Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad: Everything You Need To Know [REVIEW]

By: Luke Simonds on June 4, 2015
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berkley gulp jerk shad review

If you’re an avid saltwater angler, you’ve most certainly heard of Gulp baits made by Berkley. And you likely know that they can be expensive… especially compared to other soft plastic bait alternatives.

In fact, I used to believe that they were over-hyped and over-priced to the point of not even bothering to try them out.

However, my thoughts on them drastically changed once I finally gave them a try… and they changed even more once I started learning how to properly care for them.

And then their value increased further once I realized how useful expired Gulp baits were in terms of catching pinfish and other great bait… more on that below.

Most importantly, what I learned in the learning process is that it’s not wise to evaluate a soft plastic lure on its cost-per-bait ratio… what we really care about is the cost-per-fish caught ratio…

So I thought this article and associated videos would help you decide if a Gulp is something you want to have in your tackle arsenal… detailed review, rigging steps, and maintenance tips below.

Review of Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad

When I finally did decide to use a 5″ Gulp Jerk Shad, I was completely blown away by the increase in bites I was getting from both my target fish (snook, redfish, and big trout), as well as small bait fish (explained at the end of the article).

This was the very first time I truly noticed a difference in bites from one type of bait to another… and that includes trying multiple “magic” spray fish attracting formulas and lots of other “must have” baits that I have accumulated as a complete fishing addict…

So I am a true believer that Gulp bait will draw more strikes… now the better question is will the added strikes be enough to justify the higher price per bait that.

To start, let’s cover the most effective rigging of the Gulp Jerk Shad that I’ve found so far for catching snook, redfish, and big trout in shallow water…

How to Rig a Gulp Jerk Shad

The most important factor in rigging a Berkley Gulp Jerk Shad (or any other jerk bait) is making sure that it’s straight form does not get altered by the hook or jig head.

This is because any curvature in the bait will result in the lure spinning around in an unnatural way on the retrieve, which will significantly decrease the amount of strikes you get… in addition to increasing the chance of you getting a wind knot in your line due to all of the twists.

So what can be done to prevent twisting?

Well that is fortunately extremely easy to do as long as you do these three things:

  1. Use a hook with a weight on the shank of the hook (click here to see our favorite size/style)
  2. Set the hook on the outside of the bait before hooking the bait so you know exactly where the hook should enter/exit (4:35 mark in video below)
  3. Make sure you exit the lure on the very top of the bait… an off-center exit will likely cause spinning (5:10 mark in video)
  4. Simply keep an eye on the lure when fishing to make sure it is still rigged straight on your hook or jig head

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CLICK HERE to learn more about the hooks shown in the video.

Note: If find that you are getting line twists and/or wind knots, here’s a quick tip on clearing twists from your spool.

How to Properly Care for Gulp Jerk Baits

As stated earlier, Gulp jerk baits are expensive when evaluated as a cost-per-bait basis compared to the others.

But as I mentioned earlier, the more important factor is the cost-per-fish ratio, and a fantastic way to increase this for Gulp baits is to properly care for them because they require more care than other soft plastics.

The most important factor in maintaining Gulp jerk baits is their propensity to shrink and harden when left out of water for too long… see video below for details.

Fortunately, this is easily fixed with just making sure to take your bait off the hook when you’ve finished fishing with it. Check out the video below.

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Bonus Benefit of Gulp Jerk Shad Baits

As mentioned earlier, I noticed that pinfish and other small bait fish were aggressively biting my Gulp jerk baits when I was fishing for snook, reds, and trout.

So what I eventually learned to do was use small chunks of Gulp to catch loads of pinfish, pigfish, and a large variety of other bait fish by hook and line… and it’s surprisingly easy.

It’s so easy that I highly recommend getting kids to do it since it is action packed and does not require a good cast or any sort of special retrieve.

Best of all, this does not require a brand new out of the pack bait to work… I simply cut up my old baits once they can no longer be used for prized fish so that I then can still get value from these baits for a much longer time.

Click here to see a detailed video on how to catch bait with small chunks of Gulp baits.

how to catch pinfish using berkley gulp


Like all other baits, Gulp Jerk Shads have their pros and their cons. For Gulp, the high price would certainly be their biggest con.

However, I now find that my cost-per-fish caught ratio has been very impressive over the last ~5 years since I began using Gulp… especially once learning how to rig them with hooks that expand their life as well as learning how to properly care for them.

And the fact that they can be chopped up into small pieces to use for catching live bait is an added bonus.

So I highly recommend giving Gulp Jerk Shads a shot if you’re looking for a new lure to use when fishing shallow water.

P.S. – Be sure to check out our Inshore Fishing Manifesto to discover the three breakthroughs that allowed me to go from hoping to catch at least one snook, redfish, or trout per trip to consistently catching slams… it’s being offered free of charge to Salt Strong visitors – CLICK HERE.

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It’s one of the only inshore fishing courses guaranteed to help you catch more fish… if not, you never pay a dime.

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Ron Artigue
7 months ago

I fish the salt marshes in SE Louisiana and the water clarity is not as clear as what your videos show in Florida. What other color besides watermelon would you recommend?

Tim Broeseker
1 year ago

never mind…I see this question answered below already

Tim Broeseker
1 year ago

How much of the tail will you let get bit off before you won’t use it any more?

Dan Norberg
2 years ago

For short-term storage (moving from spot to spot or taking a break) have you ever used the Sav-A-Pig Grip-A-Lure that bass fisherman use to temporarily protect pork rind? Its a foldable piece of plastic with foam inside (that you wet with water) and when folded around your jig it stays folded with small Velcro tabs.

Brian Furlow
2 years ago

Hi Luke,

I recently reached out to Berkley and they informed me that they are no longer manufacturing the Watermelon 5″ Jerk Shad. The only color close is the Watermelon with Red Flake. I personally wouldn’t anticipate any different success with this color combo than the simple watermelon color. Thoughts?

Brian Furlow
2 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Awesome. Thanks for the reply!

Bill Conner
2 years ago

Do Gulp shrimp have a different chemical formulation, than Gulp shad, , etc. Or is the juice always the same. This will influence my buying strategy.

Dave Otte
2 years ago

Luke, what do you do when you’re fishing with the jerk shad, you get taps on your line from the trash fish, and they bite the last inch or so off the tail? Do you a) switch to a different bait like a gulp shrimp that’s harder for them to bite off or b) pack up and fish somewhere else or c) keep fishing with a shortie or d) put another one on and pray you don’t run out of bait? I fish from my kayak so going a great distance isn’t an option. Thanks for all the help! Dave

Phillip McCoy
3 years ago

My new confidence bait. The best price I have found is Academy Sports ($5.99 for 5 pack). If you order $25 of merchandise shipping is free. Their shipping response is surprisingly fast – very similar to Amazon Prime. I’ve had very good success with the camo and smelt colors.

Rick Evans
3 years ago

What knot are you using to to tie your floral carbon to your jerk bait

Ralph Nicosia-Rusin
3 years ago

Great info-
Do you know how long the attractant remains potent. I don’t get to fish that often and I have bait that is several years old. I could not find any information on the Berkley web site about how long to keep the bait.

Also can you store other soft baits in the Berkley attractant and have the same scent dispersion effect in the water?

Thanks for all the work you guys do to provide such great instructions. The quality and focus of your videos are superb.

Robert Johnson
1 year ago

I have had the same question for years liquid turns brown but same smell is present and viscosity is the same. I have tried adding other plastics to the bucket but could never tell the difference between those added to the juice or used as is.

Alex Turner
Alex Turner
3 years ago

Loving the videos! Tried a Gulp shrimp for the first time and my first 3 cast caught fish. Nice start but my first 3 fish also ruined the shrimp lol. Quick question how do you retrieve the Shad or Shrimp? Just real, leave on the bottom, real slow and twitch anything in particular that works best?

Love your website!

4 years ago

1. Okay, so what if that’s not enough weight with the 1/8th ounce weighted hook ? can I put a rubber center lead on the fluorocarbon ? If so how far from the hook ?
2. In all of your articles I never see where you have a snap or an easy way to switch baits. Like from a top water to a sinking plug or a gulp jerk shad. Is it legal ?
Thanks to you I have made the switch from live bait to artificials. Ive had 3 trips with only artificials and caught. 1st trip caught 3 small flounder, second trip caught 1 flounder, the 3rd trip, yesterday caught 2 nice flounder 1-15′,and 1-18′. I’m fishing low incoming tide,near the ocean so its fairly clear water, in a main river along the oysters and mud. I have not seen or caught a redfish or trout yet although I want to. thanks for your help. any more specific tips would be greatly . appreciated. I’m fishing in N.E. FL, Fernandina beach. No mangroves or snook here

Ronald Lutz
4 years ago

I don’t understand why you say the hook or jig is ruined by a dried up gulp. I have removed them numerous times by cutting them off with a knife.

4 years ago

I have similar yet different hooks then the Owners in the videos that you guys use. I would like to try the Owners because it looks easier to spin the bait on and looks like it holds better then what i am using. Can you only get these offline, or is there a store (dicks, Gander Mountain, Walmart, Bass Pro…) that carries them. Id rather not have to pay shipping for a few packets of hooks. Thanks

4 years ago

Basely, all you need to do is leave the jig with the dried up Gulp! in some water overnight and it will soften up. Then you can get it off.

Matt Whidden
4 years ago

Luke I am at my wits end… i have watched your video 3 or 4 times on rigging a jerk shad and I’ve still got something wrong. I’m using an owner twist lock hook 4/0 with 1/8 oz weight. I just spent an hour casting into my pool so I could see it. When you jerk it it comes straight off the bottom and twists. I have made sure it is rigged straight with the hook coming out at the spot you showed. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Matt Whidden
4 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Thanks luke I’ll give it a shot

4 years ago

Luke, I have a question for the setup. I was wondering if you tie the hook to a leader and then to a swivel that is attached to the main line?

4 years ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

Thank you Luke. The information was very helpful.

5 years ago

Luke, Another great video…..thank you. I haven’t tried the Gulp Shad Jerk Bait yet, but I’ve had awesome success with the white and penny Gulp Shrimp. I caught several over size reds using the 3″ penny Gulp shrimp this week. Have you ever used the bigger size 5″ shrimp from Gulp? I took your advise and bought a water tight container to carry all my Gulp shrimp and it works GREAT. Thank you! The Gulp bags never sealed well and always made a stinky mess. Thank you again for your idea. I’m planning on buying some 3/0, 1/16 oz Owner Twist Lock hooks and the 5″ Gulp Shad Jerk Bait so I can try it on trout and reds. Do you recommend the watermelon/green for both trout and reds?