A crankbait is a lure that no bass fisherman is without in their tackle box, anglers are drawn to these lures by their eye catching paint jobs and new flashy computer generated designs. Some may view the crankbait as a simple bait that you just cast out and reel in, any time of the year and in any location and you can catch fish on it. This may work for you, but to truly capitalize fishing your crankbait you need to know which one to use, at what depth and what cover.
One of my favorite ways to target shallow cover, especially laydowns and rip rap, is tossing a shallow running crankbait, especially a square billed one. Some popular models include the Strike King KVD series, Spro Fat John and the Rapala DT series. What makes square billed crank baits unique is that you can bring them through heavy cover and they’ll bounce off the structure and not get hung up. What this will also do is help generate a reaction bite out of the bass.
Sometimes, however, it takes repeated casts to the same spot to get that bite. That is why using a shallow water anchor like the Minn Kota Talon is key. I can find that good looking set of laydowns, drop my Talon and not have to worry about the current or wind pushing me into or away from my target.
This technique can work all year for you, but I predominately use it in the summer and fall when the bass are shallow feeding. My three main color groups are shad colors, bluegill patterns and bright chartreuses to use when I’m fishing stained rivers. As I mentioned above, shallow crankbaits work well along laydowns, stumps and rip rap. Early in the season, as the inside weedline is still sparse and lined with scattered clumps of weeds, a good tactic is to rip your shallow crankbait out of those clumps.
Fishing the mid depths with a crankbait is a great way to search out weedlines for active pods of fish. Sometimes you may get one bass on a crankbait and then have to slow down to catch the rest of the school, other times you could catch fish on that crankbait all day long. I especially like to do this when I’m fishing a new body of water or a new stretch that I located using my Navionics chip in my Hummingbird 998 Side Imaging unit. I’m able to cover water quickly and get an idea of the weed composition and how the bass are relating to it.
I again turn to the Rapala DT series and Spro crankbaits, for several reasons: they run true, they have great fish catching colors and I have confidence in them. To me that is one of the biggest things that you must have when crankbait fishing is confidence. Find a bait, color, size, etc. that you are confident in and stick with it.
When the mercury starts to climb, many bass on lakes will head out to off shore structure that is located in the cooler, deeper water. One of the best ways to generate a reaction bite out of these bass is to toss a deep diving crankbait and bring it right in front of their face! Many times these bass that are located on offshore structure in deep water are schooled up and by throwing a crankbait you are able to efficiently have your lure make contact with the cover, whether it is rock, weed or timber. The other advantage to using a deep diving crankbait is that you can cover water quickly and determine if the school is active. If they are, you can load the boat with some big bass in a short span of time.
Selecting a good deep diving crankbait is important because if that bait isn’t running correctly it won’t generate that strike and will do you no good. Some of my favorites include the Rapala DT 14 and 16 series and Norman DD-22’s. As far as color selection goes, I stick to four color choices. Shad patterns for when the bass are feeding on baitfish, crawfish for late summer, and chartreuse patterns for when the water has some color to it or the bass want a bright color and finally a bluegill pattern when they are feeding on bluegills along weedlines.
Regardless of what style of crankbait or what depth I’m targeting, I rely on similar gear throughout. One of the key pieces to crankbait fishing and the ability to land fish with a crankbait is having a rod that has a lot of give to it, so when a bass hits and runs the rod gives so the hooks won’t rip out of the fish’s mouth. That is why I use the 7’ Wright & McGill Skeet Reese S-Glass Rods; they give me the utmost confidence when tossing crankbaits. When I do toss the DT 16’s or DD-22’s, I’ll use the 7’10” rod to achieve longer casts and it also puts less fatigue on my wrist and arms.
I’ll use the same Wright & McGill Victory Series baitcast reels when cranking, the only difference is that I’ll use the 7.01 gear ratio reel when shallow, so I can cover water quickly and the 6.2:1 ratio when fishing deep, so I can slow down my retrieve when bringing in those big cranks. The same goes for selecting my line, if I’m fishing shallow I’ll use 17 lb. mono so my bait doesn’t sink as much, but when I’m looking to get the most depth out of my baits, I’ll go with 15 lb. Seaguar Inviz X Fluorocarbon.
Now that you have the 411 on crankbait fishing in all levels of the water column, I hope you are heading to your local lake or river to go catch some bass tossing a crankbait, I know I am! For more information, check out fishglenn.com.