Jerkbait vs. Crankbait: 7 Differences Explained

Jerkbait vs crankbait? Some of the most popular fishing lures anglers uses are crankbaits and jerkbaits. They may sound similar, but we can assure you these baits are different. For instance, crankbaits are used to reach greater depths, while jerkbaits have a much longer and thinner design. Let’s find out more about what differentiates jerkbaits vs. crankbaits! And why you should have both in your tackle box.

Jerkbait vs. Crankbait Quick Comparison Table


Long and thinShort, stout bodies

Number of hooks

Water conditions
Calm, cold water at a temperature between 37-50 degreesShallower waters at a temperature range between 53-55 degrees

Retrieval depth
2-14 feet16-28 feet

Available bill sizes/ lips
Floating, sinking, and suspended jerkbaits All jerkbaits have lipsLipless: 10-40 feet
Small lip: 2-5 feet
Square lip: 2-5 feet
Big lip: 15-30 feet

Ideal rod length and action
6’10” rod length and medium actionMedium power to medium-fast action and 7’ or 7’6” rod length

Ideal gear ratio

Casting mechanism
Cast and then jerk the rod while you retrieve to mimic an injured fishSimply cast and reel until it reaches the preferred depth

Body Types and Style

The body shapes of jerkbaits vs. crankbaits are vastly different. Jerkbaits are long and thin to mimic the shape of a minnow. This body style is what gives the jerkbait its’ action. On the other hand, crankbait has a short, deep body type. This more rounded form mimics specific baitfish or crayfish. The shape also contributes to the action of this lure.


BANDIT LURES Series 300 Crankbait Bass Fishing Lures, Fisghing Accessories, Dives to 12-feet Deep, 2', 1/4 oz, Chartreuse Shad, (BDT3RS10)

See on Amazon

A crankbait is a double treble hook-lipped lure designed to dive to various depths. They can dive to depths from 5 to 40 feet depending on the lip’s angle, size, and shape. Crankbaits wiggle back and forth on retrieval, mimicking a swimming baitfish or crayfish. There are mainly three types of crankbaits, which differ depending on their diving capabilities. Let’s take a look.

Shallow Diving Crankbaits

Shallow crankbaits are perfect for the early spring and summer during the spawning seasons. These crankbaits typically only dive between 2 and 5 feet, so you should use them close to shore. The lip on them is normally short and square.

Tip: Shallow water with a gradual slope and structures like rocks, weed edges, and sunken logs are great places to use these lures. They’ll entice aggressive bass from their beds with ease.

Medium Diving Crankbaits

This type of crankbait sports a larger, more rounded lip to dive to depths between 5 and 15 feet. They perform best in the early spring and fall when the water is still cool. At this time, bass and walleye will occupy the edges of drop-offs and weed edges. 

Deep Diving Crankbaits

Deep divers have the largest bills of all the other crankbaits. The bill is often as long as the actual body of the lure itself. Deep divers can dive 10 to 20 feet or even 15 to 30 feet. They are best used in summer to reach the deeper, cooler waters where fish like walleye and lake trout reside. Deep divers are effective when trolling or casting. 


Calissa Offshore Tackle 110mm California Inshore Fishing - Special Jerkbait Crankbait Surf Flash Fishing Salt Pro Lure Minnow Zebra MS Metallic Sardine Glow 110 (Chrome Sardine)

See on Amazon

The counterpart to crankbaits, jerkbaits are long and thin-lipped lures that sport three treble hooks. They don’t dive as deep as some crankbaits, but they can reach a modest depth range of 1 to 15 feet. Their name, jerkbait, refers to the action of these lures. 

When reeling the fishing line, you are supposed to twitch or “jerk” your pole, which gives this lure the action of an injured fish. Just like with crankbaits, there are three main types of jerkbaits that you can find.

Hard Jerkbaits

Hard jerkbaits are the most common kind of jerkbait anglers use and are split into three styles: 

  • Floating jerkbait: This style floats on top of the water just as they are named – until you provide the action of twitching or “jerking” as you reel it in. They don’t dive deep, but they create ripples and movement like prey struggling at the surface. They are great for fishing over submerged vegetation.
  • Sinking jerkbait: This style sinks at different rates, always read the lure description and specs to learn how slowly or quickly the jerkbait will sink. They’re also called the “countdown model” because they are measured by feet per second. So, you count in your head until it reaches the depth you want. On the retrieval, you twitch the rod and let it sink for the best action. 
  • Suspending jerkbait: This unique type of jerkbait has a neutral buoyancy composition that allows it to stop or remain suspended at a certain depth. They don’t dive beneath the surface until you reel or jerk the lure. 

Soft Jerkbaits

There are also soft plastic jerkbaits that you’ll find to be highly popular among bass anglers. They differ from hard jerkbaits because you’ll have to get the lure and hooks separately. Everyone sets these up a little differently by using different kinds and weighted hooks. 

Soft plastic jerkbaits are highly effective and can be made weedless. Bass loves these lures because of their action, and their texture replicates a real fish so they hang on to it longer. 

Swimming Action

Crankbaits and jerkbaits have very distinct swimming actions. Crankbaits don’t require anything special other than reeling or trolling. They wiggle back and forth like a swimming baitfish or crayfish, and some even rattle as they do so. 

Jerkbaits, however, require the action of jerking or twitching your rod. They won’t have the desired action or movement without doing so. The purpose is for the lure to look like an injured minnow and easy prey for a larger fish.

Retrieval Depth

If you’re fishing deep lakes and rivers, then crankbaits will work the best. This is because crankbaits dive much deeper than jerkbaits can. However, crankbaits do cover a wide range since they can come in shallow diving forms, which could be used in ponds as well.

Jerkbaits don’t dive nearly as deep and can be perfect in shallower ponds and streams. They can still be productive in large bodies of water, but remember they won’t dive deeper than 15 feet. They will be best used in shallow water over structure. 

Number of Hooks

Jerkbaits being much longer than crankbaits, have more room for hooks. They have three treble hooks located under the head, in the middle, and on the tail. Crankbaits have just two treble hooks, one located beneath the head and the other on the tail as well.


For crankbaits, you’ll want to be casting them in areas of the structure that bass like to occupy. This includes rocky ledges, gradual drop-offs, sunken logs, and brush or weed edges. Jerkbaits should be cast in shallow water and around structures like docks, submerged vegetation, sand or grass flats, and rocky drop-offs. 

Water Clarity

Every lure has certain conditions that work perfectly for it. Water clarity is one of the most important to keep in mind. When fishing with a jerkbait, you want approximately 18 inches of visibility to get the most effectiveness. 

Crankbaits are a bit different. You’ll most often be using them in a depth range of 5 to 10 feet, where bass are usually located. Water clarity isn’t as much of an issue since they can be used in murky waters as effectively as in clearer waters. If fishing in murky water with a crankbait, reel it at a medium to slow speed. 

Bill Sizes/ Lips

All jerkbaits, aside from soft plastic ones, have lips on them. They are all virtually the same in shape and might vary slightly in size. However, crankbaits have a much larger variety of bill sizes and shapes. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Lipless crankbaits: Also known as rattle traps, because of the rattling sound they produce underwater, they are quite diverse. They are heavier lures but can be used in both shallow and deep water. If allowed, they can sink quickly to a considerable depth between 8 and 20 feet.
  • Square lip crankbaits: A small square lip protrudes from the front of the lure. They typically come in a pattern that looks like a crayfish and only dive to a depth of 2 to 8 feet.
  • Round lip crankbaits: These are what make up shallow, medium, and deep diving crankbaits. Depending on the size and angle of the rounded lip are what determine the depth they can dive to. Typically can range from 5 to 30 feet.

Diving to the End of the Line

As you can see, it’s somewhat of an even match with jerkbaits vs. crankbaits. Both are extremely popular lures used by all kinds of anglers. The best thing you can do is to ensure you carry a couple of different types of both in your tackle box!