December 2021

Kevin VanDam’s Favorite Jerkbait Rod

By : Mark Hicks

It’s impossible for Michigan’s legendary bass pro Kevin VanDam to pick a favorite rod. He worked with Lew’s for over a year to develop 23 KVD IM8 rods and he’s proud of each one.

“Our goal was to develop a high-quality series of rods that are also high in value,” VanDam said. “You can buy any one of my Lew’s IM8 rods for $100 and it will compare to anything on the rack that sells for $200.”

Given that VanDam is the best jerkbait fisherman on planet Earth, it was inevitable that he would design a KVD IM8 casting rod specifically for this technique, model LKVDGC2. It measures 6-feet, 10-inches, has a relatively short handle and a heavy action.

Because VanDam vigorously snaps the rod tip downward when working a jerkbait, the short rod prevents him from slapping the water. And, the short handle doesn’t catch on his clothing as a longer handle would. He also designed a 6-foot, 8-inch, jerkbait rod that gives these benefits to shorter anglers, model LKVDGC1.

Both rods have enough tip for making long casts and the stout backbone required to bring a jerkbait to life.

“You need a stiff rod to get the maximum action out of a jerkbait, especially after you make a long cast,” VanDam said. “A jerkbait has to jump when you snap the rod.”


The short jerkbait rods are also ideal for close range casting to docks, bushes and other targets with power lures such as spinnerbaits, VanDam added.

As with all Lew’s KVD IM8 rods, VanDam’s jerkbait rods are loaded with features, including a Zerconia tip guide that won’t punch out when you use the rod to free a snagged lure.

VanDam matches the rod with a KVD LFS casting reel, another product he developed with Lew’s.

“I wanted a high-quality reel that was affordable enough that anglers could have multiple outfits,” VanDam said. “Lew’s KVD LFS has a 10-bearing system, casts great and has extra strong, heavy duty gears.”

The reel sells for $140, is available in left and righthand models and in three gear ratios: 6.2:1; 7.5:1 and 8.3:1. VanDam opts for the 7.5:1 gear ratio for jerkbait fishing.

The fishing conditions dictate whether VanDam spools the reel with 12-, 14- or 17-pound fluorocarbon line. In winter and early spring, he generally goes with 12-pound test, which allows the four Strike King KVD jerkbaits he designed to dive deeper. When fishing shallow around cover in warmer months, he steps up to heavier line. The exception is the smallest KVD 100 Jerkbait, a light finesse size that doesn’t cast well with heavy line.

“Bigger line has less stretch,” VanDam said. “It makes a jerkbait more responsive. I always use the heaviest line I can get away with that will reach the depth that gets bites.” 

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