Anglers need a new creature bait like a fish needs a bicycle. But a better finesse craw for cold-water bassin’? Absolutely. Something unhindered by extraneous and obtrusive otherworldly appendages.
Sure, mud flaps are fine for 4x4s on lift kits and drawing sucker punches from warm-water largies, but not our first choice for late-season finesse fishing.
To those ends, meet EVOLVE Bait Co.’s KOMPAK CRAW, a veritable Swiss Army bait that fishes more than a dozen ways—for both power and finesse.
First, anglers will notice the streamlined appendages are all forward facing out of the mold. This allows for the 3.5-inch bait to push through even the thickest mats without any flapping appendages to inhibit the punch. Secondly, the “senko” style fuselage, coupled with the sleek appendages, allows the bait to dart and slide through cover, not fall awkwardly. Without a doubt, this triggers more reaction strikes. And lastly, an exposed, molded ledge at the front of the bait’s nose allows the hook to be inserted into the tail for incredible finesse Neko rigging.
“You can fish the bait a lot of different ways, depending on the situation,” says tournament angler Rich Lindgren. “I typically have rods rigged with the bait on a shaky head, football head jig, finesse rig, Jika rig, and Neko rig. I like having one bait that I can fish so many different ways. Let’s me concentrate on fishing, not lure selection.”
Lately, he’s been fishing Evolve Bait Co.’s KOMPAK CRAW on a thin wire 3/0 or 4/0 EWG shaky head and says it recently out-fished the stalwart tactic of dragging tubes over rocks for fall smallmouths an impressive 13:1.
The bait’s design lends itself to shaky head rigging, as there’s a bump in the plastic that holds the hook barb just barely under the plastic, eliminating the need to expose the hook. “Even during tough, short bites, hook-up percentages are super good.”
Lindgren says the shaky head routine is a go-to for cold, clear waters less than 15 feet deep. Anything deeper and he’ll fish the KOMPAK CRAW by itself on football jig head or as a trailer on a tungsten football head jig.
“As the water temps go down, you really need something subtle. Fish are moving slower and they won’t eat if it takes too much energy. The KOMPAK CRAW is precisely the thing, whether I skewer it onto a bare football head, a football head jig with silicone skirt, or my favorite, a combination silicone and hair football head jig,” says Lindgren.
FINESSE JIG TRAILER
He’s also a big fan of fishing the KOMPAK CRAW on BassTEK tungsten finesse jigs. “In fall and early winter, I look for areas of chunk rock and gravel around secondary points that transition into coves and creek arms. You can intercept a lot of fish in these locations with this combo as bass move in and out.”
A lesser-known, yet very effective, late season tactic is called Neko rigging. “I invert the bait, insert either a nail or small tungsten screw weight into bait’s head and run a weedless wacky style hook through the side of the bait. When retrieved, the vertically-oriented bait puffs the bottom much like a cat (“Neko” in Japanese) in a litter box, hence the name.”
Lindgren says the Neko Rig is ideal for dock skipping and bottom-hopping shallow flats, shoreline cover and points, even when water temps are extremely low. “Especially in stained waters, you’d be surprised how many fish you’ll find shallow in late fall and winter.”
During cold fronts and bluebird skies, bass will cling tight to weed mats and clumps for warmth. That’s when Lindren turns to the KOMPAK CRAW for punching right into the living rooms of big, lethargic bass.
“Florida waters are a good example of where cold water punching can definitely pay off. And rather than using a bait that’s too obtrusive and can spook fish, the KOMPAK CRAW is streamlined and punches great. It’s thick enough that it displaces water and fish know it’s there, but it doesn’t flail; the appendages stay close the body, moving just the right amount to draw strikes.”
Lindgren fishes the bait on a straight shank 4/0 flipping worm hook with weight stop and ¾ to 1 ½-ounce tungsten bullet weight, tied to 25-pound fluorocarbon for clearer waters or 50-65 pound braid in dirtier waters.
Yet another way Lindgren likes to fish the bait is on a drop shot, particularly over deep brush piles that he spies with his electronics. “I simply nose hook the KOMPAK CRAW and let it flutter as I ply deep brush, barely shaking it, keeping my eyes on my Humminbird.”
The KOMPAK CRAW is available in six forage-matching colors, including the new Candy Melon pattern. 6 pieces/pack, MSRP $4.69.
Image and video courtesy Evolve