait typically fishes faster and will cover more water.
We’ve already mentioned it, jerkbaits are superior in clear water and lipless are better for stained or muddy water fishing. But in lightly colored water, probably the most common bass fishing situation, they overlap. In reality, both can catch fish simultaneously, it’s a good idea if you’re fishing with a buddy to have one angler with a jerkbait and the other with a lipless. The loud rattles draw the fish’s attention but some might be turned off by the commotion but will hit a more subtle jerkbait wandering in their strike zone.
Both lures are mainly open water baits. But the difference in sound signature can help choosing one or the other. Around hard structures such as rocks, seawalls, bridge pillings and such, the sound waves of a lipless crankbaits will bounce and fill the water with intense noise. I would rather select a jerkbait, that will still be emiting a bit of attractive noise but it won’t be as overwhelming.
On the other hand, around grass and muddy bottom a lot of the noise will be dampen by the environment. It so happen that usually rocky hard bottom lakes will have clear water, when muddy lakes have dirtier water. For fishing around grass, the added benefit is that you can rip free a lipless crankbait, and that triggers bite like nothing else. It can be done with a jerkbait as well but it’s more difficult and you’ll find yourself reeling in a clump of grass more often than not.
Lipless crankbaits and known as chunk and wind lures. Make a long cast and crank back to the boat. The first thing I do when the bait hits the water is a simulated hook set. It will look like a baitfish who just jumped out while being chased and swimming for his life! But then for the rest of the retrieve don’t just crank it back like a robot. Kill it and let it sink a bit then rip it again. It’s important to make a mental picture of what the lure is doing, while you’re at it, add some hungry fish in the picture too, looking at your bait. What would you do then?
Lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits are great bank fishing lures too. Just take a medium heavy rod and reel, spooled with mono or fluorocarbon and you’re good to go. They can reach long distances so these perch busting seemingly out of reach can now be fished effectively. Jerkbaits are great moving water lures, I’m thinking huge trout here! Barbels for some reason also love lipless crankbaits. If you found this article interesting please consider sharing it on your social media!