How To Rig & Retrieve Soft Plastic Jerk Shads For More Strikes

speckled trout on jerk shad

There’s no denying it…

Fish love jerk shads.

In fact, I’ve caught the majority of my big bull redfish on them.

But do you know the right way to rig and retrieve soft plastic jerk shads so that you catch more fish?

The thing about jerk baits is that although they catch a lot of fish, you can easily use them incorrectly and not catch anything.

First, you need to rig it perfectly straight on the lure, then you need to work it so that you trick fish into thinking it’s a scared shrimp or injured baitfish.

So in this video, I’m going to show you how to do just that.

Check it out below.

How To Rig & Retrieve Jerk Shads [VIDEO]

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How To Rig Jerk Baits

One of the great things about jerk shads is that they’re very versatile.

You can rig them on a jig head and fish them in deeper creeks or docks, or you can rig them on a weighted swimbait hook and fish them on shallow flats or shorelines.

The second way is my favorite way to use them.

I like to use a 3/0 Owner TwistLock hook (I’ve really been enjoying the 1/8 oz version recently) and here’s how I rig them:

  1. Put the centering pin through the center of the lure and twist the lure onto the spring
  2. Bring the hook point out through the top of the lure right in the middle
  3. Make sure the bait is straight on the hook and not curved

If you rig it incorrectly, you’ll know because it will helicopter, or spin, and not catch any fish.

To make sure it’s rigged correctly, drag it or pop it through the water alongside you and see if it swims straight.

How To Retrieve Jerk Baits

Now that you have your lure rigged correctly, it’s important that you retrieve it correctly as well.

My retrieve depends on factors such as what species I’m going after and the temperature (and, therefore, how active the fish are).

Here’s how I retrieve a jerk shad for different species:

alabama leprechaun redfish

Redfish

  1. Cast out the lure and let it sink to the bottom
  2. Give it 2-3 quick pops
  3. Lower the rod tip, let the lure sink, and reel in the slack
  4. Pause for a second or two, then repeat

This is also my go-to retrieve when I first get on the water and feel out what’s going on.

If it’s cold and the fish are lethargic, I’ll make my pause a little longer, but if it’s warm and they’re aggressive, I’ll make the pause shorter.

Another thing to note is that fish typically strike when the lure falls, so keep the line tight so you can feel it and set the hook.

Snook

Snook typically like a faster retrieve than redfish.

I’ll cast out my lure, give it 3-4 twitches, reel in the slack, take a short pause, then repeat.

Usually, the pause is shorter than when I’m fishing for redfish, but if it’s cold, I’ll increase the pause.

Trout

Trout are like snook in that they seem to like a more erratic retrieve.

I’ll usually give 3-4 twitches and a short pause when I’m targeting trout.

Flounder

Flounder are like redfish in that they seem to like a slower retrieve.

They’re also bottom-dwellers, so it’s really important to give your lure the opportunity to sink down to the bottom and get to them.

Conclusion

sight fishing trout

If I’m fishing calm, shallow water, I love tying a soft plastic jerk bait to a weighted swimbait hook and bouncing it along the bottom.

If I’m targeting flounder or redfish, I’ll slow down my retrieve, but if I’m targeting snook or trout, I’ll speed it up and make it a little more erratic.

Have any questions about catching fish with jerk shads?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson
6 days ago

Hey Tony, I’m new to saltwater fishing and salt strong has been a wealth of information never used much artificial bait but the instructions on how to retrieve are amazing hope to post some fishing reports soon with the new found info. Thanks

Jose Odriozola
Jose Odriozola
1 month ago

Good morning Tony , just a quick question have you tried using the golden leprechaun upside down? If so what were your results ?

Jack Fahey
Jack Fahey
1 month ago

Having recently moved to SW Florida I find your videos to be beyond helpful. Thank you so much!

Steven Free
Steven Free
2 months ago

I agree Tony the soft plastic jerkbait is a real fish catcher and rigging them is very important and as far as the leprechaun it’s a great lure but I found one the color here in northeast do is even better the saltwater assassin in chic on a chain color green and silver with gold flakes and a chartreuse tail a little beefier head so inserting a rattle is no problem add a little procure in either flounder pounder for obviously flounder or inshore scent for any other thing that bites in the ice brine thanks for the info and all you do????

Douglas Lund
Douglas Lund
2 months ago

Thanks Tony. Good video!

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 months ago

Do you use the same retrieve and technique when using a paddle tail?

Pablo Diaz
Pablo Diaz
2 months ago

Nice video thx

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 months ago

Very good advise, should be very helpful

Tom Wildman
Tom Wildman
2 months ago

Tony
Well done. Really helpful to me is seeing the rod movement and the length of the pause. I am just too fast. I went on the gear page and went to the soft lures and tried to find the SS Alabama Leprecaun jerk shad and couldn’t find this item. Really glad to see the Owner 3/0 1/8 oz. Twist Lock is now available. I had moved to the 4/0 to get the 1/8 oz. but feel I was missing some bites. Thanks and keep up the great videos.

Dave Morales
Dave Morales
2 months ago

Thanks again for sharing great information.

Bill Mixson
Bill Mixson
2 months ago

Thanks! I’ve been kinda slow on the retrieve with these lures, but may need to be slower.

David Fender
David Fender
2 months ago

Good job Tony! Great report as always

Philip Pieplow
Philip Pieplow
2 months ago

I am interested in working with mono leader.
 
I have been pairing #40 lb Suffix 832 braid with 20# Seaguar Red Label when tieing my FG knots.
 
Would I use the same lb mono or would you recommend something different?
 

Last edited 2 months ago by Philip Pieplow
Brett Laws
Brett Laws
2 months ago
Reply to  Philip Pieplow

Philip, Generally, you want your main line to be lighter than the leader. 3 out of the 4 spinning rods I use have 10# Power-pro braid, the other one has 15# braid. The leader should be taylored to the species you are targeting. Trout, redfish and flounder I generally use 20# flouro or mono, snook requires 25 or 30# flouro or mono.

Bill Press
Bill Press
2 months ago

Great!

Tom Watts
Tom Watts
2 months ago

Tony, So glad you are now showing the proper, best retrieves. Big thank you, Tom Watts, Naples, Fl.

Sam Craparo
Sam Craparo
2 months ago

Are the twist lock hooks easier to put in the Alabama Leprechaun than Zman jerkshads. Had issues with Zman even after making that initial hole with hook point. Switched to chin lockz and pin grip hooks. Slam Shady is my go to lure followed by little John pink silver . Have not had the best of results with jerk shad but may be because I have not become confident in them.

David Fender
David Fender
2 months ago
Reply to  Sam Craparo

Yes it’s easier to get them on the twistlock hooks. It’s a different material

Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly
2 months ago

Nice Job Tony! Helpful as always!

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