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

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Note: This very popular post on how to rig & retrieve jerk shads for snapper was originally published on August 31, 2020. But since then, we’ve had TONS of very helpful info added to the comments, so be sure to read the comments section too. Enjoy!

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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Keith Kummerfeldt
50 minutes ago

I have just joined you blokes, there is an amazing amount of information here on this site thanks. I am located on the north west coast (Washington) and I plan to beach fish. there is not much information anywhere up here on what is available to target. It seem that the only thing the locals I have talked to consider catching are salmon. If there are any surf perch fishermen in your team let me know. thanks

Luke Simonds
1 minute ago

Thanks so much for joining Keith! Most of our tips are focused towards the fisheries from Texas to Virginia, but much of it applies to other fisheries since there are pretty much always ambush predators that target baitfish and shrimp in bays and river systems.

Here’s a link to see tips on beach fishing: https://www.saltstrong.com/search/?wp_searchable_posts%5Bquery%5D=beach+fishing

Darrell Cintron
1 year ago

Tony, I went out this morning with my wife and for the first time, she actually hooked up twice using a soft plastic jerk shad. She was so excited. Thanks for the excellent tutorials.

Timothy Johnson
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year ago

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

Steven Free
1 year 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
1 year ago

Thanks Tony. Good video!

Anonymous
1 year ago

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

Pablo Diaz
1 year ago

Nice video thx

Anonymous
1 year ago

Very good advise, should be very helpful

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